My dad is back in hospital. Today, could be right now, he’s having an operation to remove a melanoma from his brain. I’m meant to be being productive – working on the novel, working on my fitness, working on the enormous jigsaw we tasked ourselves with these school holidays – but I can’t settle. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it. Don’t think about mum on her own, don’t imagine more grief on the bereavement pile. And don’t. Don’t bother beating yourself up about how we could have talked more, how I could have listened harder, how we weren’t perfect.
Perfection is a myth. I don’t want it, never have, I don’t believe in perfect. In two ways, that there, is an imperfect sentence. I did believe in perfection when I was young. I could do perfect cartwheels, I was told they were good, they even felt perfect when I was doing them. The rest of anything I tried was up for grabs in the perfect department. Striving for perfection was food for my procrastination – I couldn’t start because I wanted it perfect, I couldn’t finish because it might not be perfect.
My relationship with my dad has been short of perfect. He is who he is and I am me. I wanted him to be better and I know I was his mirror in that regard.
If you’re lucky enough, and if you try, you can see your parents as people. It takes a bit. You have to shed the idea that they own you in some way and that you own them. A person’s role is to be who they are. My parents are flesh and bone icebergs. What I see, what I think I know of them, is not the sum of them, they are mysterious. Same for me, and same goes for my kids. I gave birth to my kids but they are their own. One of the best parts of my parenthood is watching these people grow away from me. I have had difficulty applying the same idea to my parents.
To discover my parents weren’t perfect was a blow. I believe I held it against them.
My parents are not perfect. I am not perfect. My kids are not perfect. Doesn’t matter. Perfection is a dump of a place with no inhabitants and nothing to learn.
No, I don’t believe in perfection, and if you could see what I’m wearing right now you’d understand, but I do believe in nourishing what you have. Forgiveness and acceptance are the new black and I’ll feed and water them.
Dad, in my imperfect, and sometimes thankless way, I love you.
we are all works in progress.