In the hidden corners of my mind, where I often see sugarplums dancing, I also have visions of the Me I want to be–the Me I secretly believe myself to be. She is equal parts Martha Stewart (the non-jail version), Ina Garten (the lightweight version), Mother Theresa (the not-so-old version), and a fashion plate.
She does not exist. On me or anyone else.
But the aspirations are still there. So, when I had gotten a pass on hosting duties for the past couple of years due to bed rest and then as the sleepless owner of a newborn, I knew that my first group dinner at our house would have to kick ass. Or at least not totally flounder and end in food poisoning. My standards, they are high. I wisely chose to keep the menu simple and familiar, but that didn’t keep me from cooking all day and throwing the vacuum around like a rag doll. When all was said and done, everyone left full and happy (though I have a family full of bullshitters, so who really knows for sure?).
And me? I was exhausted. And a little buzzed.
I write a lot about being a recovering approval-holic, but there is the occasional relapse. I want people to perceive me a certain way. I want to appear capable, intelligent, put-together. Which makes me sometimes, in the effort, forget Who put me together. I want the perfect meal, the perfect house, the perfect lighting, the perfect picture of my life. Meanwhile, people just want to eat. Especially The Kid, who doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about whether his food is homemade or organic or featured on Pinterest.
I don’t want to create a home life where perfection is the honored guest. I don’t want to set the scene for The Kid in a way that he never encounters Confusion or Difficulty or Failure, because those are some of life’s greatest professors and I was so afraid of their classes until I stopped trying to audit them. I don’t want my son to make being perfect his goal, to think that is where love resides, because it doesn’t. God showed up in a stable, not a Park Avenue dinner party.
The morning after our hosting was done, I came downstairs to a TH-sponsored dearth of dirty dishes, which gave me a moment to look out the window at the seasonally changing backyard. It was bathed in golden rays, and I remembered that there’s only One who does perfect lighting. Around noon, I took a piece of bread and a shot glass of grape juice from a tray in a gym. It was supper. It was perfect.