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I should

I had a hard day today. Not bad hard, just emotional and challenging hard.

I realized, with the help of my best friend, that I have some unrealistic expectations.

As a side note, do you have a best friend? I hope so. They are so wonderful and necessary. I adore my husband, and would probably call him my very best friend, but a girl friend is different. Today, without even knowing it, I needed my girl friend. I needed to be able to confess some things that only another mom and wife would understand.  And it helps that mine has known me since I was 18.

Back to my hard day.

It all started when we got on the subject of home school.  It is something our family has gone back and forth on and in thinking about next year with our oldest in first grade and gone every day for 7 hours has brought the idea back up. So I was just casually talking with my friend about my thoughts and got a little teary.  We moved on to another topic {or maybe just got interrupted by our little ones and their play-doh needs} when she said, “it seems like every time you talk about home schooling, you cry”.  Hmmm. She was right. WHY? And this led into quite the counseling session.

I cry because sometimes I feel like home school is the best option for our family. And yet, I am terrified of it. I don’t know how to do it; I’ve never seen it done; I don’t know how to teach one child while my three other are needing me; it is a huge sacrifice of my time and energy and I am not sure if I want to make it. I like {selfishly} the idea of sending my kids off to be taught by a teacher and play with friends while I get a little break.

I feel disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I should be able to figure it out if it is the best for my children. I should be organized enough to do it. I should, I should, I should.

I should have a daily routine for my kids.

I should have a weekly meal plan and all the ingredients ready.

I should keep up with the laundry.

I should be up and dressed and ready before the kids wake.

I should exercise.

I should do my bible study first thing in the morning.

I should keep the house clean{er}.

I should send birthday cards.

I should stop eating anything with sugar in it.

I should call my friends more often.

I should have all our photos organized and made into albums.

I should mop my kitchen floor.

I should teach the boys scripture.

I should play with them more.

I should. I should. I should.

I was trying to write out some of these thoughts earlier tonight and my little girl just didn’t want me to put her down. I should have been processing, coming up with a list of unrealistic expectations and figuring out a solution so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed. But what I needed to do was hold my baby.  And she was so sweet, just looking at me and studying my face.  What really is more valuable?

I’m not sure where all of these expectations come from. I don’t have one particular person in mind that I’m trying to measure up to. I think I just take the culmination of everything I hear another mom doing and think I should be doing the same.  My friend Jen takes her kids on daily walks, so I suddenly feel like I am less of a mom for not doing the same. My friend K.C. makes really healthy {and tasty} food for her family. Amy is a photographer and takes amazing photos of her kids and has some really great traditions centered on family photos.  Nicole loves the Lord, talks about Him whenever she can and is beautifully dressed everyday.  Rae is always designing something more darling than before.  Annie has a gorgeous home, adores her kids and can’t wait for them to wake from their naps.  The list could go on and on.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like I measure up.

And the worst of it is, the only one telling me this is me.

These are all expectations that I am creating for myself, all the while feeling like if I don’t do this, Ryan will be disappointed. If I don’t do that, my children will somehow suffer.

My girl friend reminded me of two things:

1. This has always been my struggle.  I create these lofty expectations and then get really burdened when I can’t meet them. It happened when she first met me and its happening now.  Striving for perfection is not a fun problem to have.

2. This is not what the Lord thinks of me.  He is not shaking his finger at me telling me I should do a better job of keeping the kitchen floor picked up. Nor is it what my husband or children or friends think of me.  Don’t get me wrong, I can be a better wife, a better mom, a better friend.  There is always room for improvement and I am all about continuing to learn and grow. My problem is that when I feel like I have so many shoulds, I get overwhelmed, stuck and so afraid of failing or disappointing, that I don’t even try.

And I’ll add one more:

I did have a baby two weeks ago.

My sweet girl eats so often during the day that I’ve spent more time sitting on the couch in her short lifetime than I have in months. All that downtime has made me feel unproductive.  I am not sleeping as much as usual, so my motivation and energy level is slightly lower than normal.  And I do have three other children.

I should probably cut myself a little slack.

So Audrey’s nursery is not done. She is healthy.

So the laundry is heaped in baskets, still unfolded.  We have clothes.

So I haven’t written thank you cards for all the meals we’ve eaten these past two weeks.  My friends understand.

I’m going to work on getting more organized, especially with meals and our daily schedule.  I’m going to create a list of what is important to me and what kind of wife and mom and woman I want to be.  It is good for me to regroup, set new goals and try to improve on myself.

But I’m also going to remember that no amount of striving will earn greater love. My kids just want to hang out with me. My husband has already chosen me. And, most of all, my Heavenly Father takes me just as I am and fills in my many gaps with His grace.  How amazing is that?

2 Responses to I should

  1. Marie August 13, 2010 at 2:05 am #

    You should read Holly Pierlot’s book “A Mother’s Rule of Life, How to bring order to your home and peace to your heart”.

    PS: I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it!!!
    PS1: If you can read french I have another wonderful book about being a women and how our mission is wonderful! (If you want I can send you some quotes (I’m french but I think I can translate some passage).

  2. Amy R. July 6, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    I just went to a womens retreat with our church a few weeks ago and it was all about these messages that we hear; the “shoulds” you were mentioning. Satan is the one who sets the bar too high – so high we can’t reach it. And in the off-chance that we do reach it, he moves it to a higher place and tells us to try harder. And the “you” statements (“you aren’t a good enough mom”, “you need to do more”, etc.) are more of Satan’s lies. There was TONS more to the message, but that was something big that I took away from it. Give yourself GRACE. Or at least let God give it to you – he already has. And after reading the last few months of your blog, it looks like you are doing wonderfully. Audrey and your boys are so precious.