“I was waiting for the perfect moment, but you are upset, and I am ill, but this is life, and life is perfect. Will you marry me?”
These words, from my now husband, have stayed with me. Not just because, as expected, I remember the moment he proposed, but because he was right.
You can’t spend your life waiting for the perfect moment.
Perfect has changed.
As a young child I dreamt of the perfect grown up life. Playing at house I had a doll that grew teeth when you squeezed her leg and one that wetted nappies on demand. I dressed up in my mum’s shoes and wore peel off nail varnish as a treat. I enjoyed making mud cakes and instructing my toys how to make the perfect sandcastle in the sandpit. I would be rich and famous, probably as a Blue Peter presenter.
Now my house is a mess, my daughter is not a doll I can control at the press of a button and I rarely cook. I do not have the perfect body and I still don’t see myself as a proper grown up.
But perfect has changed.
My house may not be immaculate, but it is mine. Actually it is ours, and that makes it all the more prefect. Every dusty corner, and every overflowing bin was worked for. Every carpet (all of them Storm!) was our choice. Each table, each chair, each coffee matt, has been put their by us. Yes, some may be hand me downs, and they don’t all match, but we have made a home.
And to me, it is perfect.
I have stretch marks, I have scars and at the age of 30 I still get acne. My body is far from the one shown to us in magazines as perfect. I am mismatched and unbalanced. I have boobs so big that they have gone beyond sexy and hit scary, and a chin that sticks out like a witches. But, for the first time in my life, I am wearing size 8 jeans and I am starting to like the way I look. On a good day I can look in the mirror and smile, and my husband always tells me I am beautiful.
To him, I am perfect.
My daughter cries, she scratches and she bites. She does not sleep through the night and she constantly has a runny nose. Her skin is not flawless and her hair is patchy. But she has a smile that can light up the darkest of days and a laugh that sounds like golden raindrops. She is clever and bright and strong beyond all measure. She crawls, and nearly walks, at such a young age and is settled and confident with new people. She is healthy and she is growing well. She smells like happiness and her eyes show a million thoughts in one go.
She is, in every possible way, completely and utterly perfect.
I am not a genius. There are far too many questions on University Challenge that I don’t understand and I nod and smile too often in conversations. I frequently have to look up definitions or ask for my husbands support and I am not as up to date with politics as I would like to be. But I am educated and qualified. I am good (with outstanding features) at my job and students and parents thank me often. I am certainly not a mensa candidate, but my brain does its job, and is working hard to improve itself every day.
And to me, it is perfect.
My health is poor, plagued by asthma all my life I am still invariably in need of steroids at least three times a year. Chest infections and throat infections are a regular occurrence. But they are part of what makes me me. And, to those worse off than me, I am sure my health is seen as perfect.
I have an obsessive and jealous personality. I am attention seeking, lazy and and judgmental. But I am kind, I spend hours plotting and planning exciting surprises for family and I lose sleep worrying about my students. When I love it is beyond all measure and I will fight for those that need me for as long as I can breathe. I give second chances and I run with new ideas.
To many, my personality is not perfect, but to me, it’s just the way it should be.
I do not have hundreds of friends. I am not little miss popular and I annoy people easily. People drift in and out of my life and tire of my insecurities easily. But I have friends I can rely on – friends I can turn to and friends that turn to me. Some I speak to daily, others much less often, but regardless of how often I see them, I can proudly say, without any doubt, I have some perfect friends.
My family is closer to that in a soap opera than that in an classic novel. We argue, we fight and we make each other cry. We have secrets and skeletons in the closet. But we make each other laugh and smile. We make each other proud and we share each others achievements. There is no problem I could ever face that I couldn’t find at least one family member to support me.
They are, without question, perfect.
I am not rich and I am not famous. We have enough money to pay the bills, (most of the time) and we work hard for that. I do not host a chat show or perform nightly on stage. But I am respected, I have had a impact on people’s lives and I have made a positive difference. I have money for the things I need and I am rich in love.
To me, that is perfect.
Perfect. Messy hair, handprints on windows, snot on my tights, bills on the doormat, confused looks, stretch marks and washing up piles. Arguing and tears, shouting and screaming. Spots and scars and far too many dirty nappies. And smiles and laughter and, above all, love.
The definition of perfect has changed.
Thank you darling. You have taught me so much, and this is a lesson I will work hard to live by.
Stop waiting for the perfect moment, and make the moment perfect.