The Art of Forgiveness
I have started and erased this post about a dozen times. I’m not sure how to say the things I want to say.
Single Dad Laughing wrote a blog entry last week about the disease of perfection. How it renders us nearly disabled as we founder in its clutches. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how perfectionism can be crippling in regards to keeping your house, but really striving for perfection is about more than that. I mean, sure it manifests in the house. It makes it difficult for me to work effectively because I can’t ignore the minute details for the bigger picture. But in thinking over perfectionism I realized something about myself.
In other people, I find faults endearing. I adore the Princess’s habit of saying the most inane off-the-cuff things (The news is as boring as a frozen squirrel!). I love Littilebit’s impatience. Of course, I call her exuberant and excited. Not impatient. I smile when she beseeches us to “Come on! Come on!” when she can’t wait for us for one more second. I love Baby Bee’s determination, even when things end badly. I love Big Daddy’s vague “absent minded professoritis”. I love when he has to wait for his buffer to catch up to hear what someone has just said.
And yet, I’m nearly completely unforgiving in similar traits myself. I get frustrated and angry with my own impatience. I hate when I forget things. I don’t find it endearing at all. The focus that Babe Bee exudes as she tries to learn something new, frustrates me in myself as I find myself distracted whenI’m away from my chosen task and angry if I feel I’ve spent too much time on it anyhow. The Princess’s rash, stormy emotions have always been a part of her and I love that she loves big and hates big. But I get frustrated and unhappy at my own storminess. I annoy myself with my love it/hate it attutide.
Why do I consider myself so unworthy of the care and consideration I give to the rest of my family? Why do I consider myself so unworthy of the care and consideration I give to other people. When people are flighty, I smile indulgently. When I’m flighty, I berate myself. When my children or my husband make mistakes, I help them right the wrong. I rarely get angry. I pick up the pieces. But when I make mistakes? There’s no forgiveness. I beat myself up. Over and over again depending on the severity of the digression. I’m mean to myself. More mean than I would ever consider being to anyone. I could never consider being so mean to another human. To my family. To my children. But I’m plenty mean to myself. Daily.
I hold onto my litany of sins. I keep no list but write them into my mind where I go over and over them each time I do something I personally consider to be a failure of any sort. When I make even the most minor of mistakes, I recount the number of times I made similar mistakes. I would never do this to Big Daddy. I would never stand over the children as they were cleaning up a mistake they made harping over them about how many times they’d made a similar mistake in the past.
And the truth is, Big Daddy and the girls don’t expect me to be any more perfect than I expect them to be. Big Daddy grew so tired of be berating myself out loud, that he actually got mad a time or two at the way I spoke to myself. He said he wouldn’t allow anyone else to talk to me that way. It wasn’t acceptable and it wasn’t right.
I try every day to be kinder to myself. I try hard to forgive myself more often. I try not to write my mistakes in my mind in indelible ink. I try to realize that I really don’t have to do it all. I try to hold on to the idea that the people who love me most think my best is good enough and I don’t have to do one thing more. But, old habits die hard.