My life is brimming. Where there’s good family time, there’s also getting on my nerves time. Where there’s wonderful resources to read, there’s no designated time to read them. It’s a yin and yang of good stuff and bad stuff doused with expectations that leap and land in my head from who knows where and leave me saying, what sort of life is this? Am I doing it right? It feels like too much. And it is. Because I haven’t adjusted my expectations to meet up with my “best” work. I have yet to understand fully what “good enough” means.
I’m doing my best every day. I am the best mother I’m capable of being at any given moment under that moment’s circumstances. And lacking any more arms or a private paid army of task-doers, I’m doing a pretty darn good job. The dirty nails are clipped every so often. The bellies are filled and they whine with that spoiled tone that says their needs are met. Yet I can continue to feel like I’m not enough. Me thinks my standards of enough need to be lowered.
“Motherhood is a Sisyphean task.
You finish sewing one seam shut, and another rips open.
I have come to believe that this life I’m wearing will
never really fit.”
— Jodi Picoult, House Rules —
I’d like to be creative more often than I am these days. I think fondly of my craftroom as I’m grocery shopping or folding that next load of laundry. I aspire to so many wonderful soul building tasks as I do those mysterious housewife tasks I do so well. Our lives look calm because of my hard work. And I literally have no brain or energy left to get that leg up on myself that I yearn for. My aspirations are just above my head always making me feel like this much of a loser. Housework is Sisyphean indeed as my friend Sabrina suggests.
My therapist asked permission to bust me and I gave it to her. She said she observed that I was always looking for the negatives. I agree with her as I seem to collect them up and savor them like some sort of sad sack rosary ritual. I have defined myself for so long by what I don’t have and by what goes wrong that I don’t think I have a realistic understanding of what enough or my best truly is. But I need to hurry up and lower the bar if I ever want to hope to feel like maybe I’m on my game and where I need to be now.
That constant feeling like I’m not enough, not doing enough, can’t reach the standard or the bar that is set, is a joy stealer. Seems so sad to feel like I’m not doing my best when I work so very hard every day. So let’s adjust this scene shall we? Let’s lower the standard and make it easier to connect with joy every day somehow.
Simone de Beauvoir on cleaning:
“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”
For me maybe it’s finding room in the budget to sub out my household work. Hire a cleaning lady regularly to get to the dusting I’ll never get to. Or maybe it’s being more Sandra Dee and buying prepackaged dinner for the ease of it all. Or doing one more day of childcare. Or just making Wednesdays my mandatory reading night.
Any and all of these would help tremendously so why don’t I allow for all of them? Because I’m so used to having it be hard, it’s unthinkable to make it easy. If I keep holding the expectations above my head and those standards too high, I guarantee that I will always feel sucky. Shift is happening.
I spoke with a wheelchair bound woman about gardening recently. She can not get out to weed her garden and lose herself there like she’s used to. And when I bemoaned the fact that so many plants had been murdered off by the late spring cold snaps two years in a row, she looked at me and said,”You just pick up and start over again. You replant and begin again because there’s no other choice”. Wisdom of experience trumps whiny head voices.
So I am going to be very conscious of the standards of living I set that may be a little to haughty to keep myself risen to. Do my best, let go of the rest. Shoot those expectations right out of that pie in the sky. And begin again with the new belief that I’m doing my best at any given time. It’s my expectations of what my best should look like that need to go a little substandard in order to not go insane and live a feeling of happy fulfillment for the rest of my days until again I am forced to adjust my perceptions and my choices and begin anew in my spiritual and emotional garden.
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Oh housework! It’s definitely one of those necessary, but thankless things we must do. It’s easy to focus on negatives when the positives don’t make an appearance. I hope that you are making time for yourself to do things that are fulfilling. When you do that, I think it’s easier to let go of the negatives. Nothing will ever be perfect. Hang in there, Shalagh!
I agree completely Amy. When you do the good stuff, the bad stuff doesn’t seem so bad. But when you don’t allow for the good stuff and just keep doing the bad? Drudgery, despair, and hopelessness become the prevailing mode. Been there, done that.
Thanks so much for your support Amy.