Chasing Perfect

Chasing Perfect October 29, 2013

I’ve been learning a lot as a mom lately.  Learning how little control I have over some issues with my children… yet how my influence and outlook as a mom is still paramount.  It has been trying.  I haven’t been sprinting through it like usual, but instead clamoring on, tripping, righting myself, and trying to keep pace.  This mom road is a long one and feels even longer in the face of certain challenges.  We’ve talked before how it is more like a lifetime marathon and that keeping our “eyes on the prize” is essential.  Lately, though, I’ve been struggling with what that eventual prize is for my children.

What am I running for?  What are my hopes for them?

We are perpetually in motion trying to make things “right”; trying to fashion a prize that is fulfilling, pride-inducing, gratifying, something that makes this journey feel worth it.  But what is the goal in all of that?  Do we really believe we can achieve perfection?  At least not for ourselves, but maybe for our kids?  I recently came across this video about competitive runner, Heath White, and was especially moved listening to him tell the tale of raising his daughter with Down Syndrome.  Heath was an elite runner, Top Gun flyer, and scholar when he and his wife received news that their second daughter had DS.  He couldn’t handle it and encouraged his wife to have an abortion.  No child of his was going to be lesser; no progeny of his “designer genes” could be so lowly…  He was chasing perfect and falling flat on his face.  His journey getting up from the fall is truly inspiring.

And here’s another nugget of inspiration passed along by a friend.  It addresses the idealism we all have for our kids when they’re born, but how lovely, unexpected outcomes can be had and enjoyed.  She writes from the perspective of a special needs parent, but her analogy is a refreshing read regardless.

by Emily Perl Kingsley
 I am often asked to describe
the experience of raising a child with a disability
to try to help people who have not shared
that unique experience to understand it,
to imagine how it would feel.It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby,
it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans.
The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice.
You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go.
Several hours later, the plane lands.
The stewardess comes in and says,
“Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? 
I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. 
All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan.
They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you
to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place,
full ofpestilence, famine and disease.
It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books.
And you must learn a whole new language.
And you will meet a whole new group of people
you would never have met.

It’s just a different place.
It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.
But after you’ve been there for a while
and you catch your breath, you look around….
and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….
and Holland has tulips.
Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy…
and they’re all bragging about
what a wonderful time they had there.
And for the rest of your life, you will say
“Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go.
That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…
because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life
mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy,
you may never be free to
enjoy the very special, the very lovely things …
about Holland.

Perfect will never be.  My children will disappoint me.  They will not lead the life I have led.  They will choose paths and outlooks that are not necessarily my own.  But I will love them.  I will pray for them.  I will stand by them.  I will point them to Jesus.  Because at the end of the day, at the end of this life, I want to rejoice with them in heaven.  I want to bask in the absolute Perfection of my Creator.  God bless.

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  • That is a beautiful poem. I think I can very much relate to this because when I had Therese, my plane landed someplace that wasn’t quite a nice as Holland. I didn’t stay there, but I was there for a while, and the perspective of that place really helps me in the challenges I face as a parent. As always, I find your grace and strength in parenting amazing and encouraging. And you have really always liked tulips 😉 perhaps not as much as gerber daisy’s, but tulips are pretty great. Love you!

  • Juris Mater

    Bethany, this is wonderful. Thank you. My sprint has slowed in the last couple of years also; I “knew” my destination before, and now I am just beginning to understand that God reveals the next step really only one step at a time, so sprinting doesn’t work. Thanks for the honesty and inspiration.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Thank you for this great post! You are so right about when we lose sight of the goal (Heaven!) we can run run the race towards pride and self-gratification or, alternately, give into despair! I love what you said, “love them…point them to Jesus”!

  • Queen B

    B-Mama, this is beautiful. God is training us to see perfection through His eyes, not our own, through this path of motherhood. Thank you for sharing this.