“Wabi-sabi, wabi-sabi,” I chanted to myself as I stepped into the shower. It had been three days since I had been able to bathe, and the water wasn’t hot enough to cleanse me of the build-up of germs and grime. I tried turning the faucet so the temperature would rise, but apparently it was as hot as it would get that morning.
It was sometime around five, an hour, pre-motherhood, I used to consider the middle of the night. I chided myself for the jealousy I harbored for my still-sleeping husband. Once again, I spoke aloud the words “wabi-sabi.” Reminding myself of the Japanese art form that embraces imperfection helped me relax amidst the streaky bathroom mirror and the toothpaste gobs left in the sink. I tried ignoring the dirty clothes on the floor, some of them, shamefully, were left there from the weekend. Even more appalling, some of them belonged to me.
I sighed deeply. Optimistic by nature, it was unusual for me to feel this defeated before sunrise. I tried remembering all the great mommy blogs I had read recently. They were writings that focused on clever quips similar to, “Please excuse the mess. We are busy making memories.” I negotiated with myself that no judgment would fall if my house was not perfect. I am, after all, a mother of two young children, and a babysitter of eight regulars. As if tending to ten children wasn’t enough, I am responsible for encouraging my husband, supporting my friends, serving my church, and reaching out to my community. Did I mention I’m also trying to lose one hundred pounds and launch a writing career? To-do lists ran through my mind and my heart’s rhythm picked up pace.
“Wabi-sabi.” I found it necessary to speak the phrase out loud. My panicked thoughts were taking over my mind, so with that soothing verbal reminder, images of the famous Japanese artwork, asymmetrical gardens and cracked pottery popped into my head. What had my life become? Was I so overwhelmed, overscheduled, and exhausted that I was now counting on cracked pots to offer me solace?
All at once, I burst into teary laughter. The not-hot-enough water filled up my mouth. I swished the water around for a second, and when I spit it out, I sent my bad attitude with it. Against all odds, I would make it through this day. I would step over toys, scrape toothpaste off the sink with the nail of my pointer finger, maybe even do a load of laundry. Armed with the hope of wabi-sabi, I would remember this crazy life, even with its many imperfections, truly is beautiful.