I wearily reviewed my long to-do list and calendar, feeling disappointed and frustrated. Too few check marks and too many regrets–none of my projects had moved forward. The dinner for my friend with a new baby turned out mediocre, and the afternoon watching friends’ children left me depleted and my house shabby. I was late to my school volunteering commitment, and I had overeaten and under exercised.
Despite my original intentions, I hadn’t focused on my children as I would have liked. If my week was equivalent to an important term paper, I felt I would have been graded a big FAIL.
As I expressed my inadequacies and frustrations to my good husband, he listened patiently. Mid-meltdown he found a marker and paper and wrote in big letters the phrase, “This is enough.”
Say what?! I wasn’t pleased with this solution and slightly argued the idea: “I should be happy that I feel like a failure?” But the more we discussed, I realized that my frustrations were due to some inaccurate expectations I was placing on myself. As I reflected on my week through the lens of “this is enough,” I was able to see things a little differently.
I thought about how I had traded “to-do” list productivity for a few spontaneous service opportunities that were far more rewarding. My new momma friend was grateful that I had brought anything at all—she wasn’t expecting a gourmet meal. My children enjoyed the playtime with the friends (and we had eventually cleaned the house). My daughter’s school teacher thanked me for the time that I did get to spend in the classroom, without a word about my arrival and departure times.
Though I was disappointed that I hadn’t stuck to my original plan for food and exercise, I realized I was being too hard on myself; I did get a little fitness time in and had eaten plenty of veggies. And most importantly, though I hadn’t been as present with my children as I would have liked, I needed to cheer myself on because I was still trying.
Since then, I have kept the “This is enough” sign close, as a reminder to be a little gentler and a little kinder to myself.
Here are a few things that I have have discovered in the process:
- It is enough to love my body now. I don’t need to train for a marathon or take an amazing “after picture” to love my body. I exercise to maintain my health, strength, and mental clarity—not to wow virtual strangers or keep my local running shoe store in business. My body is here to love and serve my family, and right now, that is enough.
- It is enough that my young children are simply…children. They are not soccer stars, chess whizzes, or musical prodigies. I don’t have them signed up for many lessons or classes. They love to create at home, are active and happy, and are ready for new adventures. This is enough.
- It is enough that when my daughter comes home in tears about (another) friendship dilemma, I don’t solve the problem, contact other moms, or make promises. She is learning how to problem solve and communicate, and it is enough for me to show my love and support with my full attention and genuine concern.
- It is enough that I can say “yes” to a play date without putting on a tea party or a puppet show. It is enough to say “no” to an unreasonable request without an “I’ll make it up to you.” My children are simply happy to play and are plenty creative on their own. They will survive the disappointment and will find new opportunities.
- It is enough that I am learning how to simply be in the moment as I watch my kids laugh and scramble around on the playground. I don’t need to capture it for Instagram or coin a witty saying for Facebook. It’s enough to simply enjoy the experience.
It is enough to have a normal day marked by steady repetition, work, and even a little craziness. There doesn’t need to be chocolate chip pancakes, new clothes, or a maid service to make us happy. It’s even okay that my heart isn’t bursting with love for my children every moment of the day. Sometimes it is enough that we made it to bedtime—that we just got through the day.
Of course, it would be ideal to give our best every single day. But now I know that today’s best is different from yesterday’s best. Our “best” changes. And some days I’ll admit that I am not even giving my best. But I am still giving. And that is enough.
QUESTION: In which areas of your life do you need to say of your efforts, “It is enough?”
CHALLENGE: Post this idea somewhere in your home or in your planner as a reminder. When feelings of frustration or inadequacy creep in, stop those thoughts with “It is enough,” and deliberately recount the ways you are trying. Lift another mother by helping her see her worthy contributions.
Edited by Dawn Wessman and Sarah Monson.
Fridge Image provided by the author.
Feature Image from Shutterstock with graphics by Julie Finlayson.