good enough

 

Last year.

Last year, we settled into our first home, bought after many, many years of trying to fix the past. Out of the woods and into the sunshine.

Last year, I said goodbye to a regular paycheck, venturing out on my own. Learning trust again. Finding unexpected blessings.

Last year, we finally gave a kid his Christmas wish of eight years: a dog. He earned the money and we said yes.

Last year, we renewed and strengthened some friendships and said yes as often as possible to being with them. Our home. Your home. Church.

This year…

I’m excited to start a new year and am setting out to reach some long time goals. Thankful for the people beside me who are doing the same.

Dropping some weights along the way, and some of this post shared here is exactly what I needed to start this January 1.

Perfectionism is a torment. And I don’t know if you’re battling it too, but it wreaks havoc in my personal and creative life.

Never good enough. For all sorts of messy reasons.

Perfectionism is a thief of joy. Joy, my one word for 2016. I love one word. Invite was my word for 2015 and it did wonders. Opened doors.

Time to step through them.

Going to put more of me out there this year. Going to take walks. Going to publish things I’ve written – online or otherwise. Going to believe in good enough.

Starting here.

“Sometimes you have to accept that you’ll never be acceptable enough for some people. And whether you accept that as their issue or yours — is up to you.” -Ann Voskamp

dear mom who is trying to do everything right

I remember reading the list in the What to Expect Book carefully and following every detail. Like I was making a lemon meringue pie. Or replacing the water pump in a car. I had never washed a newborn before! I needed detailed instructions.

Somewhere in that picture, there’s a baby.

She’s wearing her “in case the ultra-sound was wrong” turned “emergency backup clothes for when I don’t get out to the shared laundry” blue long johns. (It was a good thing I had several back ups.)

I put this picture in her baby book, captioning it: Mommy was afraid she’d make a mistake! and laughing at myself a little. I had just had baby number three when I wrote it — bathing a baby wasn’t such a big deal anymore.

But the first bath? I remember reading the list in the What to Expect Book carefully and following every detail. Like I was making a lemon meringue pie. Or replacing the water pump in a car. I had never washed a newborn before! I needed detailed instructions. And when I took a step back to see what the supply list looked like in real life, well, I had to take a picture.

But it was only the beginning of trying to do it all right: crying it out, pacifiers, potty training . . .

It’s funny, looking back . . . Our first three babies each came home with a different instruction for how to lay them in their crib. Side, tummy, back . . . and car seats changed from front to rear facing. It was a struggle to keep up with the latest thing that’s best for your baby. I didn’t always. I couldn’t.

Twenty years have passed since that first baby bath. And I’ve made more mistakes in parenting than 25 year old me would care to know. She would judge me. Me and my dirty van and my belly fat. Because she was determined to get it as right as possible.

I’ve had to learn to relax a little and be okay with some imperfection. I mean, I was the mom with the birthday themes you couldn’t buy party goods for at Party City — making fancy cakes and invitations. And look at me now — I sent a cake mix, cup cake liners and candles to my college girl to help celebrate her 20th birthday and didn’t even think about frosting til I walked out of the post office.

But I have to be honest with you, every now and then an accusing voice says you did it all wrong, it’s because you didn’t ____  and other sorts of things accusing voices say.

So I listen for a minute, or a while, or a season, and try and separate the truth from the lies. And then I have to tell myself some truth: So many of the things we think are important for our kids just aren’t.

Sleeping all night by three months old? Not necessary.

Preschool? Not necessary. (Unless it’s for mom’s sanity.)

Having their own room? Not necessary.

A smart phone? Not necessary.

How do I know these things? Because none of them were a big deal until our lifetime.

Babies were born and bathed for generation upon generation without What to Expect. And babies slept next to mom for warmth and protection and were probably nursed back to sleep so they didn’t wake pa and the other kids up before morning chores. And in some states, still, kids aren’t required to be formally educated until age 8 — long past pre-school.

Oh, mom trying to do everything right, do you love your children with your whole life? Then you already are doing it more right than you know. Forget the trappings of baby and childhood that are all the rage today and gone tomorrow. Think of what lasts. It’s not the latest must-have your child needs. It’s you.

You are showing your child God’s love through every bath you give, every meal you make, every nose you wipe, every dream you encourage, every time you drop them off or pick them up when it’s totally inconvenient.

And in the middle of all that business of life, you are going to make mistakes.

But that love you have for your child, that sacrificial love, is going to carry you and that child through all the mistakes you are going to make — and all the mistakes that child is going to make because she’s not perfect either. Love, dear mom, covers a multitude of sins.* 

So why do we stay up so late then, and get up so early and wear ourselves thin and ragged?

Sometimes it’s love, yes. But I wonder sometimes if it’s because we’re trying so very, very hard to do it all just exactly right. And perfectionism doesn’t translate so well into love.

Love your children with you today. Love them even if it gets really messy and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

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*1 Peter 4:8

 

 

a season of good enough

if you’re like me, you really don’t have time to do it perfectly. Sometimes not even decently.

There is this thing I struggle with, and maybe you do, too.

I hit a roadblock of disappointment, and then I am faced with a choice. I can either climb out of discouragement, embrace what is and let go of what is not. Or, choose to stay and wallow in the what is not until it hardens around me and I am stuck.

I’m not talking about grief. I mean disappointment. Maybe frustration. Something that slows me to a grinding halt.

I’m realizing how much of an all or nothing sort of person I am. If I can’t do it well, or the way I envision it, well then, I’d rather not do it.

I wrestle with this all the time.

In my yard.

In my house.

On my desk.

In conversations.

With photo albums.

With Exercise.

With relationships.

With writing.

Volunteering at school.

Praying.

It’s a heavy expectation I put on myself. 

And if you’re like me, you really don’t have time to do it perfectly. Sometimes not even decently.

Sometimes, I have to skip the gourmet, make it from scratch dinners I love to prepare because in order to be able to eat together tonight, dinner has to be done in 20 minutes.

I need to master the art of making the most of minutes. And I don’t mean a constant flurry of busy.

What I mean is, being content with sliding those pictures into old fashioned sleeves instead of waiting for the week of nothing that will never happen, in which I will create gorgeous scrapbooks out of 20 years of over snapping pictures.

I mean cleaning the room even if I hate the furniture.

I mean saying something even if it isn’t worded exactly right.

I mean learning the discipline of just writing for a half an hour. Because I don’t have six.

And then let it be, and go to bed.

What about you? What keeps you from being satisfied with good enough?

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