Of Perfection and Failure

A while back, I received a lovely email from a reader telling me how much she enjoyed reading the blog. Not condescending in any manner, she told me that whenever she read a post, she thought about what a perfect life I had. 

A husband lucky enough to have a different meal on the table at least every couple of days. A sweet note to follow every meal. Model children who ate and polished everything on their plates including foods in brights shades of green. Could I give her tips?

She imagined my house to be decorated in crisp shades of whites and beiges, not a toy out of place. Not a stain in sight, not a dish dirty. A picture perfect family, a perfect life. Perfect. As happy as I was to receive an email from an avid reader telling me she enjoyed reading the blog, the email left me feeling apprehensive and scared. Apprehensive that I would fail to live up to every reader’s expectations. Scared of failure. 

Scared to think that anyone can think I am perfect. One who is perfect never fails right? The pendulum between these two emotions, of perfection and failure, is one that I face everyday. Every moment. Not just as a blogger, a recipe developer and as a photographer but also as a mother and wife. 

Yes I do have a perfect family. A wonderfully supportive husband and two healthy spritely children. To me, that is the most perfect life ever. The two most important things. Ever. And I’m grateful. Very. However, life is far from perfect. 

If you walk into my home on any given day, chances are the door may not open. You see, Hassan has a habit of cramming his toys behind the front door. Oh yes, you’ll have to use the kitchen entrance. Which means you’ll be greeted by a pile of dirty plates in the sink. Anyone with toddlers knows, there are ALWAYS dirty dishes in the sink. Not because my children eat wonderfully healthy foods at every given moment in the day. 

Oh no. It’s because as a mother, you are always trying. Trying to get your children to eat three meals. Trying to get them to eat healthy. Trying to give them a varied diet. Trying to get them to just try.  Trying to get them to finish. Trying……yes it’s a trying job. 

And that’s one of the reasons why you may see shades of beige on my wall. Where food may have been flung in one of those trying episodes. Ouch…..what’s that I hear! Oh sorry, you probably stepped on a sharp piece of lego. Yes, those deadly beasts are scattered everywhere. 

Amongst this clutter, I test new recipes. Recipes that are often rejected by my family. Sometimes they are too bland. Sometimes they have mint in them (Maryam has developed a recent aversion to mint). Sometimes there aren’t enough peas inside. Often I am told by a picky 4 year old, ‘It’s just not yummy enough.’ 

A few are though. When they ask for seconds, you know you have a winner. Then you sit down and photograph. It’s at this moment where that feeling of failure hits its peak, but also the desire to be perfect. Every image always has something wrong. A herb out of place, a burnt edge showing. Perhaps the image is not sharp enough, the color scheme not right. The shadows too harsh. The image looks flat. is it overexposed? It doesn’t convey the right mood. Should I just scrap this?

Let’s just say it never is perfect. The perfect blog post, the perfect meal, the perfect recipe, that perfect image, the words or story that sounds just perfect. Maybe that’s why I tend to blog in my head more then on screen. In my mind I can imagine that beautiful lit image with just the right amount of shadows. A compelling story to accompany that elusively perfect recipe. Oh of course, just the right props. Imagination is such a wonderful thing right.

However, there would be no blog if that moment of perfection is coveted. Perfect is not always possible. And that shouldn’t be our aim. If you are honest, you will find in that perfection. Just like this rhubarb curd I made. It was the perfect curd. Velvety smooth, just the right hint of tartness.  Then I made it again. The rhubarb wasn’t red enough and so the curd of a ghastly shade of orange brown. Hardly appetising. Not to mention the bits of scrambled egg in it. 

Total failure. But that’s OK. If you succeed each time, you will stop trying. And if you stopped trying, you would stop creating. 

Does the idea of perfection and failure scare you too?

*On another note, I’m off to Marrakech tomorrow with a few days in Essaouira. Any places I must not miss? You can also follow my travels on Instagram. 

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