Perfection is Not the Goal!

“We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.”
Martin Buber

I have a tendency to mull over past mistakes. I am even more likely to do that when I have made mistakes that hurt my children in some way. There are times I still cringe when I think of ways I treated them during their childhood and teenage years.

It is true that I, like most parents, did the best I could even though I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do a perfect job of parenting. And like most parents, I was often too tired and worn down to always do the right thing. I have no doubt that I was a “good enough parent” but when I am “in my stuff” I expect myself to have been perfect.

For me, redemption comes when I see how they are in the world as adults. Sreejit is 40 years old and has lived in Amma’s California or India ashram since he was 19. He is committed to his spiritual path and to serving the world by supporting Amma’s charitable projects. He does this by being one of the main cooks for the Western Canteen in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. In addition, he is a gifted musician, author, song writer, blogger and poet.

Chaitanya is 37 years old and has lived in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram since her 21st birthday. She too is avidly committed to her spiritual path and to supporting Amma in any way possible. She is a born leader, responsible for managing Amritapuri’s Western Canteen and Café. In addition, she is a gifted writer, director and choreographer of Broadway style musicals.  When people need support, they often seek her out.

Both of them are loved and respected by all who know them; and they are wise beyond their years. I have had numerous people tell me “If you ever question that you have done things right (in life), all you need to do is take a look at your kids.”

Both Chaitanya and Sreejit have told me how valuable it was for them to have had the life experiences they had as they were growing up. I regularly see them using knowledge, skills, and attitudes that have their roots in things they learned from their dad and me. They took those teachings and then developed them as they became the people they are today.

As Buber said, “We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.” When mistakes I made in the past come to mind, I need to remind myself to look at the bigger picture. My children learned from any mistakes I made and are better people because of them. My being perfect would not have even been in their best interest. I only need to look at the “fruit of my actions” to know I was a good parent!


Written for Dungeon Prompts: Redemption Song

35 thoughts on “Perfection is Not the Goal!

  1. I like that picture of you and Chaitanya with the backpacks. I don’t remember seeing that one before… I wouldn’t change anything as far as our childhood… afterwards, my own mistakes are always debatable in my head, but childhood was good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me of how I sometimes feel that I let my three sons down. It’s not easy to see that they grew into the men they are because of the obstacles they struggled with. And my struggles did the same for me. My youngest son and I call this the “Perfection of Imperfection”.

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  3. What a great post, Karuna! I think most parents wonder if they did enough, and feel sad about their mistakes but I like what you say about making mistakes actually helps them more. You are so right! My children often complained how hard it was to be on their own because I made life too easy for them at home. My daughter is more strict than I was and my grandson helps out with the chores since he was quite young. I love looking at those photos and I still cannot get over that photo in India with the backpack I first saw in your book…you look like a teenager!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. For many years people remarked that I had dropped years after coming home from a summer tour or time in India. It all caught up with me the last two or three years though! Now sometimes I feel older than my age.

        I was still being carded at 45 though. That was fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You are right through and through, karuna. While you still look like an American, your son and daughter look as if they are straight out of the street from Kerala. There is nothing like perfection in our earthly existence, even the most evolved beings here have flaws if passed through a scanner. So all that is possible is to try and realize our highest attainable potential, and leave the rest to cosmos. I have two sons, I am very happy with my wife of thirty three years (not her age, but that’s how old our marriage is). Both my sons have grown up well, the elder one is a mechanical engineer, married to a doctor, and both are settled in Johannesburg, presently in the euphoria of a new addition to family in the form of a baby boy. The other younger son is a marine engineer, and he is presently on the far east run on board the ship. Both of them are better than me in many attributes, so I take it as a sign of reasonably successful parenting. The future from here is not ours to see, que sera sera, as the song goes…best wishes..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, people have thought they were Indian long before they moved to India. And my daughter has been mistaken as a Keralan (if that is a word) even by Indians in Kerala!

      Thanks for telling me more about your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Coming over from The Sunday Wrap and I can identify with this. I think it is a natural thing for parents to look back and think “if only” but when it all shakes out we all have made choices and raised our children hopefully to the best of our ability. I am proud of the young men that both of our boys have grown into and hope that we gave them tools that would carry them through. We raised them hoping that they would be able to make good choices and draw on their rearing to enable them to live full and complete lives and find happiness. While not all of their choices would be “my” choices they are living their lives fully and that makes me happy. Your children are beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting from Sunday Wrap!

      I agree that that is our job….. to give them the tools and know that it is important for them to make their own choices and live the life they create, being there for help if they ask! I’m glad your children are living their lives fully……

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  6. A lovely post and testament both to your parenting and your children Karuna. As Rajagopal says, none of us are perfect, although I rather warm to the Japanese idea of the perfection of imperfection.

    “And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the humanity.”

    ― Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

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