Well, I do sometimes wonder if I’m approaching the madness of Lady Macbeth when it comes to cleaning my house, or in fact, trying to fix everything that is imperfect in my life. The words came to me as I was trying yet again to clean the carpet, where my daughter had spectacularly vomited last weekend. Every cleaner we had in the house, and the only one I could find in the shops (yes, I tried several) was applied to the mark, which hopefully will disappear after yesterday’s final attempt. I’m watching and waiting.
Then there was the aptly named ‘Oven Pride’ incident yesterday. Scanning the shelves for carpet shampoo, I came across this highly corrosive cleaner. Of course, the oven had been bothering me since we moved in with its blotches and greasiness, so now was as good a time as any. Even though the back of my mind was saying, ‘Calm down’, I still launched into it with the result that I stained at least three parts of the counter-top in the kitchen, marks that are almost impossible to undo.
All this ridiculous behaviour got me to thinking. How much of my life, and the lives of those around me do I try and push to some kind of false perfection? And who am I doing it for? My son has a scar on his face from a hyperactive encounter with his sister. I frequently look at it and wonder why I haven’t been putting Bio-Oil on it to help it fade. My daughter has a terrible habit of taking tiny nibbles out of her biscuits, spilling crumbs all over herself, but I’ve got tired of telling her not to. That’s the thing, correcting flaws can wear you down, and the person you are criticising. Possibly learning to live with imperfection is the key.
I remember talking to a student I was tutoring. She suffered from cerebral palsy but when I told her about my own health problems and my struggle to walk gracefully, she just said, ‘it makes us interesting’.
So my wee boy has a scar that he can use for leverage against his sister, my little girl knows how to savour biscuits, and my stained carpet and worktops remind me not to take too much pride in my home. Everyone struggles with flaws, some self-inflicted, some not, but these marks on who we are often make us who we are. We mustn’t forget that Someone loves us despite the things we wish we were not, the faults we try to cover up.
*Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1