Almost Perfect… works for me!

Poetry By Shel Silverstein

“Almost perfect… but not quite.”
Those were the words of Mary Hume
At her seventh birthday party,
Looking ’round the ribboned room.
“This tablecloth is pink not white–
Almost perfect… but not quite.”

“Almost perfect… but not quite.”
Those were the words of grown-up Mary
Talking about her handsome beau,
The one she wasn’t gonna marry.
“Squeezes me a bit too tight–
Almost perfect… but not quite.”

“Almost perfect… but not quite.”
Those were the words of ol’ Miss Hume
Teaching in the seventh grade,
Grading papers in the gloom
Late at night up in her room.
“They never cross their t’s just right–
Almost perfect… but not quite.”

Ninety-eight the day she died
Complainin’ ’bout the spotless floor.
People shook their heads and sighed,
“Guess that she’ll like heaven more.”
Up went her soul on feathered wings,
Out the door, up out of sight.
Another voice from heaven came–
“Almost perfect… but not quite.”

When you are a teacher you will sometimes find the craziest things echoing through your subconscious.  Today, over and over I kept hearing the line, “Almost perfect… but not quite.”  It wasn’t until a few minutes ago that an internet search led me to the poem above.  A fan of Shel Silverstein for years – undoubtedly this is the message my “inner self” was trying to get across all day.

We woke up late this morning.  Later than I wanted to.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I actually WANT to sleep VERY late, most of the time.  However, the reality was that there were things to do, bills to pay, places to go and people to see.

So, I was a bit disgruntled early this morning.  I struggle with this feeling most weekends.  I want to badly to use my time wisely.  I want to stop and smell the roses, but I battle with the consequences which leave me buried behind paperwork for home and school, bills to sort, letters to write, and laundry to do.

I am too often a bit like Mary Hume in the poem above.

No One is perfect, that why pencils have erasers.

I expect perfection, primarily of myself.  I am always, and have always been, my own worst critic.

Why isn’t the house clean? Why aren’t all the bills paid?  Why can’t I manage the money better?  Why can’t I find time for fun?  Why can’t I figure out an exercise schedule?  Why can’t I get organized?  Why does it take me so long to follow up on things?  How come I can’t manage to keep up?  Why don’t I see my family and friends more often?  Why doesn’t Meghan feel well?  Could I have gotten her to a better doctor?  Are there better answers? WHY? 

You can insert all sorts of things there, but my guess is that I am not alone.  Although I kind of hope I am, because I am actively working to get out of that place.  Its not healthy at all.

Because, really?  Does it matter?


Don’t get me wrong.  I am not at all suggesting that we just toss it all to the side and let everything go, but is the fact that I am one set of sheets behind because we went apple picking yesterday really the end of the world?  I think not.  In fact, I am sure the memories we made will stay with us far longer than (the horror) having to change the sheets on a Monday… or dust on a Wednesday… or just clean the floor, fan, window, when it’s dirty.

We got a roof 2 weeks ago.  My screens are the dirtiest they have ever been.  They will get washed.

It’s October 6th,  I changed the calendar today.  The world didn’t end because I missed the 1st.

I like order.  I like neatness.  And truth be told, with the medical battles, quests, and journeys I can not afford NOT to be organized.  But, I am learning, or trying to learn not to obsess.

See everything changes on a moment’s notice.  There are no guarantees.  In our lives, where Cowden’s Syndrome is the proverbial Elephant in the Room at all times, this is especially apparent.  But maybe in some way we have a bit of an advantage.


I plan ahead as best I can.  I organize my files, my lesson plans, and my doctors appointments.  I do all of this with the understanding that one day I may have to stop it all and address a health issue.  So, when I can I spend a few extra moments being organized.

But, because we know all too well how fast things can change I am learning to stop.  I am learning that its ok to make a rubber band bracelet some days, or to pick some pumpkins, or to watch the swim practice and marvel at the health that allows it to take place instead of burying myself in more work.

It’s not just our lives that can spin out of control.  We just have notice that its “likely” to happen.  I feel for the MANY, and I mean WAY TOO MANY people I know whose lives are spinning wildly as they try to gather themselves.

What do you do?

You have to get up and get moving and get about each day as best you can.  You have to maintain some semblance of order.  You have to pause.

In that quest for perfection we can lose ourselves all too quickly.  We can miss it as it flies by.

Tonight I worked on the checkbook.  I say “worked on.”  I used to say “balanced,”  but that would just be a lie.  Yes, I am a math teacher.  No, my checkbook is no longer to the penny.  I just won’t sacrifice the extra hours.  But its close enough that I haven’t bounced a check in 20 years.

Almost perfect… works for me.

There are way more important things that need my time.


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