Two Kinds of Perfect

by Jenifer DeMattia
Originally Published: 

It’s around 3:30AM and I am not asleep. I sort of slept standing up over a crib for a while, I think, while my 6-month-old held onto my finger with a death grip that I couldn’t get out of and didn’t really want to because at least he was finally sleeping.

I was the same way for my mother when I was a baby. She has always told me that one day I would get my payback. I thought it was so funny that my first-born was an awesome sleeper, but with the second my payback has come. It’s dark and quiet now, the time when self-reflection comes flooding in through delirium.

I remember having extreme anxiety as a child. From what I can recall, it started with wetting the bed. I fought sleep because I was so terrified to once again wake up soaking wet. I couldn’t control it. Then the dreaded walk into my parent’s room. I can still see them sleeping in the dark, debating which one was going to feel the slight shake from my small hand waking them to help me change my sheets. And it seems like just when I got it under control, my parents separated and a whole new set of emotional issues emerged.

As a kid I was shy, and extremely sensitive. It affected me growing up and in my first years of marriage. It was like I didn’t allow my true self to come out, for some reason she was silenced. And just when I got it under control, I had a child of my own. The insecurities and fear collided into a mix of I don’t want to screw this up and oh my God I am screwing this up. I always say, and still believe, that I’m glad things happened the way they did, but in hindsight it could have been so much better. If only the me now could talk to the me then. And it makes me wonder what kinds of struggles my own children will have as they grow.

I would love to say they will be strong, confident men who are perfect in every way but I doubt that will be the case. Every time I have met someone whom I thought completely had it together, I always come to learn after getting to know them that they have overcome their own struggles to be the person they are today.

At first, thinking about all of this makes me scared for my boys. In the next room there is a little boy wearing underwear to bed for the first time instead of a pull-up. The thing is, I never thought I was struggling when I was little. I was just living my life. When we have difficulties, we deal with them, overcome them, and continue on.

And one day my kids will do the same. In fact, they’re doing it right now and don’t even know it. And I’m still doing it. And that is growth. Most things that we do, we do a little differently the next time. If we decide to grow a garden, we may put the seeds further apart the second time around, but regardless, there’s still some growth. So, while I’m having these thoughts I’ll go ahead and put it in writing so they have a permanent place in this world.

Boys, I am not sorry for screwing it up. I will only be sorry if one day you are not able to recognize that it’s the little screw-ups that just may be what makes you perfect.

“There are two kinds of perfect: The one you can never achieve, and the other, by just being yourself.” -Lauren King

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