Friday, January 22, 2016

Eluding the Perfection Police

"There, in the presence of the Lord your God,
you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice
in everything you have put your hand to,
because the Lord your God has blessed you."
Deuteronomy 12: 7

     I am not the best housekeeper. Our house has dust bunnies that I've made into pets. I see no reason to vacuum the carpet just to remove footprints. And I know for a fact that a few water-spots on my kitchen faucet will not cause a plague.
     It's not that I don't know how to be a perfect Suzy Homemaker. Hey, I’m well aware of Martha Stewart’s obsessions. Yet, after decades of marriage, nine houses, three cats, two dogs, and three kids, and six grandkids I've chosen to take it down a notch.
     When the kids were young and the perfection-police invaded our domain, I’d bark orders: "Carson, you cut a swath through the family room. Emily, hose down the kitchen, and Laurel, capture all the dust bunnies. I'll conquer the laundry.  Any questions?"
     Carson raised a hand.  "Why are we doing this? Is Grandma coming to visit?"
     "The pope?"
     I glared at them.  "No one's coming to visit.  We're cleaning the house for us. We do like a clean house, don't we?"
     Realizing this was a trick question, the kids looked at each other and shrugged. 
     "What's that shrug supposed to mean?" I snapped.
     "We'll help," Emily said, "but we don't understand why you're so . . . so . . ."
     "Zealous," Carson said.
     We all stared at him.  "Where did you get that word?" I asked.
     Carson looked at the ceiling, trying to remember.  "I think I read it in an article about wild-eyed fanatics who tried to take over some country."
     "Are you implying I'm wild-eyed?" I asked, brandishing a broom in the air like a sword. 
     My children's silence was my answer. I looked around at the morning newspaper strewn on the coffee table, a lone pair of shoes by the wall, the couch pillows which would only take a few moments to straighten. "Maybe I was exaggerating a bit," I conceded.  "Maybe things aren't as messy as I thought."
     The kids' shoulders relaxed. They'd been given a reprieve from the perfection-police, and their zealous mother—who was (and is) far from perfect.
     The perfection-police visit far less often now. The popcorn bowl in the sink, mail on the counter, a basket of socks that need matching, and a baseball hat flung over the stair post are not capital crimes. They're proof that a family lives here.
     And that is true perfection.