The Secret You Need to Know About Family

Practice makes perfect!” my piano teacher repeated throughout my elementary musical attempts. I’m not sure I’d call my awkward recital performances perfect. But my parents certainly beamed proudly in the audience and the crowd applauded my feeble attempts.  Looking back, maybe my few reluctant hours at my living room piano each week weren’t enough to perfect my skill.

But if practice makes perfect then certainly 8 years into marriage, I should be the perfect wife. That’s 70,080 straight hours of practice I’ve logged to date. And 5 years later, my motherhood skills shouldn’t be too shabby either. I think mom hours count double after a second child is born too. So that’s a lot of practice.

Somehow I’m still huffing at my husband for getting home late and regularly fussing at my kids to hustle out the door.

Is it just me or are my efforts not following the formula to equal results—perfection— in my family?

Somedays I stare mesmerized at that mom in the next checkout over: hair in place, proclaiming her love and home cooked dinner plans over the phone to her husband, kids neatly dressed and happily buckled into the cart. I’ve been tempted to ask her for the magic pill or cream or wand. I need to wave it over my unruly girls clad in polka dot capris, plaid shirts, neon socks, and reading glasses necklaces while they kick and cry for M&Ms before we drive through Sonic.

What is the secret to that other family? Somebody help a momma out and fill me in!

But a near decade later, I think I’ve finally figured out the secret. Thousands of disappointments in unreal comparison, weeks of self-inflicted motherhood guilt, days of unnecessary heartache over unmet expectations, and an embarrassing number of nights nagging my sweet husband to bed, I finally know.

There is no such thing as a perfect family.

 I know it. You know it. And so does that seemingly flawless shopper with a cart full of organic on aisle 8.

I’m also finally okay with it. Because what if perfection isn’t the goal? Who says a family has to be perfect to be valuable? To be worth it? To be good?

Instead of trying to be perfect, let’s just be present. I’m pretty sure my tantrummers would have been more manageable if I remembered they existed instead of gaggling over another mom’s perceived good life. Honestly, enjoying what we’ve been given is the true good life.

-Giving yourself fully to your family.

-Loving them well every day.

-Making the most of the moments you have with them.

-Sticking with it, working through it together till the end…like you said you would in your vows that day.

-Passing on your faith to the next generation.

That’s the ideal environment to grow a healthy, happy family. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

By Tracy Lane