by Rebecca Drake
I have a love-hate relationship with Martha Stewart and her magazine.
On the one hand, I really wish I could create a 12-course meal complete with truffle-stuffed turkey and individual cups of home-grown pumpkin flan while wearing a linen dress I sewed myself from flax harvested in my own garden.
On the other hand, I have a life.
Martha and I share one very big thing in common: We’re both perfectionists. Only I’m in recovery.
I didn’t know I was a perfectionist until I had children because as every parent knows the job of kids is to strip you of all illusions about yourself before you die. I also didn’t realize I qualified for this particular delusion because I thought perfectionists were people who were, well, perfect.
I started to get a clue when I was about to have a coronary because I’d dressed up two toddlers in expensive Christmas finery and expected them to hold still for photo number 50 so I could get just the right pose. It solidified after I spent hours making 20 individual, tea-aged treasure maps for my then 5-year-old’s pirate party. And when I couldn’t finish writing a novel because the opening paragraph never, ever sounded just right I suddenly realized that this was a major character flaw.
Can you imagine my disappointment? I mean, here I really thought I was going to be able to be this perfect woman and have these perfect kids and the perfect house and the perfect career and instead I discovered that not only wasn’t this ever going to happen, but that I was going to have to retrain my own brain so it would stop thinking this was really possible.
So now I’m in recovery. I have neither the time nor the money to live like Martha Stewart even though a big part of me still very much wants to. Today I caught myself fantasizing about the built-in-bookshelves I could somehow make in between writing the book due in January, figuring out the next plot, feeding husband and children, marketing, and keeping my house in some semblance of order.
I imagine that there are lots of people out there far more successful with their lives than I am, but my envy is tempered by the knowledge that some of these people are also driving themselves slowly insane.
I replaced Martha’s “It’s a good thing” mantra with “Good enough.” I sit in my messy house, writing my sloppy draft and pause occasionally to throw another hastily assembled load of laundry into the wash.
Some days I might even drop a sock.