Water World

Summertime is a messy time.  I write that as if fall, winter, and spring are neat and clean.  I need to face the music:  life is messy year round.  Sometimes I am really good at accepting that and not tying it to personal failure on my part, but instead to my families’ priorities.  We are all fond of big messy projects and tend to choose them over housework most days.  We’re homeschoolers.  We’re supposed to do this stuff, right?  But sometimes I totally snap and start walking around my house seeing all the work that needs to be done and I start to cry.  Saturday was one of those days for me.  And this was the Saturday that followed the Friday night that I went kayaking with Seth.  According to Jonny, kayaking is really good for me.  It should help me to destressify (yes, that’s a made-up word.)  Though, clearly it isn’t full-proof.  Maybe the problem was that I made the foolish choice to take my camera complete with big heavy zoom lens this time.  (Won’t ever take a camera again.  And because I am right now remembering that someone asked how I protect my camera:  I use Pelican cases)  Or maybe it was that the flies were biting and I had to spend a lot of time slapping them off my arms and legs.

As much as I do love this new water world of mine, kayaking isn’t going to save my soul, if you know what I mean.  But paddling around in the water does give me some time to think things over.  On Saturday, I told Jonny that sometimes I feel so oppressed by a heaviness that seems to be rooted in my desire to do a good job raising our family, and that my failings in this department are so evident that it just crushes me.  He suggested that my very best (perfection in my mind) might not be necessary.  That maybe I just need to focus on doing it without holding myself to a unreasonable standard.  I am human after all.  I can’t be perfect.

I am reminded (yet again) of St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way” and what an important message she has for the tired mother whose work never ends, the mom whose job is never finished.  It’s not what you do, how perfectly you do it, or whether you finish even, but where your heart is in the process.  I struggle because I really love to complete things.  I like to see results.  But so often I am drowning in laundry and my kids are fighting again.  Clearly, the performance mentality I am struggling with is not going to work for me.  And really, what is that about anyway?  I am afraid that at the heart of it, I fall into a pattern of serving myself, rather than my family and even worse, rather than God.  I just want to clean a room and have it stay that way.  I want to teach my kids a lesson and see them take it to heart.  I want to go somewhere as a family and not have kids fighting over who sits where because they are all so kind and generous with each other (because I am doing such a phenomenal job of raising them thank you very much-ha!)  Thankfully, God isn’t demanding to see results:  perfection in housework or even mothering, he’s just asking me to do these things with love.  As long as I am striving for the unattainable, and for the wrong reasons, I am going to find it difficult to love.  I need to focus on the heart behind my every task, rather than the finished product, or how well it is done.  I need to accept the fact that I can’t parent perfectly.  I need to get back to doing small things with love.  And hence, the name of this old blog of mine.  The reminder in my face of the lesson I can’t seem to live consistently.  It’s not the product, but the process.  I was not made for performance, or perfection of task, but for love.  Just do the next thing, don’t worry about doing it well so much as doing it with love.  Okay, Ginny?  You got that? Love.

Comments

  1. So grateful to read this this morning as I catch up on a backlog of blog posts to read. I only have one new(ish) little one, but I have been feeling my imperfection as a mother, wife, and grad student quite acutely these past few days. I’m keeping this post open for later, too, when I’m sure I’ll need reminding that my expression of God’s love is what matters (not whether I’ve finished going through this pile of papers or whether I can get my 4 month old to nap without crying.)

  2. I so needed to read this… thank you so much for this blog, all that you share, and most of all for who you are. Flawed, just like the rest of us… and praying for help from above.

  3. I am ready to cry reading this. I just had a similar conversation with my husband last night. As I am preparing for homeschooling this year and the task before me of a kindergartener, 1st grader,2nd grader, then 4th and 5th graders I am ready to bury my head in the sand. As I look at the mess around me and all I have to do and all I can’t get done and the overwhelming pressure……

    I know as you do that first and for most I need to love and serve God and then my family. This pressure is more about me and my need for perfection than anything. Modifying expectations is so much easier said than done. I want or modify without feeling like I have given in to failure.
    Thank you for this post. It is so easy to fall into the trap of failure and depression. I needed this.

  4. Why, oh why didn’t I read this post last week???? It echoes all of the feelings that I have been coping with lately. Thank you for the honesty and the fresh perspective!

  5. I always leave your blog feeling better; I feel I am not alone with whatever specific and seemingly selfish or indulgent difficulty or anxiety I am having at the time (look, see, we have so much my children/ husband/ home/ health/ the list of gratitude is almost endless!! But then why is it so hard?!) It also gives me a real sense of perspective; so many of your readers voice their similar thoughts and feelings and I realise it’s not wrong or being bad at mothering that I feel this way often (tidiness (relative tidiness!!) is the main issue that unhinges my mental well being-and doesn’t that sound petty on the surface?!) it’s just part of the territory for many personality types.
    (I may be rambling- I too have a sleep deficit at the moment!)
    I always feel better after coming here and feeling understood. And frequently with a helpful idea for getting through the day with a more loving or intentional spirit!
    Also- reading the comments section never fails to deepen the benefits – so thank you. Keep on keeping on… You help many with their day I am positive. Just by being frank and genuine. X

  6. Wise words, Ginny. I remain amazed by the quality of insight in your posts, your awesome photographic talent, your kindness and humility — all while raising and homeschooling 7 children. I wish I had half of what you’ve got. Good luck and god bless!

