The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

It’s Not About Perfect, It’s About Getting Done

I may have mentioned before that I’m a bit of a recovering perfectionist.  Some of that comes from my dad.  He is all about the prep work.  You don’t start a project without a sketch — or two, or three (always in a tiny notebook with a no. 2 pencil).  You get all your supplies in advance.  You make sure you know what you are doing.  At least that is how I saw him as he tackled a kajillion home improvement projects when I was a kid.  Now my dad had an advantage — he worked in construction.  He’d spent decades as a tradesman and picked up tons of practical skills and tricks on the job from other tradesman.  We were a big family in a little house, that over our lifetimes my dad completely reinvented.  So I’ve got some high standards when it comes to working on our home.

The problem is, I don’t have a lot of opportunity.  My husband’s work schedule is, at best, erratic in nature.  Planning a several day DIY project that means counting on him, either for labor or childcare, just doesn’t always work out.  Add in any other variable, like say the need for good weather, and many projects are doomed before I even get out that no. 2 pencil.  In our first house, a fixer, at least I had only one child … and television.  Now I have three with their own crazy schedules.  So making this new house a home gets pretty complicated.  Something had to give.  And it was my perfectionism, and it went down fast and hard.

Spring arrived early here, so I hired the lawn guys to remove a huge patch of sod for our new flower bed.  Then I bought shrubs.  Then it rained.  And rained.  Grass grew where the sod had been removed.  But I moved on and ordered mulch, 6 cubic yards of it.  All last week I planted and spread mulch, without pulling out all the new grass.  The fridge got empty.  We ate a lot of sandwiches.  The kids complained.  The scattered dog hair grew into gigantic tumbleweeds that devoured the tracked in mulch and dirt.  I kept telling myself we’d be done soon, and I would shop and clean and finally send my kids to school in clean underwear (I’m kidding … I think).

But then another surprise — my husband’s 4 day work trip was unexpectedly canceled, and he had already scheduled the time off.  These 4 days backed right into the 3 day Memorial Day weekend.  YES!  The wheels began spinning.  I craved a no. 2 pencil and a tiny notebook of lined paper.  I plotted paint colors.  I got out power tools.  I cruised DIY blogs.  Oh man, I was going to do it all.  A photo gallery wall, shelves, painting our bedroom, installing a garden arbor.

A conquered DIY project from last summer

I said to my husband, “We NEED to get planning for this time off!”  He said, “Yeah, how ’bout I take J to a baseball game in a city 3 hours away? ” and “Why don’t we go to an amusement park with the kids?”

{I’ll pause now, so you can picture my apoplectic face.  Ready now?  We’ll return to the story}

After some deep, cleansing breaths, I said, “Okay, maybe we should do some of that stuff.”

I did order the garden arbor, but I know it may not get installed this week.  We bought paint, and I’m almost finished painting our bedroom.  But I skipped spackling and caulking (please don’t let Dad read this Mom).  I didn’t even bother to wipe down the walls, although I did vacuum up the dog hair-dust bunnies.  I know the new curtain rod probably still won’t get hung in that newly painted bedroom (okay, I’ve had this curtain rod for more than 6 months, so I guess I can’t call it new any longer).  The floor of my entire house is still filthy, we are still eating easy dinners, and I’m just barely keeping us all in clean clothes.

But it is spring.  To heck with clean.  Opportunity came knocking, so I’ve got projects to do.  And I’ll just keep tackling them as best I can, whenever I can.

And when I think back to watching my dad work, I finally seem to remember some sudden trips to the hardware store, or over to my uncle’s house for an unexpected supply.  When I take off those childhood, rose-colored glasses, I recall the door he never finished trimming out or the paint job that never got touched up.  Maybe he wasn’t such a perfectionist after all.  I suppose we both are just pleased by a job well-done.  Or at least almost-done.

About Amy


Amy Bader is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. A photography course in high school sent her to college with a journalism degree in mind, but some surprises along the way led to a career in veterinary medicine. Motherhood has brought things full circle, and now she is concentrating on her photography, finding her creative self and expressing the joys in life. When she isn’t chasing her boy/girl twins, helping her older son with homework, washing the dog, or cooking a meal -- she is probably watching some new tutorial or dreaming of art supplies. It’s a crazy life, but a good one.

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