An imperfect life

August 28, 2007

This is a post that I’ve started in one form or another many times. In trying to write about it yesterday, I realized that I don’t really know how to write about my life with authenticity the way I can write about someone else’s. Maybe the truth is that I can’t really write about someone else’s life either — it just sounds more convincing when it’s about someone else.

There’s an objectivity that comes with space, even though, in the end it’s still just my perception. I don’t have that space with myself. And I’m aware of it, sometimes painfully aware.

In trying to think through how to be more real with you, I have come up with the following, which is hopefully less laborious than some of the tripe I’ve been saving as drafts.

I’d like to start out by listing some of the things I am most grateful for. They include:

My imperfect relationship with Jon
My wonderful and imperfect children
My children’s health
The fact that my kids are bright enough and sensitive enough to make it in this world
Our home
My job
Family members who are supportive and loving
Extended family and friends who add joy

That’s the short list.

If I were to add to it, I would add: my health, Jon’s health, the ability to see, hear and feel this incredible world. Music. Laughter. Being able to read. Connection in its many forms. Smokey.

But then there’s the list of things I would change. The “I Wish” list. The “I Want” list. I’m of the understanding that one of the primary beliefs of Buddhism is that life is filled with suffering and that the root of suffering is desire. Take out the desire, and suffering goes with it.

In some ways I feel like I should stop wanting these things. In some ways I feel like working to make these things happen is necessary. I’m still working my way through it — especially the big ones.

But today, here they are. My wish list:

I wish I knew that when my kids were with their other parents that they were safe.

Hmmmm. Wish Number Two.



Actually, I guess that’s about it.

Seriously. I’m sitting here staring at the computer screen, and if I knew in my heart that my kids were safe and cared for, I think I wouldn’t ask for much more.

Oh, maybe that Jon would be a little more perfect.

Or that I would be a little more perfect.

Or that I didn’t have to deal with LJ’s mom’s temper.

Or that my parents and I got along better.

Or that maybe, just once, my ex would write a check for his half of our daughter’s health insurance the way he’s supposed to.

But you know what?

Nothing really compares to the first want. And I don’t know how to make that wanting go away. I’m not sure that it should. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t.

Finding that balance between what to fight for, what to get a new perspective on and what to let go. That’s the trick. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that one out and probably will be working on it for quite some time.



  1. Beautiful and wise, tool. What a lethal combination. Letting go is my big one, and I’ve worked doggedly at it for over a decade, and sometimes I get my serene moments in which all is good. Good marriage, lovely home, decent health, and so on. Then I will go into realms where I want more (not material ‘more’, screw that, it gives me nothing) more wisdom, more serenity, more sense of accomplishment,etc. etc. Angela, you have started me thinking, and I’ll now refrain from mounting a philosophical thesis, and take my leave.

  2. Ian ~ I’m so glad to have found you (and have been found by you). You are truly a kindred spirit, and I feel like I could sit and learn quite a bit from you. About 10 years ago, I realized that what I truly want from life is peace, above all else. And truly, these last two years or so have brought quite a bit more than I’ve ever had. They’ve also brought more challenges in terms of personal struggle with things that are beyond my control. In the end, my hope is that I can look back and feel proud of how I dealt with the gutbuckets in my life and not wish that I had done much differently. Grace under pressure. That’s what I’m hoping for. Grace and standing up for my kids.

  3. Sounded pretty authentic to me. I really don’t think you ever stop wishing for your children’s safety. As a mother it is always the top thing on my mind. Today, another blogger asked the question “what song would you leave your children?”
    I thought long and hard and in the end decided on “The lion sleeps tonight” – I chose it because I would want my daughter to know that I am always trying to keep her safe.

    “Finding that balance between what to fight for, what to get a new perspective on and what to let go.”

    I love this line… this is the journey of life.
    Wonderful post!

  4. I love that you can be grateful for things in your life while acknowledging that they are not perfect.
    I know that bereft feeling you get when handing over your kids to their other parent. Wanting to make sure they are safe, loved, and happy, and being powerless to do anything about it while they are away. But knowing the right thing to do is to back off and let the other parent get on with it. Hard stuff.

  5. Ang, you can’t get more honest than this post. I think you’re awesome.

    Buddha never wanted any of his teachings written down. One of the reasons was that he didn’t want anyone taking it as gospel. He always intended it as guidelines … a mere description of the way that HE became self-realized, which is not necessarily true for anyone else.

    Desire is certainly at the root of lots of suffering. But the desire to become desire-less is just another in the bag of desires. Get rid of that one and you’re closer.

    And when you say “Finding that balance between what to fight for, what to get a new perspective on and what to let go”, this tells me so much. Why? Because most of the rest of humanity goes through life sleepwalking, never considering these things. You have gone so much further than nearly everyone already.


  6. Dawn ~ How wonderful to have you here. Thank you so much for coming by. I was afraid that I would lose the link to your blog, so now I’m feeling thrilled to be able to keep the connection. Thank you for all you said. As much as I would never wish the hard parts of this experience on anyone, it helps to know that I’m not alone in it. Thanks again for visiting!

    V. ~ I’d like to say so much more that just “Yes!”, but “Yes!” seems like the most appropriate thing to say. Thank you!

    Dan ~ How I do love your perspective. Funny that I hadn’t thought of that. (See, look at me thinking again, and about so much stuff that makes it worse instead of making it better.) Thank you, my friend. I treasure you.

  7. Hey Ang–
    Even with my sons grown, married and wee ones of their own, I still want the best for them. It never stops when you are truly a parent…

  8. Franny ~ I was afraid you were going to say that. I simply must find a way to squelch this longing. It’s too much, I tell you. xoxoxo

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