I found this birdhouse with a cracked roof in with the "defect" merchandise at Michaels. I bought it because it was really cheap and I figured with some wood filler it would be good as new and a great project for my five-year old. And by my five-year old, I mean me.
And I -- I mean, E-Man -- was really excited to paint this birdhouse. He would have started as soon as he stepped foot in our house if I had let him. But somehow I convinced him (not without a great amount of cajoling) to wait so that we could get the right kind of paint. Not to mention the fact that it was about 9:00 by the time we got home . . .
We went to Lowe's a couple of days later and with the help of a very nice lady in the paint section, we had everything we needed for the project. Now it was really "game on" for the birdhouse but I had to work the next day so painting would have to wait . . . except that E-Man was hatching a plan.
"Mommy, I'm sure I can take it to Mama Jo and Papa's. Papa would love to do it with me."
"But honey, I don't have a paintbrush for you yet. I'm going to have to look around at home for one."
"I'm sure Papa has one I can use . . ." and so on. I think I tried some other stall tactics but in the end I conceded.
"All right, but you need to understand, Papa might not be able to do it today because he has G-Man too."
"Okay Mommy, okay, I understand."
When I got to my in-laws to pick up the boys that evening Papa had indeed been able to facilitate the birdhouse painting. E-Man was so excited to show it to me and I told him it was beautiful. The paint wasn't quite dry so we left the birdhouse and I promised Ethan we would pick it up the next day.
Upon closer inspection I realized the, ahem, unique artistic method with which E-Man had painted the birdhouse. Two sides were teal green and two were off-white. The roof was brown with an off-white chimney painted teal green on the inside. Some parts weren't completely painted. As I looked at it at home, I saw everything I wanted to "fix" about the paint job, everything I felt was wrong.
And then I felt guilty.
It was just about all I could do not to get out a paintbrush and start touching up that birdhouse. It truly took almost every ounce of self-control I possess. But what purpose would that serve? What lesson would E-Man learn? It would break his heart.
I have this overwhelming desire to control and make "perfect" whatever I can. Let me tell you, perfectionism has its benefits, such as attention to detail, but overall I've found it to be more of a curse, a disease to which the cure remains elusive. What I concluded is that the birdhouse is a metaphor for so many things in life.
It is often difficult to look past flaws on the surface to discover the beauty and artistry right before our eyes. Beauty and art come in countless forms and rarely have the same meaning for individuals. And when things are laid bare, when they are vulnerable, sometimes we realize that those flaws really aren't as important as they might have seemed. They can be overlooked, filled in, healed.
It is only when we let go and look at things from a different perspective that their true value can be detected. Try it, you'll be surprised at the result.