It’s been three days since my dear husband stayed in bed. First it looked like he catches a cold. Fearing that he would share his virus to the children we arranged him to sleep alone in my daughter’s room. Two mornings later he woke up unable to move his right feet. Somehow he had sprained his ankle in his sleep, just like he did a few months ago, and from then on he didn’t leave the bedroom, unable to walk.
For days I’ve been taking care of the children alone, and one time in my own tiredness from taking care of one sick husband and two not so healthy but too merry kids, I had to clean the bathroom. What uninteresting task! I brushed the toilet, cleaned the basin and mopped the floor. Scrubbed here and there, wiped here and there, wishing it would be finished soon enough so I could leave the bathroom and moved to the screaming kids downstairs.
“It’s not perfect, it’s not perfect”, I thought.
“It’s not clean enough, it’s not dry enough.”
“It should be enough for today,” replied myself.
And in a sudden I remembered my mom…
I used to be a low-tolerance-perfectionist girl. I often felt annoyed to see how my mom worked in our house. This was not clean enough, that was not neat, this was not in colour order. Annoyed but yet helped not. I was simply blind and over regarded my standards – only seeing that my mom didn’t do well enough. And now with my own weariness bending my back – mopping the bathroom floor with the last count of my enthusiasm, I suddenly understand why my mom was not doing ‘the best’.
She was tired, she was overwhelmed. She had to do too many things by herself and bore so many hurdles on her own. She didn’t do what people see as the best, but actually she gave better than her best. I don’t know how it took me decades to realize that.
We need to see people on their own and not merely by their works. Yes sure we can tell a tree by the fruit it bears, but we must not overlook the persons themselves. Their condition, their efforts, their struggles have to be taken to consideration. Too often we immediately show our disapproval without looking past the faded smile of a person who has actually gone beyond her best to do something for us.
Often we think that they don’t do it well enough because they just don’t put enough effort into it. But it’s actually like a perspective of a stranger who comes into my house and finds it messy and unappealing to see without knowing the struggles behind the chaos. A person with close relationships should be able to see much deeper than someone who judges without looking beneath the surface.
Someone with love should see others with love and understanding, with an apprehension of someone’s current situation, of his past and backgrounds, of his strength and weakness. We show our loves by accepting someone’s weakness and have empathy in his labour. And it’s not easy.
It’s not easy because we often think too high about ourselves, we regard our truth as the only truth. But in reality, as difficult as our fight in everyday’s battle, others fight too. They struggle too. And their struggles are real, too.
Now I understand one commercial in Singapore I watched years ago, about a wife who praised her man in his funeral as an imperfectly perfect husband. She finally understood that behind her moans about so many imperfect things her husband did, it was actually all perfect because he did it with all his heart. And he fitted actually perfectly even when the small details did not.
I think only someone with true compassion and love can say, “he/she is imperfectly perfect for me.” Without the eyes of love, we can only point out how not perfect something is. But with love and understanding, we can see beyond the result and say, “It’s perfect, my dear. Thank you very much for doing that for me.”
Can you see a perfect effort behind an imperfection today?