Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Best We Can

My dear friend Pam posted a quote to my Facebook wall on Saturday morning that said, "Reading won't solve all your problems. But then again, neither will housework." At the top of the picture/quote, she wrote, "For Jenny, who somehow gets it all done. And makes it look easy." Such a nice comment, but not really true. I looked around my very messy house and knew that I don't get it all done. And it certainly isn't easy. Then after I got off Facebook, fed my kids (cold cereal) and took a shower, I headed to the grocery store. As I was checking out, the cashier commented to another cashier that she felt discouraged. She said that her neighbors' kids seem to be perfect, their houses all seem to be clean all the time, and they all do cutesy things and their kids do chores without complaining and her kids were whining about having to do chores because they'd been back to school for 3 days and "never get a break." When she began ringing up my items, she asked if I had kids. I told her yes, and I said that few of us (if any) are as perfect as we might seem from the outside looking in. We're all just trying to do the best we can. Some of us maybe appear better at juggling many balls than others but we're all dropping some balls and none of us has perfect kids or are perfect parents. And that's okay, as long as we're doing the best we can. I hope my words helped, at least a little bit. I've been reflecting on this ever since.

Sometimes I think that my friends and particularly my coworkers have ridiculously high opinions of me. I had to laugh a couple of days ago when I was wearing a skirt and a coworker asked if I sewed it. I laughed and said, "No, I don't sew." She said, "Well, you're so good at so many things that I thought maybe you sewed too." No. No I don't. I don't sew. I don't garden (well, not really, but I am getting tomatoes this year and a few peppers... not enough to be giving away to others...only a tomato every 3-4 days, but still...tomatoes are growing...this is seriously a huge success for me.) I don't do crafts. I don't sing or play an instrument. I do teach. I do cook pretty well. I do keep my house relatively clean (but not my car! It's embarrassing.)

I am doing the best I can. Sometimes my best is pretty good. And sometimes my best is pretty lousy. Sometimes I cook a great breakfast, pack my kids lunches, iron their clothes the night before, cook a healthy dinner, help with reading and piano and violin and I'm even patient and forgiving and read them a story before bed and kiss them good night. But many times while I may still complete many of those tasks (although honestly, most of the time, 2 meals a day is my limit and my kids usually eat school lunch), I am far too often impatient, cranky and tired. I do know that when I am consistently taking care of the most important things (scripture study, prayer, getting sleep...this is a hard one for me sometimes..., making some time to read or blog, attending the temple, serving others), then my capabilities are enlarged. My best becomes better. My juggling improves and I don't drop so many balls (or get as frustrated with myself or my family when the balls do drop). When I focus on what matters most, my perspective shifts and I see clearly who I am, what I am capable of, and how precious my children are and I'm better able to show that through my actions. But I am no super hero. I am perfectly human just like every other good mother I know. But I feel confident that some day my children will grow and become mothers and do the best they can. They will recognize that they are imperfect, and that I am too. They will understand that I did the best I could and I will be able to tell them that it is enough. My best is enough, and your best is enough too. It isn't easy, but it isn't meant to be easy. We don't learn anything from easy. We learn from stretching. We learn from tossing one more ball into the air than we think we might be able to juggle. We learn from trying, day after day after day to do our best. Then we forgive ourselves (and each other) for the balls we drop and recognize that we aren't professional jugglers but that we're improving. We are growing. And sometimes we recognize that we have added too many balls. Maybe we can juggle three but not four and so we do some self examination and remove something from our lives. And we try, oh we try, not to look at how many balls others are juggling and determine our worthiness based on their juggling skills. Because our best really is good enough. We are good enough.

(In an effort at full disclosure I must admit that I don't actually juggle at all. Can't even keep two balls in the air. This was all metaphorical. I can juggle a lot of responsibilities, but I am as clumsy as can be and juggling is not among my talents.)