One of my really great excuses for the feral detritus of my life in general, and my floor and counters in particular, is that I’m a perfectionist of the worst sort*: a failed one. I can’t decide whether my recipes should be organized alphabetically, by genre, or by ingredient—so instead I have some recipes on index cards, some online, some in a binder, and some spilling out of a huge manila folder that I waste countless minutes sorting whenever I need to make apple bread.
Laundry flummoxes me, not because of its sheer volume, but because I can’t figure out a system that accounts for not only clean and dirty clothes, but also the items that are too-clean-to-wash-but-not-quite-clean-enough-to-put-back-in-a-drawer. So miscellaneous articles of clothing in varying degrees of cleanliness end up strewn here and heaped there. Worse: I’ll miss a day or two of devotions and be tempted to throw over the whole endeavor as hopeless. Or I’ll determine to keep patience with the three-year-old for an entire day…OK, an entire hour…OK, I might as well just give up on that one too...
It hardly needs saying that the presence of multiple small children is antithetical to perfectionism. Children are antithetical, in fact, to most petty delusions of control, and therefore quite helpful to this humbled self who’s still working, every day, on that very first commandment. There is a God, and I am not He.
*I can sympathize with the argument that a successful perfectionist, who can be quite annoying to the population in general, is in fact the worst kind of perfectionist. But a frustrated perfectionist seems particularly prone to anger, despair, and other great shame and vice.