Whole Parenting Family

On giving imperfect gifts

I pealed back the adhesive on the box. Let out a big sigh. Stuck it shut. Set it out for the post. Let the glass screen hit my heel on the way in. Scooped up my toddling baby and headed back into the fray that is the kitchen stocked with small children.

The fudge I mailed my friend had no note inside. I haven’t even emailed him to tell him it was from me. I hope he reads the return label. I hope the squirrels didn’t eat it on his front step, gnawing their way into the smooth chocolatey goodness. It was my overdue thank you for his kindness, his time.

In my ideal world, I had it all planned. I would enclose a Mass card. A handwritten note. Even gift wrapped the treat.

In my real world, it sat in my freezer for two months too long and barely made it out the door.

Are you also finding this to be a season of imperfect gift giving?

The first night we had Blessed Conversations at my house, we had moved in that day. Sheet rock dust was everywhere and the furniture in temporary places. No felt pads under any chairs. Not lights covering the swinging bulbs from the ceiling. Each subsequent meeting, the ladies see the house a little more done. This weekend when they come, they’ll see it so close to finished. But if I had waited for the right time to host, I would still be waiting.

In my ideal world, the gifts for niece and nephews are labeled already and marked, wrapped in fun paper, placed in boxes to be mailed.

In my real world, the wrapping paper is coming via amazon prime soonish and I think I have gifts for everyone. There may be some last minute sewing.

I gripped the steering wheel hard today, dropping both boys at my sister’s house for some fun, driving around with just the baby, wet diapered, awakened too early from her nap for school time pickup, awash with frustration. My house is strewn with toys, styrofoam chunks (don’t let the baby put that in her mouth!! I shout regularly), my sewing orders almost all out the door, my laundry almost folded, my sleep so blurred.

Feeling helpless makes me want to stop giving. Stop giving of myself. Turn off and dry up. If it’s not perfect or ordered, I want to turn away from it.

A dear friend loses her son at 20 weeks in utero. Another still aches for her twins. Two more lost their babies early on in pregnancy, one sharing here. I want all the babies alive and back. I want these sisters to experience the gift of the baby, the perfect gift, the gift in their arms, healthy and spluttering.

Imperfect gifts and imperfect giving can’t stop us, shouldn’t stop us, from giving the gift of ourselves. The effort means everything.

Keep showing up, sisters. Keep showing up with yourself, you, the imperfect wonder that you are. The world needs us, as messy and sad and lacking in hand written notes as we are.  I believe in your value, your contributions. Let’s appreciate each other’s imperfect gifts, and our own.



  1. Katheryn on December 11, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Love you, mama! ❤️

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      Love right back.

  2. Erica Saint on December 12, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Love, love, love!

  3. Jocelyn on December 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you! I was discussing this with my husband last night and feeling like a horrible person for having these feelings. Thank you for giving validation to those feelings while also reminding me that it’s worth more to ignore them and continue on the road, as imperfect as it may be.

  4. Brittney on December 14, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    What a wonderful reminder Nell. I’ve felt so overwhelmed this season too (3 kids under 5 and we also lost our twins this May). I love what you say about showing up. That’s what my plan for the next 10 days is, keep trying, done (with love!) is better than perfect!

  5. Martha on January 15, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you, Nell. Really feeling this these days with now 3 under 4… This is the reality we need to share. There is nothing perfect about us, about our parenting, our families; but it is real, and we can be a testament to how faith works in reality! Thank God for community, whether in person or online 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on February 18, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Amen, sister!