A lot of what gets me down is my inability to control things, to not be able to grasp them and fix them the way that I know that I can. This seemed to go into overdrive after I had the baby. I felt so responsible for everything that could go wrong because I’d spent the 15 or so months that I was pregnant thinking about all of the ways that my decision to have the baby could screw up the lives of everyone involved.
I remember rocking him to sleep one night when he was pretty little and telling him how I was going to make everything just right. Me and daddy would finish school, we’d get good jobs, we’d get our own house, maybe a dog, and we would never have to worry about money the way we did then. I would lead by example. Somehow I would make this world deserving of him.
Of course, my promises to him were and are much more than just those material symbols. I will always look out for him. I will never take my role in his existence lightly. He makes my heart swell with pride and crumble with humility, so awe-inspiring it is to me that I was able to just bring him into being. But when you’re broke you start to feel broken and find yourself looking for pieces to pick up.
For awhile I was making all of those things come true. We finished school, I bought the house, we got a cat (decided a dog wasn’t right for us). But the money was always an obstacle instead of a means to an end. I became increasingly furious with the external forces at work. Politicians who cannot grasp the vast ripples that their piddly words and their tiny yeas and nays cause. Crooked business leaders who only accept one outcome. Small people with small minds who cause big problems. But most of them have held their babies in their arms. How could they want less for my baby?
I have to start letting go. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. I can’t make perfection happen the way that I think it should. In wisdom that I thought I already had, I realize that’s it not one big peak that can be achieved, not a state that stretches on indefinitely. It’s in my creaky stairs that I stumble down in the morning, the crook of the husband’s arm that has lulled me to sleep for thousands of nights, the perfect oval of my son’s head that greets me when I go to wake him up for school.
It’s when I let myself go and thrust myself toward nothingness.
That’s me, eyes closed, hair flying across my face, sweating like someone who caught the Holy Spirit. In this moment I am perfect. In this moment I am nothing. My knees bend and my lungs contract and my hands are empty. This is where perfection happens.