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Irons in the fire: Sometimes she swears

Paul Marchant for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 December 2020

As I was dutifully scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, I came across a post from my daughter honoring her mother. It was kind of a long post, and there was no flashy picture accompanying it. Those are two factors that would normally dissuade me from taking the time to read a social media post. However, since it was family, I had to at least take a look, right?

It was a thoughtfully constructed and well-written commentary – something sorely lacking in much of what can be had on most social media platforms these days. As you might expect, my daughter presented a lovely tribute to my wife as she made mention of her mother’s completely unselfish, kind and gentle nature. It was a touching ode from a daughter to a mother, made especially poignant by the fact that this particular daughter was known, in her pre-adult days, to have frequently butted heads with her parents. And, truth be told, she may have even enjoyed it on occasion. I’m sure she’s not the first teenager who figured out how to effectively and often push her parents’ buttons.

As you might expect, I was touched by not only my daughter’s thoughts and words but by the reactions and comments of friends and family members who read the post. My wife, who proctors no social media accounts and rigorously shuns the spotlight, may fittingly not even be made aware of our daughter’s tribute until she proofreads this very column for me.

In spite of the complimentary commentary included in the majority of the Facebook post, perhaps the most compelling part of her thoughts was how my daughter closed her remarks in what might be falsely construed as a touch of negativity. She wrote:

“In order to avoid the pressure social media sometimes places on us to live up to what we perceive as perfection in others, I feel the need to say that my mom is not perfect. Sometimes [as we were] growing up, she would become impatient, and sometimes our house was a mess, and sometimes she swears. I say this because my mom is a wonderful example of a person who tries to serve the Lord, despite her imperfections. Today I am very thankful for her example.”

In all fairness to the matriarch of our household, I am well aware – and you, as a reader, should also be made aware – that I personally am most likely the root cause of a good share of the messes and probably all of the swearing. Nevertheless, I believe my daughter made a powerfully profound point. That point is this: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

Now, that is certainly not an endorsement to seek and accept failure. As a matter of fact, I believe in exactly the opposite. I think you’re much better served if you seek perfection in whatever you do. Honestly, that’s really a pretty difficult, if not impossible, standard to aim for. Obviously, if you expect perfection, the only guarantee you have in that quest is failure. The real and most valuable goal is figuring out how to be gratified by the results of your efforts while still maintaining the effort to seek perfection. You know the old adage of getting up whenever you get knocked down. I hate clichés, but if ever there was one by which to live, I think that’s the one.

It’s easy to equate this quaint idea to the sports world; it’s another thing to apply it to everyday real life. Take it from a mediocre assistant coach of a perfectly imperfect small town high school girls’ basketball team. It’s easier to set a good screen the next trip down the court than it is to recover from pandemic-induced economic panic or even the hurt caused by cruel or unkind words uttered at your kid in the heat of an ill-advised argument. But the principle is and always will be the same. Sometimes good enough is good enough. And I’ve come to understand from people like my children’s mother that doing good and trying to do good is as close to perfect as you can get.

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter, or email Paul Marchant.

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