4: entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings
The girls and I went to one of our favorite places yesterday - Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. I realized at fall break last year that Cheekwood is a wonderful place for my children to roam. It combines several things we all love: art, nature, great picnic spots and a laid back attitude. This visit was to be a bit different. We were joining a group of home school parents for a self guided tour of the Chihuly exhibit. My girls and I have seen this exhibit several times, but we were planning to go over fall break to see it one more time before the exhibit closes. I thought it would be fun for B and K to meet some of A's home school friends and I thought A would enjoy exploring Cheekwood with new friends.
It went mostly according to plan. The very large group pretty much immediately split up into several smaller groups. My girls and some others enjoyed using water colors on coffee filters to create their very own versions of Chihuly's macchia sculptures. I love to watch all of my daughters create, but B is especially gifted in this. She always comes up with her very own way to do things and others (ahem, me) often end up copying her style (though I tend to have less success).
K was immediately happy on this field trip. One of her ballet class friends was a part of this group and she immediately included K with her other friends and made her feel happy and included. Likewise, A spent a good portion of the day hanging out with friends from her tutorial program.
And then there's B. My nine year old middle child who simply must do everything her own way, who must chart her own course and live her life her way. At one point, she came up beside me and said, "I don't think anyone who is home schooled likes me." It just about broke my heart. This comment came close on the heels of B complaining to me that the other children where telling her what she should and shouldn't do - something she hates, whether adults or children do the telling.
I share this to remind myself and others that no day in this life is never perfect. Yesterday was a wonderful day. Our morning started slow, with pancakes for breakfast and plenty of time in our pajamas before readying for Cheekwood. Cheekwood itself was a blast - we enjoyed hopping from one glass installation to another, seeing our favorites but not stressing about seeing all of them. We snacked, we sketched, we rested, we walked the sculpture trail just the four of us. We laid on the grass, looked at floating glass sculptures and just enjoyed the day sinking into evening.
But it still wasn't the perfect day. My girls fought with each other. B felt wounded. I was impatient.
Last year at fall break the four of us went to Cheekwood. I realized then that our family is in a sweet season - K is old enough to go anywhere without a stroller, I never carry a diaper bag, no one naps (except me), yet our eldest daughter is still young enough to enjoy being with us. We're in a window that may close at any moment. So I'm trying to savor this season while it lasts. But in the midst of the savoring, I have to remember that perfection just isn't on the agenda. Even with daughters who enjoy each other's company and are wonderfully unique individuals, there will be parenting challenges that leave me reeling, exhausted and without words.
I suppose this is how it's supposed to be. If we could ever achieve the perfect day, we wouldn't have that ache for the life to come. We might actually be satisfied here. So I guess my girls are just doing their part to make sure I don't fall into complacency. As for me, I'll keep trying to take the good with the bad and not let the failures and mishaps of life overshadow the loveliness of a day spent walking in the autumn sun, seeing beautiful art and hanging out with my three favorite girls.