Catching Them When They’re Perfect

Last week was that one week out of the year when the Yoshino cherry trees bloom. It’s like one day they’re just bare and wintery trees and the next day they wake up as pale pink clouds skimming the earth.

The blooms don’t last long. A stiff wind will take them down, or a heavy spring rain. Even if the weather cooperates, the blooms don’t hang around–they are soon pushed aside by the green leaves that will keep the tree fed for the rest of the year. As Big Gay explained it, “The blossoms are there to set the seed pods.” There’s work to be done, the work of keeping that tree going year after year.

There’s a flurry of Yoshinos at the bank in my neighborhood. I drove under them one morning after cashing a check and felt compelled to stop the car. I swerved over to the curb then opened the sunroof. I turned my face straight up and felt their pink softness smile upon me. It was so beautiful that I took out my phone to capture the perfection…but the camera refused to work (because I have about 5000 pictures on there that really should be organized somewhere).

I promised myself that I would come back and get that picture.

But the next few days were gray and gross. Then I got bogged down and started to crack up. Every day last week, I came home with another piece of bad news about how my kid was behaving and I curled up in a ball on the bed. One morning, I did manage to pull into the bank with a camera that was cooperating, but the sky was a flat gray nothing that sapped the color from the cherry blossoms:


Wednesday, Carlos gets sent home from daycare. Thursday, we have Vivi’s teacher conference and she’s being….a brilliant challenge. Thursday, Carlos comes home with a sternly worded note. Friday, he gets sent home from school AGAIN. Luckily, G got the call because I didn’t have my phone with me at lunchtime. But I was dragging pretty low by the time I finally got to leave work at 5:30 and get Vivi.

“Mama! I was on blue today!” That’s the best color on the stick–and it erases one of those reds that she had the day before. We stepped out of her school and headed towards the car…which happened to be parked right across from a small Yoshino cherry tree. And what do you know–the sky was blue, my camera was working, the blossoms were tossing around in the breeze.

I finally had a chance to catch perfection.

I asked Vivi to pose in front of the tree, but all she wanted to do was show off a penguin finger puppet. Again, my rambunctiously creative daughter was messing up my idea of perfection. And there was a limb bumping right where I needed her head to be…


That’s when it hit me. Just like the cherry blossoms, my time with my kids is passing quickly. These years are the tender pink blossoms that will be pushed aside by the green growing leaves soon enough. There will be days when the sky is gray or the stick is on red or the boy gets kicked out of school. I can’t sit around waiting to catch them being perfect. They’re beautiful messes, just like the rest of us, and that is a miracle in itself.


8 thoughts on “Catching Them When They’re Perfect

  1. Sara Amis

    Have I told you the story of how my son tried to incite revolution in the fourth grade? Or…any of the other tales of him being hell on wheels as a child, of which there are many.

    Now he is grown, and is unfailingly sweet, calm, polite, and helpful. It all turned out just fine.


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