Don’t Wait For Perfect

Yesterday was the first real snow of the season (yeah, I know it’s not technically winter until the 21st, but white stuff on the ground is reason enough for me to call it winter).  I was in the middle of saying the Grace After Meals when I looked up and noticed big, fluffy flakes drifting to the ground.  I got my kids’ attention and pointed to the window, and they were rightfully excited.

“Snow!  Snow!  It’s snowing!  It’s winter!  It’s December!  It’s snoooooooowing! We can have a snowball fight!  Hooray!”

That’s a fairly accurate representation of their reaction.

It was a busy day for us, what with trying to set up a Skype date with Bubby, and a new clarinet student due to start, despite the snow (yes, I may be starting to teach again, but on a very, very minimal basis.  Like one student minimal).  So getting those kids out into the snow was maybe a mid-priority kind of activity.  Plus, I had no idea where any of their snow gear was, or if I even had any snow gear for them.  I mean, we live in Baltimore, which, coming from Cleveland, I didn’t quite associate with snowy winters, so I hadn’t rushed out to buy boots and pants and all that.

But after the lesson (during which they were happily playing some educational computer games, thankfully), I felt that it would be a shame if I didn’t let them frolic around in the snow.  It was the first snow of the year.  And really, what else was I doing?  Dishes?  Laundry?  Facebook?

After rummaging around in the attic, it was apparent that we really didn’t have the right gear.  No snow pants for anyone.  Boots that were too big for one, too small for the other (we didn’t use those, don’t worry, we used another too-big pair), and non-existent for the third.  No mittens for the baby.  Well, one mitten.

Sigh.

Was it really worth it?  The cold and the wet and the struggle to dress the little ones?  Wouldn’t there be snow in the future?  Couldn’t I do it later, when I had all the things I needed and the conditions were more favorable (like after they have learned to dress themselves)?

Stop.  Back Up.

How often do I do this to myself, waiting around for the “perfect” conditions?  For all the factors I want to be aligned before I make a move?  This attitude has held me back from writing and submitting articles, writing music, performances, chores (yes, that too), my avodas Hashem, in short, life.  It’s part of the chronic perfectionism that I constantly battle.  Because how often are things exactly how we want them?  

There’s a mishnah in Pirkei Avos (the Ethics of Our Fathers- 1:14 if you want the source) where Hillel, one of our great Rabbis asks “If not now, when?”  While he may not have meant taking my kids out to play in the snow, it’s totally applicable.  We never really know what the future holds, and, not to get totally serious on you here, but we don’t know how long we have in this world.  Sometimes we have to push through our procrastination, or our lethargy, or our fatigue.  Sometimes we have to just do it now .*

So we did it.  We went into the snow.  And it was glorious.

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This next picture was taken after the baby fell in the snow and discovered that it is both cold and wet.  I interpret her look as “Why didn’t you tell me?!!?!”

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They wanted to help shovel.

IMG_3727Getting that “snowball fight” that they wanted

IMG_3729And, of course, what’s a day in the snow without some hot cocoa and mini marshmallows afterwards?

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It was totally worth it.

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*if you didn’t go out yesterday for whatever reason, I am judging you, don’t worry.  Sometimes the right choice is to stay in, and sometimes I don’t have the energy to go out.  Sometimes “if not now, when” applies to resting, too, especially for mommies!

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23 thoughts on “Don’t Wait For Perfect

  1. This brought the biggest smile to my face! “If not now, when?” LOVE It. And it’s so true. At the end of the day, it’s these little moments that we will treasure the most… how often do we let them pass us by? Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I’m so glad! Motherhood can be very grueling sometimes, and it’s easy to just want to rest (speaking for myself here), but yeah, sometimes we need a little push to make those moments!

    • There are so many lies modern culture tells us, and even after we realize it, sometimes the concepts are so internalized that it takes a lot of work to remember the truth! I’m glad that I made the effort, too.

  2. It’s so true Rivki–there is never a good time to do anything really. There’s never a good time to get to the grocery store, workout, play, write, cook, etc. Just have to get off the tush and do it. I have to make myself to so many things. I’m never sorry. I only regret doing nothing.

  3. Just what I needed to hear. Directly because of this post, my girls got to do an activity they now love that I’ve been pushing off until I feel better/get in the mood/get motivated/[insert other excuse here]. Because of this, we just did it today, and it was awesome. We don’t have snow so we made our own – with shaving cream! They played in the bathtub, made a huge mess on the walls and themselves, and had a blast. I dislike touching textured things, so it’s always been something I know is good for kids but couldn’t bring myself to do – but today was the day! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Thank you so much! (My girls thank you too!)

  4. As a mom, I totally get where you’re coming from with waiting for the “perfect time.” I find myself always procrastinating about inviting guests for Shabbos. And offering to make meals/help out with other chesed stuff. I always “claim” it’s because I’m “putting my family first” (I know! I know! It’s a legit excuse! Except when it’s coming from your Yetzer Hara…)

    As an artist, I was paralyzed by fear of imperfection for decades. It took me like 20 years to be OK with the fact that I was never gonna be Bob Dylan or Paul Simon, or even Eli Gerstner. Now I just push myself to make the darn music, and get past all the voices in my head. Someone once told me “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I might not have brilliant output all the time (or ever…) but there’s nothing to be ashamed of in a good, solid piece of music that was not in this world before I came along.

    • Absolutely. We have to be vigilant that we are being honest with ourselves about our limitations. There are so many times as a mother (or as a human) when we have to say no, but when that “time of no” stops and the “time of yes” starts, the line can get a little blurry.

  5. I love this! I’m guilty of it too. I hate the whole ordeal of getting the kids ready to play out in the snow! But you’re right, we can’t wait until it’s the perfect time. This is an idea I’m trying to embrace more and more. Thus the name of my blog. ;) Found you on SITS.

  6. Major hashgacha – one of the lessons I think Hashem is trying to teach me through circumstances right now! Thanks so much to you and the other commenters for all your insights (and validation!). It’s so tricky sometimes to find that balance between “Yes, just do it now!” and “Do not fool yourself into thinking that this is realistic or smart. Learn from experience here!”

    By the way, a friend has a motto – “Done is better than perfect.” In other words, Tafasta Merubeh Lo Tafasta.) (For the benefit of all: You got a lot, you got nothing.)

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