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Why Perfectly Imperfect is Just Right

Why Perfectly Imperfect is Just Right


Four years ago yesterday, we woke up at 5:30 a.m. in a small apartment in Boston. We dressed ourselves, dressed our little girl, took pictures of her huge smile and headed to Boston Children’s Hospital. This was our third time putting Layla underI thought perfection was the goal. I was young and naive. anesthesia, and I guess you could say we were pros. At 6:30, we clothed her in the tiniest hospital gown you can imagine and tried to keep her distracted from thoughts of food and drink until 7, when she was finally wheeled off, a very small person in a much-too-large bed.

Yesterday, about five years ago, my life was pretty much perfect. We were blissful newlyweds, quite besotted with each other and excited, albeit a little clueless, about the fetus growing inside of me. I remember sitting on the couch beside my husband, who I thought was the most perfect man in the universe, and discussing our soon-to-be-born perfect baby.

“I want her to have your lips and my nose,” I remember saying clearly, and we laughed, feeling somewhat smug in the neat little package of life we got to live in.

My life had been smooth, almost idyllic. Occasional fights with best friends and some teenage blues, but really, nothing too traumatic. Great childhood, check. Amazing friends, check. Found the right one, check. Beautiful marriage, check. Pregnant, check.

I don’t want to say I deserved it because I don’t believe G‑d works that way. But with hindsight being oh so terribly clear, when our first child was born with a cleft lip and palate some six months later, my vision of a perfect life was shattered.

What terrified me was my interpretation of the way my child was born. Throughout my pregnancy, we had spoken about the concept of love and how it translated into a physical being. This child would be a direct manifestation of our love. It was such a sweet, perfect sentiment. But now that manifestation was born imperfect. What did that say about us? Where was the perfection I had assumed we had?

It was the start of a long journey. I learned that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and imperfect lives. There is no such thing as perfection because that would mean we have achieved all that we were sent down here to achieve. That would mean no room for growth and change. And what is life without growth and change? What is a marriage without work and challenges and the sweetness of building something as a team? What is a child without lessons to learn and mistakes to be forgotten?

I thought perfection was the goal. I was young and naive. I thought a perfect life was within reach but the truth is, it never is. As we rebuilt Layla’s mouth, nose and palate with several surgeries, I, too, rebuilt my understanding of myself, of life. I learned to accept disappointment. I learned to expect change. I learned to see flaws, in myself and in others, and to choose to live with them while they were being worked on.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk said: “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.” A broken heart means that there has been life, there has been love, there has been passion. There have been lessons learned and memories made. There is what to work with; there are dreams that have been dashed and new dreams to be dreamt of.

It isn’t coincidence to me that each year the “anniversary” of Layla’s lip and nose surgery falls rightA broken heart means that there has been life, love, passion when she starts a new year of school. The day that she gets a fresh start, where she heads into a new year with her friends, where her vibrant personality shines and blossoms. For her, the memories are in her child brain and don’t affect her day-to-day life. She gets to prove to the world, and to us, that her rough patch at the beginning of her life doesn’t have to determine the life she builds for herself.

There is so much she has taught me and so much I am still learning. She makes every single day exciting; she adds vitality to every room she enters. She loves life, she exudes positivity, she finds pleasure in the simple things. And, of course, she has taught me the most valuable lesson: to be realistic about my expectations for life. I have a little sign on my nightstand. It reads: “Life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.” There is so much beauty to be seen. Don’t let the darkness steal it away.

Blumie Abend is a wife and mother currently living in Crown Heights. She has a passion for writing and currently works as a freelance writer.
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Carroll November 15, 2017

Thank you for sharing your journey and perspective. So encouraging. Reply

yochanan Cheltenham England November 9, 2017


HaShem Asks of us Effort He does not Ask for results.

This is how we are reminded that we are just people and that HaShem is Almighty Creator and this is humbling and this is The Way to HaShem.

Shalom Reply

Anonymous Midibar Yehuda November 8, 2017

Oct. 1, 2017 Channa weisberg "Embraced by G-d" Wonderful. "I asked for wonder." It is said that Hashem asks for wonder. New Beginnings offer us all greater opportunities hope and trust. You succeeded in transporting us back to "first grade."
Each day' at "Modeh Ani" time we who "awaken" In wonder joy and faith reaffirm the miracles that fill each moment of our lives.
It is said that miracles literally rolled around the Alter Rebbe's court (even though according to Rabbi Gordon in
shiurim b'Tanya). Even though the Rebbe insisted that we study and grapple with what we are sent in the aspirations of a beinoni.
The work assigned to us asks us not perfection (not to become "perfect" but
to "sweat."- ) exertion in learning to love G-d and serve him in joy and with kaballas 'ol. According to Rabbi Tzvi-
Freeman it's our ratzon-(will) and effort
(In wonder) that propel us to living as
G-d needs. Since Rabbi Mannis Freedman says, "it's really not about us."
It's about what the creator needs we can rejoice in Gd being perfect, in joy. Reply

Julia Adam Zurich November 8, 2017

Thank you for sharing!Exactly the words I need it. Reply

Dorothy Bienen Wellington November 8, 2017

What a beautiful piece....filled with real growth and change! Life has a way of doing that....and we are all so fortunate when we can LEARN it!!!Thank you for teaching us a REAL lesson in I have already taught my 5 precious grandchildren....JUST SMILE!!!! Reply

Amin Wahyudi Semarang, Indonesia November 7, 2017

I have been for years in distressed "because of" my son with special need.
Thanks for sharing
I get more strength Reply

Malka New York November 7, 2017

Perfectly Imperfect I was born with a cleft lip. I was subjected to merciless bullying, teasing, abuse and exclusion. I hope your child is not subjected to this ordeal. The fastest way to see how horrible people can be is to look different. Facial differences bring out the worst in people. You seem like a wonderful parent. Surround your child with love and encouragement. Reply

Blumie November 8, 2017
in response to Malka:

Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry you had to go through that 😕. We do not live in a kind world...Our daughter was treated in Boston and bh looks really wonderful. People do not actually realize she had a cleft unless I tell them so I am grateful for that. She does have a bump on her lip that will need further surgeries but I hope she will always be as confident and positive as she is now. Reply

DRB Wellington November 8, 2017
in response to Malka:

Beautiful and very important advice...I am so sorry for your ordeal....but see it probably made you a stronger more compassionate person! Reply

Nkechinyeremjideka Eriobu November 7, 2017

Shalom Aleichem dear Blumbie. Beautiful and inspiring words from a loving heart. Reply

Chana P. Ontario November 6, 2017

Thank you for sharing this powerful and important message.
Your words - beautifully spoken from a loving heart - will surely inspire untold numbers.
May Hashem grant you continued nachas from your precious family and may you go from strength to strength, continuing to shine your gorgeous light! Reply

Rachel November 6, 2017

Beautiful Blumie!
Thanks for sharing! Reply

Yochanan Cheltenham England November 5, 2017


these are lovely words.

So what is perfection.

Lets see a beautiful puppy dog, it absolutely perfect i.e adorable, yet if you measure its feet, its ears etc nothing is perfectly the same, they are all different.

Yet, if you make anything i.e a table it needs to be the same in its measurements. So this theory would apply to maybe other things.

But the perfection is not in the precise perfect manufacture of such a thing, its what makes it adorable.

What is that, only HaShem really knows all we do is react to it and this can be to whatever is adorable especially your own children no matter how they are.

We see in our children the complete person, we don't need to measure his or her feet etc, we see the reality that is Love.

If I have a problem with being perfect, I always ask myself, who am I trying to please.

Shalom Reply

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