“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” ―
On Christmas morning after we thoroughly inspected Santa’s cookie crumbs and opened the first stocking stuffers I made my way to the kitchen to produce pleasure in the form of traditional Christmas cuisine. I had prepped the Quiche and monkey bread the night before. Each recipe was carefully adhered to and I knew it was minutes before the bulk of my efforts were unveiled.
I opened the fridge to find egg dripping down the side of the door. Somehow my Quiche had tilted and spilled onto the monkey bread. I remember saying to myself, “I can handle this.” I scraped what I could off the monkey bread, preset the oven, and believed it to be salvageable. I got to work on remaking the Quiche and congratulated myself on saving breakfast. I retreated back to gift distribution with great confidence and self-worth.
Minutes later I smelled burning. The bottom of the monkey bread pan had residual egg on it, which was now burning in the oven. As I opened the oven door to grab the monkey bread my oven glove caught fire. Panicked, I dropped the monkey bread pan and sticky contents spilled everywhere. I mean it. No surface was safe.
As I set to work for a quick clean up to ensure I wouldn’t miss more magic, I noticed my Quiche wasn’t rising.
I had tried so hard to create a perfect Christmas morning breakfast. I failed.
It became apparent to my parents and husband that I was in crisis. Ever so gently my mother pulled me aside. She took it upon herself to remind me that a perfect Christmas breakfast was far from what we were celebrating or what mattered. She urged me to sit down and watch my girls, which of course instantly brought me back into the realm of reality. This, their faces, their wonder, and their joy is what I’d remember. The messy magic and the miniature hugs were all that mattered.
The kitchen was sticky for a few days. My parents ended up walking to Dunkin Donuts to produce our morning Christmas feast. I sat, coffee in hand, next to my love watching our little loves revel in the spirit of the season.
I think my mother was wrong about one thing. I won’t forget about the Christmas morning I failed. It reminded me about the power of presence.
For 2019, here’s hoping we remember perfection is overrated and that presence is the perfect present.