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The Gift of Imperfection

Our first post! Welcome to Raising Real Readers. Check out our About page to learn more about what we hope to accomplish with this website. This post is written by Renee, our reading expert and educator extraordinaire, but she has her busy parent hat on in this one, and I think every parent can relate to what she shares (I know I can!) Reading this, I was reminded of how books ground us, bring us closer to others, and teach us valuable life lessons. Enjoy.  -Nicole (Renee’s sister)

In the last 30 days I have sold a house, bought a house, finished my 15th year of teaching, and spent a week with family on our yearly vacation. And while all of these things have brought joy, they’ve also brought interruption. I consider myself to be an 80/20 kind of parent, meaning about 80% of the time, I think we have a decent routine going and I stick to the parameters my husband and I have set. But with all of the chaos that comes with moving, ending the school year, and vacation, it’s been a bit more of a 20/80 household.

Right now my kids are sleeping in a fort. For the 2nd night in a row. I don’t know when the last time my 10 year old son showered. We are out of fruit. And for some reason, I keep obsessing about new rugs and not about sleeping, hygiene, or nutrition.

Three nights ago, my husband and son were packing the last of the items at our old house and my 8-year-old daughter and I found ourselves worn out after some post-vacation yard work at the new house (weeds double in size when they know you are away, right?). We grabbed some water, plopped down on the couch and sighed. She said, “Penderwicks?”

You see, we’d been reading The Penderwicks together for a mother/daughter book club prior to our move. This was back when life was in 80/20 mode, when reading before bed was a nightly ritual.

That one word, with the inflection at the end, “Penderwicks?, was filled with the hope that I wouldn’t tackle another box, unpack a suitcase, or check my email.

On went our pajamas and under our favorite blanket we went. We opened the sequel, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, and away fell all of the chaos of the last month. We were back with “our girls,” the Penderwick sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. We rolled our eyes when Skye lost her temper (again!), smiled at Jane’s latest stress over her writing projects (again!), and Batty’s adventure with Hound (again!). Three chapters later, the two of us were calm, with the that great sleepy/happy/dopey pre-bedtime feel that I love. I let Emily fall asleep on my lap so I could enjoy it a bit longer.

A few years ago, I read Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. The book’s cover promises that it will help you “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.” I loved this book because, in a few areas of my life, I feel the force of perfectionism is strong. I’m thankful for Brene’s book in this chaotic summer of my 40th year.

I’m not going to berate myself for having our normal bedtime reading routine interrupted.

Instead, I’ll choose to remember the gift that my imperfection brought, that 8-year-old voice asking for time with me and her pals, the Penderwick sisters.

Happy Reading,

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