When Bug was born I was compelled to do everything I could to make his first years the best and be the awesomest mom on earth. I started making his baby food whenever possible. I put him in the best diapers we could afford. I shopped only at Sears for all of his clothes because of their great Kidvantage program and I stayed home with him until he was almost five months old and even then his first sitter was a close friend from high school with kids of her own; someone I knew and trusted.
I worried about schedules and feedings, I updated the baby book regularly and never missed a well-child visit and I spent crazy amounts of money on those milestone pictures.
Then I had Bebe and Shorty and was thrust into a world of trying to constantly keep up. Some things I let slide and took to Walmart or resale shops and garage sales for clothes. I might have skipped a pediatrician appointment (Don’t ask me how many I skipped with Peanut after the age of one), and schedules? Who needed em!? Things found a way to work themselves out, with our without my help.
I gave up on trying to do everything the best and just focused on the best that I could.
A doctor gave me a wakeup call after Peanut was born that really set that way of thinking in motion. It was a post-surgery visit from removing almost 30 years of scar tissue off my heart. It was done in the hopes that I’d have more energy. The doctor looked at me and at Brian and said, “You’re never going to be able to hold down a 40+ hour a week job, keep house, and keep up with 4 kids. You’re just not. You can’t be everything. Something is going to have to give.”
So the full time job was what was given up and so was the keep house part, but that was okay with me because I didn’t love what I was doing at the time and I hated housework. That’s also about the time I had started blogging. I had already done some writing online and for a local paper and was enjoying it so giving up the job didn’t matter to me. Bug was in soccer and Bebe was starting Kindergarten that fall and the timing seemed to be right. The doctor seemed to be right. (Damn doctors and their smartypantsness).
I hated hearing what the doctor said because even though I had already been struggling to do everything before Peanut arrived I was still trying. Not doing it all on doctor’s orders seemed to make sense and a great reason not to do it all. “Sorry I can’t bake 5 dozen cookies and carpool for the girl scouts this week… doctor’s orders” (Well, I never actually said that to anyone, but it sounded good in my head should that ever actually happen and I needed an out). But it was still painful nonetheless. It was as if the doctor was affirming that I was failing. (Shit. My first confirmed mom fail.) I hadn’t been doing things perfectly all along, it was only in my head.
I decided that what was in my head was good enough. That it had been good enough in my head all along and it was time to spread it around outside of my head.
Life got cluttered (the house got cluttered). Doctors appointments got missed and yet the kids stayed healthy. I started focusing on what I wanted to do and started listening to what the kids didn’t want to do. I stopped feeling guilty about not being able to volunteer at school or being late for soccer or softball practice (or school). I stopped worrying if dinner was mac n cheese for the second time that week or if it was chicken and dumplings with asparagus and mashed potatoes (though I admit to liking the chicken dinner over the mac n cheese best). I stopped beating myself up over sending the kids to school in dirty socks (so long as you couldn’t smell ‘em through the shoes they were just fine) and forgetting bath night and opting for a quick scrub down with a washcloth and soap in the morning before school. I even taught the girl what to do with the hair if you don’t feel like doing it. (Ponytails are the shit aren’t they?)
I just finally knew it wasn’t possible to be the best at everything. I had to pick and choose what I wanted to be best at in that moment. And so far I have made it work for me (and even made a blog about it… you’re reading it now).
But things can’t ever stay the same can they? For the first time in 15 years I’ll have no kids at home with me during the day. I’ve found a full time job (the thing that the doctors advised against) but it lets me work from home part of the time and I love that it lets me keep on doing what I love and it came to me because of what I love. And with all those kids in school come the activities that we don’t want to say no to and have the means to let them all do (damn does that ever feel good).
And so I feel the pull. To be the best at everything again. To not let anyone down (I’m still not doing laundry if I don’t feel like it. Stinky feet or not), and it makes it harder partly because I love what I’m doing; for the first time EVER. But it still weighs on me because I know that the needs of the small and large people at home have to come first, even before what I love doing. I don’t want to wind back up at the doctor’s office and being told that something has to give again. I’ve built the last ten years learning how to become “good enough” and letting the things that don’t matter, go.
Hearing the doctor tell me that it’s okay to let things go was my hall pass on the small stuff; I only wish he’d told me sooner. Because in the last five of those ten years, I’ve come to love being good enough and shrugging off things that would make other moms’ eyes twitch. I’ve loved learning how to settle into myself and just Be. This new self with four ornery kids and cows and enough yard to lose a kid or two in (though I’ve tried to lose them out there, they still manage to find their way back to the house) is where I want to be. I don’t want to be thrust back into pleasing everyone all of the time.
Though I admit, I get off a bit on the chaos and rushing and last minute planning but too much? Not my cup of tea. Not even my cup of iced tea! Because even though the chaos is like a drug that makes me float higher than the clouds, the coming down is painful and wears on my body and my mind. It trickles down to the kids and makes for unpleasant arguments over nothing whatsoever and it makes Brian steer clear of me when all I really want is for him to hold me and tell me that I’ll figure out all the craziness and it will be fine. Those kinds of highs are what made the doctor say “let something go”.
I don’t want to be Never Enough again. I hated it there. I don’t want to teach my children that Never Enough is the only place to live because it’s not. There is this other much better, more lovely and peaceful place called Good Enough and I’ve created a home there, complete with dirty socks and dishes (and a few dust bunnies because no home is complete without a pet or two) and I want them to love it there too like I do. I want them to learn that Good Enough is beautiful place to live.
I feel the pull away from my Good Enough life and as Brian says, I will figure it out, I always do… but I don’t want to wander too far away from home before that happens.