I have an ongoing conversation with one of my sister-friends. We’re both mothers to young kids. Wives. Teachers. Stay at home mamas trying to be everything to everyone while leaving a little something for ourselves. It’s an impossible task. Completely impossible. We often text to check in with each other.
We seem to have unraveling days on the same day. We go through the cycles of life together and I know I can count on her to guide my eyes UP (after I’ve let her know what’s on my mind). Sometimes it’s “easier” to guide someone else’s eyes up to the Savior than it is to look up on my own. I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
My sister-friend and I recently had a discussion about excellence and perfection. These are two concepts they are often lumped together. Some people may even call them synonyms but, I disagree.
I always talk about how I want to be a “good” mother but I’ve only recently considered what a vague statement that is. It’s vague because everyone’s perception of what makes a mother or a father “good” is a tad bit different (although, I would say that there are quite a few ideas that will be the same no matter who you ask). While I’ve been here trying to be a “good” mother, I’ve not left room for my husband to be a “good” father.
I’m a tad bit controlling. I want things done my way and only my way. I am ALWAYS watching to see that he’s doing things the way I want them done. It’s like I’m taking down participation points. This ought not be. I know that just because Wes doesn’t do things the way I
need want them done it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love our girl. His girl. My girl. But, when he does things wrong differently, I take it as a “sign” to mean that he doesn’t love her. Silly, I know. It also seems that he totally doesn’t care what I have to say. I realize this sounds weird but this is how I feel. Those oh-so- reliable feelings.
We actually had a falling out about him not living up to my standards of what I want done. I did not text my sister friend. I did not want to be talked off the edge with scriptures. I wanted to ream my husband. And I may have succeeded in that. I should have gone about it in a different way.
I do this mothering thing so much that I’ve come to think of it more as a job than a gift or a calling. It’s a job that’s got long hours. No leave. No paid time off. No vacation. Not even any (or much) thanks or gratitude. It’s like I’m invisible. Yes, Laila Grace sees me. But I am her sole source of nourishment so it’s pretty much a given that she sees me. But, for the most part, I have become invisible. I need to learn to be okay with that.
Motherhood and parenting has a few basic tasks. These are things that both parents should know how to do and things that they both should be able to do in the dark…maybe even with one arm tied behind their back:
•wash clothes and fold and put them away
•bathe the baby
•comb baby’s hair (after it falls out and comes back again)
•remove boogers and snot
•feed baby (which definitely falls 100% on mama if parents choose to exclusively breastfeed)
•play with and talk to baby
These things are the basics. These are things that everyone should share. But, what I need to realize is that although these are all tasks that should be shared, each parent will not do these things the same way. That’s what’s hard for me.
I’m “on” 24.5 hours a day. I’ve got routines. Preferences. Non-negotiables. Things that have to be done a certain way. Things that I LIKE to be done a certain way. I tend to get the “preferences” and the “non-negotiables” all jumbled up. I guess because I’ve been thinking about this like a job instead of a gift or a calling. It’s MY thing. Except it’s not really solely mine. First of all, I don’t own Laila Grace. She is God’s. Second of all, I am in a marriage partnership so I don’t really get to “be the boss” of all things related to the baby…even though I really, really want to be. Third, even though I don’t work outside of the home as a teacher anymore, I do still work. But mothering Laila Grace is not my “job.”
Thinking about mothering like a job will get me into a lot of trouble. Remember when I talked about how I got my self worth from the things that I do? Well, I really can’t (and shouldn’t) get my value from anything that I do whether that “thing” is teaching or being a mama or being a wife, sister or friend. My value comes from God and the fact that He made me in His image. I must remember this! I need to remember this!
Excellence and perfection. I think I do everything regarding Laila Grace perfectly.. of course. I mean, I wouldn’t be a worthy judge of my husband’s perceived inability if I didn’t think I was perfect. (Yes, there was some “snark” in that statement.) It doesn’t matter if I do things perfectly if I’m running on empty. I’ve been so tired from giving motherhood my all that I actually don’t have much strength left for even trying to be the me I used to be (or, at least the parts that I’m gonna keep). Sigh. That’s the truth.
Here’s my theory about excellence and perfection in the way that I explained it to my sister friend:
Perfection is absolute but excellence is relative. Your “best” at any given moment is different. Lots of factors play into it such as time, rest, amount of concentration, etc. You can only give what you’ve got for any given moment. So, in hindsight, you’ve gotta be able to evaluate if you gave your best effort at that moment. If your answer is “yes,” then that’s excellence.
You may have some mistakes. Some wording may be different than you’d hoped but you did your best at the given moment.
Perfection doesn’t allow any room for error. You can’t enjoy what’s happening at some time with your kids because you’re thinking about something you should be doing with your homework or housework. You can’t allow yourself to be a little spontaneous because you’re all caught up in your head. That’s perfection. Striving to be perfect in one area makes the other areas “off balanced.”
So, no, Wes doesn’t always do things the way I want them done but it doesn’t necessarily mean that his way is wrong. Wrong would be refusing to do certain “basic” tasks that must be done for the baby. Wrong would be acting negligently just because he may not feel like doing what is needed at any given moment. Wrong would be thinking that he only needs to provide financially without also acknowledging the necessity to provide for Laila Grace physically and emotionally as well. Those things are wrong without a shadow of a doubt.
Wes must practice the concept of excellence versus perfection. And so must I. As long as he is practicing excellence with baby girl, I can be okay with that. As a matter of fact, I will be more than okay with that.