Choosing Perfectly Imperfect Moments

380 days of loving more!

A few weeks before my wedding I got some of the best advice from a friend who had just been a Bridesmaid. She said, “whatever happens, choose to smile and laugh, don’t be a b*tch.” I kid you not. At the moment, I thought this was peculiar advice. Of course I wouldn’t be a b*tch on my wedding day! I would be oozing love and joy and all things magical and wonderful of course!

And then during my cocktail hour, a friend and I went to hug and in our exuberance misjudged our arm placements. We collectively knocked his glass of red wine down the front of my dress. My beautiful, white, wedding dress. What’s a Bride to do?

I laughed, of course!

And then, as my mother and friends tried to rush me to the bathroom to save my dress, I joyfully said, “It’s all good! Really! Let me eat some h’orsdeuvres!” They looked at me in disbelief. Who was this Bride and where was the real person they knew who flipped out over the smallest things??? And then in the bathroom, as they all tried to clean my dress, I continued laughing and said, “Just give me some more wine, I’ll pour it on my dress in other spots and make a polka dot dress!” I was not kidding, not one bit.

All that is missing from this picture is my smile and my mother’s face with her draw dropped open, expressing her thought “The dress, the dress! The wine is on the beading and the front!”

Was I drunk? Nope. I just remembered the advice from my friend and CHOSE to not let the great red wine incident of January 3, 2004 ruin my Wedding Day. See, when my friend was a bridesmaid a few weeks prior to my wedding, she witnessed the Bride go ballistic on a fellow bridesmaid after she accidentally spilled wine all over her. My friend explained to me how the Bride singlehandedly ruined both her own wedding and one of her friendships with her terse words and screaming, hissy fit. As she shared this story with me she said, “Whatever you do, if something goes wrong at your wedding, because it probably will, don’t be that Bride. Choose to enjoy everything else around you.”

Choose.

Such a key word. I am so glad that I chose on my wedding day to let the red wine incident go. In fact, short of getting married, it is one of my favorite memories of that day. Oddly enough though, despite that wonderful experience and knowing that I can always make the choice to focus on the positive and not the negative, when I became a mom I completely forgot this lesson! Before this challenge, I did a truly phenomenal job of letting small or big annoying things bring me down and ruin special days. Blech.

I remember my first birthday as a mom. I remember my son crying all day and my just wanting to have fun and celebrate. I let it get to me instead of enjoying all the phone calls and cards and flowers that arrived that day; I let the crying ruin my mood, my day.

I remember my first Thanksgiving with two kids and trying to get a family picture for a Christmas Card. I remember the tears from all three of us because no one was cooperating and I just wanted the perfect card. I let my disappointment get to me; I let it ruin my mood, my Thanksgiving day.

I remember our first family vacation to the beach with three kids in tow. I remember being so frustrated that it wasn’t a real vacation, that no child was sleeping, that I couldn’t sit back and read a book. I let my annoyances get to me; I let them ruin my first three vacation days.

On day 4, I finally woke up and remembered something. I had a choice. I could choose to complain and whine or choose to embrace the beach, crying babies and all. I chose to embrace all that was around me and ignore the few things getting me down. The rest of the vacation was great. Not perfect, but great nonetheless.

On my 365th day of my challenge when my son had his seizure I felt anger; and I have felt it for the last few weeks. BUT I made a choice that day. I would NOT let that seizure ruin my day, and I didn’t.  I had my angry moment and then I focused on how grateful I was that my husband was home to help. I focused on how grateful I was that even though the emergency medicine didn’t work, he still came out of the seizure okay. I focused on how excited my boys were to release balloons and eat celebratory cake. I focused on how lucky I was to have such a supportive Orange Rhino Community. And you know what else I did that day? After I cried, and re-focused on all the good things? I laughed.

I laughed because I knew in my heart of hearts that #4 would have a seizure that day. I just knew it, so much so I almost wrote it down on paper and hid it to show my husband later. If there is one thing I have learned as a mom it’s that chances are that on the days and times that I really, really want to be totally awesome and perfect and special, as long as I have young children, something will probably go wrong. Whether it be one child doesn’t nap and is cranky, one child gets a fever, one child falls, or one child just knows I want the day to be easy and therefore refuses to let it be as such, the chance is something will not meet my expectations.

