There is a picture of a piece of burnt toast on my Facebook wall. It’s quite ugly. It’s the kind of toast that if it popped out of the toaster, I would try to scrape off all the black bits, probably making a mess over the countertop and in the kitchen sink in the process. And if the charred stuff never came off, I’d begrudgingly (because I don’t like to waste food) throw that toast in the garbage and make myself a new piece.
That’s how burnt this piece of toast is.
But it’s not my piece of toast or my picture. In my aimless scrolling of Facebook last night after I had put all the kids to bed and tidied up the kitchen, the picture of the burnt toast popped up in my newsfeed. I couldn’t miss it because it stood out like a sore thumb from all the other posts. I wondered why this particular post popped up in my newsfeed. It could have something to do with Facebook’s algorithms in knowing what I tend to read and share.
Or perhaps, it was a sign?
You see, there was a story accompanying the burnt toast picture, and it was about a wife who served her husband a plate of eggs, salad, and burnt toast for dinner. Instead of complaining about the burnt toast, the husband ate it with a smile without making any mention of it.
The wife apologized to her husband but the husband waved it off telling her he loved burnt toast.
Later that night, their son asked the father if he really liked burnt toast. The father replied, “Your mother has had a difficult day and she is really tired. She went out of her way to prepare this meal for us, why blame her and hurt her. Burnt toast never hurt anyone, but words can be very painful.”
Is it a coincidence that I saw this post and read these words just after we had had a discussion on the same topic a few hours before? Perhaps it was the universe trying to get through to me, to send me a message, to remind me of something I don’t do often enough . . .
To appreciate what you do even when it’s less than perfect, even when it doesn’t meet my standards.
Because I often forget to do that. I don’t see what you are doing. Instead, I focus on what you are not doing, or more specifically, what you are doing wrong. The areas where you could use some improvement. Like when the dishes are piled high in the kitchen sink, threatening to topple over. The mounting pile of renovations in our house. Your less-than-stellar response to my oh-so-exciting news. The flowers you forgot to get on my birthday one year.
I could go on.
And in doing so, I gloss over all the things you are doing right.
All the times you empty the dishwasher because you know I dread unloading it. The times you cook dinner for everyone while I enjoy a glass of wine and scroll on my phone. When you make two trips to the gas station and fill up both our cars so my tank doesn’t run empty and when you give me the last piece of chocolate even though you wanted it too.
I could go on.
But that’s the inherent struggle of being married to a perfectionist. Not only do we expect ourselves to be perfect, but we also expect perfection from others. And of course, everything is measured according to our standard of perfection which can be elusive to us sometimes too. Why? Because there is no such thing as perfection. Every perfectionist knows this, yet, we keep trying to strive for something akin to that—always just missing the mark.
It’s extremely frustrating, I know.
I realize I tend to do this more often than I care to admit. And although I’ve become more mindful of it over the years, it still creeps in every now and then.
This is why I’ve decided that although I don’t like looking at the picture of the burnt toast on my Facebook wall, I’m not going to delete it. Because it serves as a reminder to me that the best thing I can do for our marriage is to learn how to appreciate what you do for me even if it’s not perfect. And the best thing you can do for our marriage is to learn how to appreciate what I do for you even if it’s not perfect. Because there is no such thing as perfection.
And also, dear husband, because you and I both know that at the end of the day, burnt toast never really hurt anyone.