Imperfection 101

Andrew walked by, quickly perused his lunch, and smashed the baggie of tortilla chips. “What in the heck are you doing?” I yelled. “Those are for your lunch! Why would you do that?”Andrew rolled his blue eyes, calmly looked at me, and said, “I like them in little pieces. I don’t like them all big and perfect.” Then, he walked out of the room to finish getting ready for school.

I stood there—stunned. First of all, Andrew is in eighth grade. Why didn’t I know that he liked his chips in pieces? Since he was in preschool, I’ve fixed his lunch almost every day. Secondly, why was I so mad that he crushed his own bag of chips? The answer seemed simple enough. My search for the most perfect chips had been purposeful. And he’d crushed them.

So why was it so important to me that Andrew have perfect chips in his lunch? Maybe it stemmed back to the early days when he would throw himself on the floor and refuse to eat his fruit cereal bars if they had even the slightest break. I didn’t want to admit it, but my upset was probably more about me than him. You see, he’s never noticed the unbroken Doritos. He’s never said, “Thanks for making sure everything I have is perfect, especially the chips in my lunch. You are the best mom ever.” Secretly, I think that’s what I’m going for—some sort of validation that he thinks I’m the best mom in everything I do. So if I keep trying to be the best and give him the best, maybe one day. . . I’ll actually be the best.

How ridiculous. I don’t have to be the best. I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be his mom. His clothes are clean, he has food, he is loved and cared for, and he knows it. Perfection is not in the cards for me, and it never will be. And when I really think about it, I don’t want perfection to rule my world. I definitely don’t want it to define my son.

I’m sure there will be many stories that Andrew will tell his friends about his mom and her crazy ways. I hope that some of these stories will be about things I did that made him happy. Somehow, I don’t think my quest for the perfect chips to put in his school lunch will make the cut. And if it does, I hope it will be a funny story about the day he smashed a bag of chips, and I got mad because I was trying to be so perfect. I hope he remembers how he just rolled his eyes and walked out of the room, laughing at and loving me just the way I am—imperfections and all.




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