And I have finally accepted that and it is OKAY with me and thankfully stopped yelling at those moments. My kids are just kids; they don’t need to be perfect. And I don’t need perfect moments. I just need happy moments and I can choose to make imperfect moments, happy. I can choose to be a little more laid back with more realistic expectations because that does help the moment go smoother (and keeps me from yelling.) And I can choose to focus on the good even when things happen beyond my control because they are going to, time and time again.

That certainly was the case two weeks ago. But thank gosh for The Orange Rhino Challenge because it is a daily reminder that just like on my wedding day, I have a choice every moment. I can let things get to me when my expectations for a special “perfect” day aren’t met and I can be a yelling, hissy fit b*tch, or I can be a loving mom who goes with the flow and appreciates the perfectly imperfect moments!

I am going with the flow a lot more now and I have got to tell you, it makes for a lot more beautiful, yell-free memories. This is entirely new territory for me – not letting unmet expectations ruin special moments or days – and I still struggle at times to remember to make the choice to focus on the positive. But when I do, oh does it truly feel better. It feels great not fretting and fighting over Christmas pictures, not complaining and crying over restless vacations, and not yelling and yipping over my kids behavior when they are just being kids and are trying their best to please me (because they are you know….)

At the end of the day, my kids are not perfect; I am not perfect. Together we will not always have perfect moments. But, we can have lots of happily imperfect ones that are perfect because we are together…and because I choose to focus on the positive, not the negative.

* Note: Emphasis on the I am not perfect. I am not, truly. I believe everything I have written here but will sometimes forget it. But I will still try to embrace and remember all of it because again, when I do, it is awesome.

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6 thoughts on “Choosing Perfectly Imperfect Moments

  1. Oh, thank you for making all of your struggles and successes public. I found you today on Pinterest. It feels like a miracle actually. On Monday I had a major blow up over a small issue and felt incredible guilt. At bedtime when i went to say goodnight to her, my daughter (9) said “Mom, I don’t think I want to have kids when I grow up.” I asked her why and she said she didn’t want to have kids just to yell and be mad at them all the time. Heartbreaking. I need to change. I am hoping your challenge will help me but, honestly, I am worried that it is a hopeless cause at this point. I have spent a lot of time reading your blog tonight and the similarities between your former self and me give me hope. Maybe, just maybe, one year from now my kids and I will be releasing our own balloons…

  2. I love that we will all be imperfect together…. So true and so awesome. Those moments make us love the individualism that each family brings to the table. By the way I have not raised my voice since llast weekend…thank you. 😉

  3. You’re amazing orange rhino ! If I can manage to get even 0.0005% of your resolve and sensibilities, I think I will be a much happeir person, and my kids, family and home will be much happier as well :) Please keep loving more and sharing more….. its keeps people like me think daily about what we do need to do to make our own lives just a wee bit happier ! Thx for sharing

  4. I think you can strike the “young” – when you have children, something will go wrong. Just ask my mum, when she’s trying to get a 16yr old, a 22yr old and a 26yr old to be in the same place for just one weekend!

  5. My husband hates when I have wine, even half a glass, because instances of yelling increase. I think yelling is a personality choice now after having read your articles. We have a non-alcohol house lately, even though I rarely ever had more than 2 glasses. Now I feel I can make the choice to handle things differently, wine or not, with kids, husbands or sisters, keeping cool is an art that I am so glad you are teaching us. I especially like the personal care part. That is amiss. Im a massage therapist who rarely gets massage, terrible! There is hope for me ( and wine!) yet!

  6. We have the same wedding day! OK, mine was a couple of years earlier but let’s not quibble over small things. I feel so cool by association! Did you know you were cool? You are one of my personal heroes. I struggle with yelling and I cherish your posts. So far I’ve had a lot of Day 1’s but I know I will make it to day 2 eventually. I keep at it each day and my oldest child is supportive. He’s 6. The youngest is confused. She’s 3 and a half and just doesn’t get it. Go Orange Rhinos, Go!!!

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