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been struggling a lot lately. Also, I’m really thankful you took your zoom lens. The photos are beautiful.

  8. Melissa says:

    I’m currently reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” I HIGHLY recommend it. my family of five lives in a small 2 bedroom flat, we had so much stuff, that everywhere I looked was cluttered. getting rid of the stuff, means I don’t have to take care of or organize the stuff that I really didn’t need.

  9. Lyndsay says:

    Thank you for posting. Both this and “The Evolution of Worry” parallel my own struggles. I told my husband last night that I worry I can’t do it all. We have 4 children ranging from 6 yrs. to 6 weeks. How I need to be reminded to do things with love. I often feel as though I’m drowning in my tasks. But, I don’t have to do it all to perfection and I certainly don’t need to do it alone. Ask and you shall receive, right? Lord, grant me grace in my vocation to serve You and those you have entrusted to me. Soon enough my home will be clean, but then my darlings will be grown and living out their own vocations. Let me slow down and let go. Let me delight in these blessings you’ve given me.

  10. This was such a good post to read. Thank you!
    I have this mental issue that every day I need to produce or improve something, so that at the end of the day something is a little better or more than it was in the morning. Not a bad thing really, except when it starts to matter more than loving my family in the way that they need that day! So I need to get my priorities right, and I KNOW that all starts with God. I don’t know why turning to him sometimes seems so hard. Thanks for the reminder that love is the main goal – and that doing life for God is what will turn things to the best.

    Thank you for being so honest about your life – it is both inspiring and comforting (and sometimes funny!) to read your blog! God bless!

  11. I don’t think parenting perfectly exists, maybe parenting adequately?? I think sometimes our children are destined to be a certain way no matter what we do. I was (AM) a clean freak and neither of my adult children embraced that quality but does it really matter? I believe respecting who they are and will be as children and adults is the challenge in parenting and there is more than one way to do anything. Being kind to ourselves as parents is a difficult thing. That negative dialogue that can run in our minds is something we would never ever do to another person and yet we do it to ourselves :/

  12. Oh boy.
    I understand this.
    Time moves so quickly and mamas hearts move in panic because of it. I’m one of them. Learning disabilities that don’t improve fast enough (or at all!), the nice yellow blanket with mold on it because I didn’t launder it on time after a wet camping weekend (weeks ago!), the impolite, curt responses children can give (did I teach them this?!). all the read-alouds I never got to, and two who still can’t ride bikes (and childhood is disappearing!).
    I’m with you on this, Ginny.
    I’m thankful for your authenticity to share, and to help in the process.
    Thank you for your always beautiful thoughts and words of reminder.
    Simply love all we can.

  13. i really enjoy a clean house but when I say yes to the dirty projects I never regret it. thanks for the much needed and appreciated reminder.

  14. It sounds to me like your kids squabble not really fight. That anyone of them would do their level best to help a sibling with the important things. That’s not always easy to face when the squabble is over who sits where just before dinner. (I know this would bring out what my husband calls “The Evil Aunt Lissa” in me.) I know what you mean about the metapile( piles on every flat or semi flat surface) and finding anything in particular involves our stratigraphic filing system (When did you last see it? Now think how far down in a pile might it be.) I find myself dreaming of a clean room. Just one. Instead I’m aiming for a made bed and at least enough space to make dinner. Of course my in-laws are visiting in 10 days and I have to attempt to find part of the house. One rock at a time. Slowly, as you say do want you can with love. If we’re so done in from doing to much we can’t enjoy what we have done. Remember to take a time out for yourself every few hours to take a few minutes and knit, read, or whatever will let you center yourself for the next few hours.

  15. So much with you in this same struggle, Ginny. xo
    -Jaime

  16. Ginny, I cannot tell you how much this post resonated with me today. Your candid reflections are just what I needed for some self realization. Despite my every effort to be patient and loving with my adopted child, there are days when I feel like I am trying to fill a bucket with a very big hole in the bottom. Thank you for bringing me back to a place where I know that loving her is enough – for today.

  17. Luz Maria Perez says:

    Ginny: Thank you so much for taking the time to share how you are feeling. Although I am not a parent, so much of what you struggle with, I do also. I just need to remind myself that I should be satisfied with doing the best I can do. My expectations are so much higher than others which translates to me being harder on myself. Ugh. Still a work in progress though.

  18. wonderful reminder, thank you! I’ve been very overwhelmed lately w littles and housework, laundry – etc that’s super behind, and your exhortation to love is just what I need. thanks for sharing.

  19. whaw !
    thank you !
    your words come in the right place on the right moment …
    as often …

  20. I love how you always manage to put into words exactly how I’m feeling myself. Saint Therese is my confirmation saint so she is very special to me. I too try to remind myself of her little way on a daily (sometimes moment to moment) basis. It is hard, but it’s also beautiful.

  21. I needed to read this today as I struggle with the same things. I am going to be more intentional about doing things with love in my heart as I do them. Thank you!

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