Friday, April 13, 2007

Intentional Progress Over Perfection

I don't really know where to start. I am really creative. I love to bake. I am a perfectionist in most things. (Written to the tune of "I think I can, I think I can.") I live for everything coming together and seeing every i dotted, and t crossed. Yet, motherhood has taught me a lot about my expectations in life - perfection is a fading memory.

We are on the tightest budget of our lives. We own two mortgages and not by choice. When my youngest child was approaching his 3rd birthday, I knew that we would have a small celebration. I told Drew, "Mommy will make you a birthday cake...." and that was enough for him. I, however, could only remember the multi-tier princess cake my daughter had at her 3rd birthday. This wasn't quite a fair competition. No equity whatsoever.

I don't have a problem with store purchased cakes, I just don't like them. So - I would either order directly from a wonderful stay-at-home mom that made delicious and very fancy cakes, I would rely on my best friend (the God Mommy) who does a tremendous job decorating cakes, or I would work my heart out to really create something fabulous. One year we had a trememdous Blue's Clues cake and I felt bad for every baker who has ever used stars to create the illusion of perfection. 200 stars and 4.5 hours later - I think the cake pan is still hiding from its lack of repeat use. (It has been 3 years at least....)

Drew likes rockets and mommy made a funny looking rocket cake for his birthday. It didn't have perfect letters or the "right" color icing - and I decorated it in the pan. For a woman that lives for perfection - I had failure written all over my face. I don't even have a fancy cake dish for a rectangle cake - yikes. I mean it can be hard to recover from such a missed opportunity of Martha Stewartism. Yet, the only thing that my little boy did was squeal in delight about his rocket cake. He was happy with his creation and was ready to eat it before the picture was taken. There's a lesson to be learned about "good enough" in all of this.

Sometimes I'm ready to climb heaven and earth to accomplish something that requires level C effort. The time, cost and emotional savings can then be placed into some other value added activity - like enjoying the cake with the kids. My husband said as we were preparing to ebay a few items, "How about that South Beach Book - you've stopped that right." I sunk a little bit and was ready to memoralize his insensitivity, when I thought to myself - where is the energy best used?

My energy nowadays is used to write, to play with a messy kid who likes funny looking cakes, to sleep late, to look out the window instead of cleaning it. As a result of this decision - I only promise two things anymore: a clean bathroom and clean dishes, so that you can go potty at my house with dignity, and so that you can have water without fearing for your life. IPOP is my theme of the year - Intentional Progress Over Perfection. So, while I may need to go back over to that beach....I will spend my time soaking up my sons, and my little princess too.

When you are tempted to think that your efforts aren't really good enough - think again. Motherhood is filled with moments to reach the highest heights - but its also filled with wisdom to realize that Betty, Duncan and Dough Boy who came before us can help us to cherish our priorities. Celebrate "Good Enough" and enjoy the day!


yvette said...

A, he is a living DOLL! And it looks like he really enjoyed his rocket cake. I'm all for reaching for "good enough"--that often surpasses our children's desires and needs. Another thing I often repeat to myself in moments like that: "It's not about me. It's not about me..."

Happy Birthday, Drew!

AuburnGalAlways said...

I LOVE the cake! I made one very sad example of a birthday cake for my Stinkerbell. Balloons were what I decided I could draw with icing! Very warped, uneven balloons drawn with icing by very TIRED hands because I didn't do it until the night before the party. I need to work on my time management.

I like your IPOP theme - a very smart effort at prioritizing. Good luck with it.

I'm visiting from CHBM. Drop by my blog if you want.

Drama Mama said...

Hand-Made cakes are the best! From the heart...

Angelika said...

He's so cute!

The cake looks good too. We are always more critical of ourselves than other people are. I think it's awesome! I wouldn't have the patience to do that, LOL.

Kaleigh said...

You hit it right on the head. Getting bogged down in perfectionism is the easiest way to avoid enjoying life, which most of the time, is "good enough."

And your cake looks wonderful. And delicious.

Ginabee said...

Kids sure have a way of putting it all in perspective for you. I too want everything perfect but to my kids I am perfect in the midst of all my shortcomings. Isn't their opinion all that really matters? I like your IPOP and your cake.

Heather said...

It's the small things like that he will remember more than the fancy 3 level cakes that cost an arm and possibly a leg!

I love to bake as well...visiting from CHBM.

Janean said...

My kids don't remember the ones I bought from the store...they remember the ones I made and let them help with. They weren't perfect but they were made with love and THAT is what counts.
Good job!
Here from CHBM Photo Friday

kat said...

A great story and and even greater lesson.
Thank you for posting it.

Came via the CHBM!

Crimson Wife said...

We moms are typically our own worst critics. I think the cake looks cute!

Makita said...

Artists are always their worst critics. I love your closing comment, Celebrate 'Good Enough!' and enjoy the day! Right on!