I arrived in Philadelphia this morning from Charleston, South Carolina, where I had been for a writing workshop with Guideposts magazine (wonderful experience--always is). I thought I would just meet Anthony curbside, but he surprised me and came inside with the kids. Grace and Genevieve ran and gave me huge hugs, then the books they had made (Genevieve's, titled "The Adventures of Genevieve and Mommy," was short and simple: "Once upon a time, Mommy and Genevieve were walking a dog. Then, they heard a loud crash!" The End). Joseph kicked wildly and reached for me, smiling that huge baby grin. It was lovely! After our mini-reunion I did notice that Grace and Genevieve clearly had not bathed or brushed their hair all weekend, and that Joseph was not wearing socks on a chilly November day, but I chose not to say anything. The kids were safe and sound, they had had a great time with their dad, and, after all, who really cared what they looked like? That was all superficial stuff, I reminded myself (though I did find a pair of socks for Joseph in the car). And I am trying hard in my life to not let the things that I want (a clean house, well-dressed and freshly bathed children... ) interfere with what I really, really want (a happy marriage, joyful children). You'd think this would be easy, but it's not.
At the workshop this weekend, Guideposts editor Edward Grinnan signed his book The Promise of Hope for me, and I started reading it on the plane. It's a great story. He talks about workaholic overachievers at one point, saying, "There is no greater toxin to the soul than the self-expectation of perfection." The expectation of perfection is a toxin to others as well, of course. So as I settle back into my "real life" after this weekend of refreshment, I'm going to try very hard to remember that imperfections are a part of life to be overlooked, and at times embraced, but certainly not polished over.