It was late, I knew it probably needed one more go over, I probably should add more journal entries or maybe even research some quotes that conveyed how we were feeling at the time. The colors looked wrong, too. Maybe I had picked the wrong theme to begin with.
For the last few weeks, I had been forgoing my other naptime activities and working on a photo book that would capture my family’s memories for the last 5 years. I had found the most important photos, wrote captions for most and did all else that was necessary for the project to be finished, but it wasn’t perfect. I knew it would benefit from more edits and updates. The problem was, I had already put several precious naptimes into it and as much as I wish it weren’t so, I needed my naptime for naps again. I couldn’t make it perfectly, but I could make it. So, with some finality and out of a desire to simply have those memories to look at, I pushed the order button, knowing it was not perfect.
When it arrived a few weeks later, I quickly ripped off the wrapping, eager to see my handiwork. It was bad, the captions were in the wrong places, some of the pictures were fuzzy and there were even spelling errors, but that didn’t stop my kids from snatching it from my hands and greedily reading through it. They loved it, they love it still. I often find them curled up reading it, they must know by now it’s not perfect. But they don’t seem to care. I had almost paralogized that because the photo book could not be made perfectly it was not worth making at all.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that should you choose to purchase through the links provided, I will get a small commission. Thank you.
A few years after this first photo book, I read a book about housekeeping by Marla Cilley. In her book, Sink Reflections she remarks that one deterrent that keeps us from cleaning our homes is that we believe that our cleaning must always be done perfectly. We mistakenly think that if we don’t have time to clean the whole kitchen after doing the dishes that we might as well not do the dishes. But she argues that “Housework done incorrectly still blesses our family.” (p.86) Her argument is that wiping down your sink, doing a quick mop up or even unloading your dishwasher will bless your family even if you don’t do more than this.
But does this really work? I had to try it out for myself. I am happy to report that it does. When I don’t have time or energy to clean the counters, sweep the floors and do the dishes, my family is still blessed when I just pick one of those chores. Doing a little bit every day, still makes a difference.
I think this applies not only to cleaning our house, but many of our tasks.
I’d like to feed my kids healthy meals, cut out all the sugar and engender a love of broccoli, but all I seem to be able to do is encourage them have vegetables at lunch and at least one veggie at dinner. That one healthy habit still blesses our family.
I’d like to spend more time reading with my kids, but with our crazy schedule and my scatterbrained-too tired self, we probably only average one book a year. That one story still blesses our family.
I’d like to tell them I love them and spend as much time with them as I can, but most days I’m doing good if I take the time to really look at them or say “yes” when they offer to help me. That small amount of one on one time still blesses our family.
Since that first photo book, I’ve gone on to create one photo book a year for our family. The process has gotten easier and has included some of my original thoughts for that first imperfect book. I still start with the most important tasks, but because of time and repetition, those books get done quickly and are more professional looking these days.
The thing is, none of these later photo books would have come into being if I hadn’t made that first, imperfect one. I have learned that I have to start from where I am, do the most important tasks first and keep trying because perfection really is the enemy if it keeps me from doing anything, no matter how small or imperfect, that will bless my family.
Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend, or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you could or do albeit imperfectly that still blesses your family.