I used to be so good at this.
Sure, it took me months to figure out the perfect combination of activities that made for one ideal, child-friendly, productive and peaceful day. But once I had that routine down, I was doing good. I was a stay-at-home-Mom keeping a baby happy while maintaining a reasonably clean house, having dinner started by the time the husband got home, and finding enough time for the things that were important to me: writing, getting together with other women, and spending time in prayer and study.
Yesterday, it was just Cameron and I at home. My husband had an engagement that required him to have the car, so I was fully prepared to be super-mom for a while. My goals were to make sure Cameron was having a great time, get the house a little cleaner, work on some photo editing that desperately needs to get done, and blog.
When I was on maternity leave, this would not have been a huge undertaking.
Every time I sat at the computer to get some work done, even after preoccupying my son with an activity, he would be at my desk chair, turning it around to face him and either whining for me to get up or begging to sit with me. I soon came to the conclusion that I can no longer be productive when it is just Cameron and I.
After I made Cameron’s lunch, I thought for sure I could complete a little bit of the work that I was stressing about. I sat my son in his high chair with his lunch and a spoon and I sat at the computer in front of a wedding photo that needed editing. I turned my attention to my son a few times, sharing some smiles and some laughs and some delicious, tomato sauce covered ravioli.
I refocussed my attention to the wedding photo for two minutes.
When I turned back, there was ravioli everywhere. Ravioli on the carpet. Ravioli on the living room chair. Ravioli under my son’s butt.
Messy, tomato sauce covered ravioli.
I freaked. I had a little bit of a meltdown. I felt tears brimming in my eyes. I started counting down the minutes until nap-time. I complained to Twitter.
I had failed at doing something I used to pride myself in.
I am no longer good at this.
In retrospect, I think I demand too much of myself. But I am completely unable to decipher what I should let slip if I can’t do it all. So day after day I am faced with this overwhelming feeling that I just can’t do it. I can’t be the best mother I can be. I can’t be the best wife I can be. I can’t be the best housekeeper I can be. I can’t be the best me I can be.
And I don’t want to let any of those expectations slip.
I wonder if motherhood is all about expecting the best of ourselves but being overly critical of our failings?
We want so desperately for our children to be wonderful, amazing human beings, so we see accomplishments in everything they do. Just watch the Twitter feed of a mother with a new baby. Do you see how much she brings up poop? We’re proud of our children, even the crappy parts.
So why can’t I apply this same mentality to myself? Why do I constantly feel like I am failing instead of noticing all the amazing things I am doing within the context of my family?
I hope today that you and I both find something within ourselves that we can be wholeheartedly proud of. I hope, even as the to-do list lengthens, we can be proud of what we are accomplishing. Because if you are loving someone, if you are making someone’s day brighter, you are doing something incredible.