Perfect Imperfection: The Expansion Joint Analogy

A few weeks ago I spent time at grandma’s place in Kikuyu. I’d missed this gracious lady, and what better way to deal with that than to spend time with her and her great grandson (It is an amazing blessing to have four generations). See, I am a firm believer of spending time with the people that matter and letting them know how much they mean to me. Cucu is an amazing woman, and in her sunset years, she cherishes nothing more than spending time with her children and their children, and in my case, her first great grandson. That was an amazing weekend, and my son had fun.

It is in the fresh air breeze that sweeps across the lush landscape. It is in the panoramic views of the hills yonder where the sun’s golden rays kiss the peaks at sunset. It is in the verdant green of the farms. It is in the crowing of the roosters in the AM, and the mooing of cows at milking time. All these, away from the frenetic pace of life I am accustomed to: blaring Rongai matatus, dust-filled paths, bustling malls and the cacophony of everyday noise.

In the serenity that cucu’s home is, lying on the grass, staring at the blue skies, all I could hear in the distance was the whistling of the train. This took me back many years when I sat in that stifling hot Physics laboratory, dozing off to Mr. Wachira’s lisp-filled lessons on the difference between DC and AC, and how to connect the simple cell circuit. We should just have skipped to the part where we could jump-start manual cars because that’s what is relevant now…

Moving on swiftly, the little theory I remember from one of my Physics classes was the use of expansion joints. That is what the whistling of the train brought to mind. Now, if you have no idea what expansion joints are, these are spaces left between railway tracks during construction. Just as the name suggests, these joints are built to facilitate expansion as the temperatures fluctuate during the day. This retains the integrity of the railway tracks and ensures the tracks do not get warped, something which would undoubtedly cause accidents.

This got me thinking about my take on life, my love for structure and the place of expansion joints. I realized, for the most part during and after my Postpartum Depression (PPD), I was stuck in ‘perfect mom’ where the absence of this perfection paved the way for ‘failure’. This simply meant there was no room for trying new things, no room for been myself – free to know that it was ok to fail- and absolutely no way to get up from the imperfections.

The one thing that the lack of personal expansion joints led to was constantly beating on myself for not been the perfect mom. I was crippled by my PPD, because things were either fixed or not. I was either a good mom or a bad one. I was either having a perfect day, or it was downright crappy. I either had all the answers or was totally disoriented and lacked zeal. This self-pressure I put on myself always made me fall short because, let’s face it, perfection is a pipe dream. You cannot simply have all the answers to all of life’s seasons.

Through healing after PPD, I am learning that I need not live in this rigidity of either ‘perfect’ or ‘imperfect’. I am learning to accept that I need not have all of the answers to life’s question, and that is okay. I need not use the superficial stuff as a yardstick for my value as a person and mom. My value as a person transcends the structural perfection I have created in my mind.

My value revolves around living my life’s purpose, the lives I get to touch, the people I get to be a blessing to, and ultimately the kind of legacy I leave behind for my kid(s). My value has little to do with perfection, and everything to do with growth. It has little to do with having life figured out, and everything to do with learning through every single experience and relationship. My value has nothing to do with life’s plans cast on stone and fitted into a little box with bows, and everything to do with living life to the maximum.

Here is to expansion joints that allow me to experience life more zealously. Here is to embracing more personal expansion joints that allow for growth and failure, expansion joints that allow me to learn from my past PPD experiences and forge forward with unbridled energy. Certainly, more expansion joints to embrace perfect imperfection.


Credits: Blackmerg Studios

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  1. Jeez. That Physics teacher must have had quite the lisp if you still remember the name. I can’t even remember who my favourite teacher was. Smh. Good read, as always 😊

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