When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

My best simply isn’t good enough anymore.

No, no. It really isn’t. I’m not fishing for compliments, or advice, or sympathy. I’m just stating the facts, ma’am.

I say the following phrase with increasing frequency: “I’m doing the best I can!” This is usually in response to questions like:

“Why are there no clean towels?”

“Why do I have to borrow Dad’s socks again?”

“What am I supposed to eat? There’s no food in the house!”

And then there are the questions I ask myself:

“Why haven’t I had quiet time today?”

“Why does everything seem so grungy and chaotic?”

“Why am I so snappy with my family when I have so darn much?”

“Why are we eating chicken apple sausage and noodles AGAIN?”

Lately I’ve felt a big, ugly thing inside of me. I don’t have to be a psych major to know what it is: It’s discontent because nothing is how I want it to be.

Common refrains:

“Honey, PLEASE take the kids out today so I can get something done.”

“Honey, PLEASE take Rachel to the Splash Park so I can have a bit of silence and maybe get a shower.”

“Honey, PLEASE help Collin so I can type up this declaration.”

So, even though I’m “doing the best I can,” that “best” seldom seems to include “doing it all,” or hanging out with my kids, who I very much wanted and am so glad to have.

Trust me: this has nothing to do with having a smaller to-do list. I am not trying to scrapbook and reorganize closets and Shop Vac the garage. This is Survival 101. Such as having NO TOWELS, not even dish towels, the other day, so we all had to drip dry after showering. Such as having canned soup and a green lemon from our lemon tree as the only foods in the house. Such as my husband borrowing my underwear because all of his are in the wash (I made that last one up, but not by much). Such as having to store my “active” files on the kitchen counter, right by the CDs of singing vegetables and the “Home Menus and Shopping Lists” binder I haven’t touched in eight months, so I can glance over them while boiling noodles.

Rachel often says things like, “I want Daddy to take me somewhere!” And, ugly upon ugly, I think, “Wait! I’M the MOMMA. Why don’t you want me???” And of course, the answer is because I constantly beg Andy to take the kids and go — somewhere, anywhere — so basic essentials (you know, like food and undies) can magically appear in the house. It’s because Rachel’s daddy is a very good daddy, and she should want to be with him just as much as she wants to be with me.

And frankly, I think this sucks.

I would really like to be Supermom. I would dearly love to Shop Vac the garage and paste cute things onto acid-free paper. But, it just isn’t happening. And so I mutter bad things to myself about how I used to do it all, and how I’ve lost control of the house, and how I’ll never have clean area rugs again. And I get angry that my best isn’t good enough to be 110% perfect, and then I get angry that I don’t extend to myself the same forgiveness I advise other moms to feel in their own hectic lives.

I know all the tips, tricks, and gimmicks to cut time, save time, eat healthy, work out, get ‘er done. But sometimes life just doesn’t cooperate. There’s simply nothing left to cut from my to-do list, no other way to incorporate efficiency. In fact, I know that to overcome the ugliness of my discontent, I have to add more tasks, in bright red letters, to my little sticky notes that clutter up the kitchen counter:

1) Find the quiet time you’re missing. Use it to read scripture, not to blog, edit declarations, or strategize.

2) Remember to use shower time for prayer and meditation.

3) Extend love, even when you don’t feel it, to everyone around you, until your smile becomes real.

And with these things done, and done well, all the rest will fall into place.

How do you overcome your discontent? Where do you carve time from a chaotic, overfull life when you’re already down to bare bones? I’d love to know!

(Stuff in the third person: Jamie is going on her 4th year of membership in Mothers’ Council. She blogs at http://jamiecallowayhanauer.com)

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4 thoughts on “When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

  1. When I’ve faced these times, Jamie, one thing I’ve done is pray: “God, I’m not capable of getting everything done that has to get done today.” Then I just go through the day doing whatever I am capable of doing,, knowing that God is with me even when some things don’t get done.

    I don’t know if that’s much of a help, but it’s how things have gone with me. I’ve found there is no magic bullet. There’s just each day God has given me. And keep in mind, Jamie, that even though this is how hectic your life is now does not mean this is the way it will always be. Things change. That’s another thing I’ve found.

    Blessings,
    Tim

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement! My oldest is 16, and in the 13 years between him and my daughter, I found out that, yes, things do slow down and change, and we do get to organize our lives again. But…. now that I have the 16yo, the 3.5yo, and the 8 month-old, it’s hard to feel that!!! I will follow your advice to keep praying, keep going, and keep reminding myself things won’t always be so hectic! Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

  2. Haha on the underwear “joke”. Just yesterday I was trying to cajole my 3 year old son into wearing a life vest, but the only one available was pink. He protested. I told him the (true) story of once wearing his daddy’s underpants because I had no clean underwear of my own to wear and some underwear was better than none. And my best (explanation) wasnt good enough either. No bueno on the pink life vest.

    *sigh *

    Guess we’ll just have to eat (chicken apple sausages again!), pray, love.

    • So funny how even by 3-years-old they know the gendered colors of blue and pink! Glad to know you were enjoying the water on a hot day. And yep, some undies are definitely better than no undies – glad your husband was willing to share. 🙂

      Eat, pray, love, and pray some more, indeed!

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