When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

My best simply isn’t good enough anymore.

No, no. It really isn’t. I’m not fishing for compliments, or advice, or sympathy. I’m just stating the facts, ma’am.

I say the following phrase with increasing frequency: “I’m doing the best I can!” This is usually in response to questions like:

“Why are there no clean towels?”

“Why do I have to borrow Dad’s socks again?”

“What am I supposed to eat? There’s no food in the house!”

And then there are the questions I ask myself:

“Why haven’t you had quiet time today?”

“Why does everything seem so grungy and chaotic?”

“Why am I so snappy with my family when I have so darn much?”

“Why are we eating chicken apple sausage and noodles AGAIN?”

Lately I’ve felt a big, ugly thing inside of me. I don’t have to be a psych major to know what it is: It’s discontent because nothing is how I want it to be.

Common refrains:

“Honey, PLEASE take the kids out today so I can get something done.”

“Honey, PLEASE take Rachel to the Splash Park so I can have a bit of silence and maybe get a shower.”

“Honey, PLEASE help Collin so I can type up this declaration.”

So, even though I’m “doing the best I can,” that “best” seldom seems to include “doing it all,” or hanging out with my kids, who I very much wanted and am so glad to have.

Trust me: this has nothing to do with having a smaller to-do list. I am not trying to scrapbook and reorganize closets and Shop Vac the garage. This is Survival 101. Such as having NO TOWELS, not even dish towels, the other day, so we all had to drip dry after showering. Such as having canned soup and a green lemon from our lemon tree as the only foods in the house. Such as my husband borrowing my underwear because all of his are in the wash (I made that last one up, but not by much). Such as having to store my “active” files on the kitchen counter, right by the CDs of singing vegetables and the “Home Menus and Shopping Lists” binder I haven’t touched in eight months, so I can glance over them while boiling noodles.

Read the rest of today’s post here.

8 thoughts on “When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

  1. Pingback: Week Links #9 | jamie calloway-hanauer

  2. Been there; discovered that when I pray first, the priorities straighten out. Also, the ability to organize begins in the right ear.

    I also make lists of stuff I need or of things I want to happen whether or not I have the means, then leave them in a journal or my Bible. Six months later, all the important stuff has materialized and most things have happened, sometimes in surprising ways. By then, I usually see that my priorities have shifted and some of what seemed vital may no longer even qualify for a list. So I start a new one.

    The wait may be longer, of course. For example: we have a couple of acres of mowed grass around our old farmhouse but the gardens that once fed the family, body and soul, went to weed and tall grasses several years ago in the wake of illness. My arthritic hands and many responsibilities limit my gardening to houseplants — but do not quench my longing for the shapes and colours of flower beds and herb plots — as I have reminded God with a sigh from time to time. God clearly loves wilderness and weeds as much as displays of domesticated plants, so perhaps my yen is not a top priority for God.

    When our sons’ friend B. arrived in some distress a few weeks ago to stay for a while, I noticed his pleasure in helping them with their large vegetable gardens. I mentioned that I missed our old garden. He said, “I can give you a garden.” I told him he was welcome to do anything he pleased, imagining we might soon have a few petunias at the edge of the deck. I was dumbfounded when he turned “some yard work” into a day job. This man displayed a willingness to work belied by his pink dreads and leisure lifestyle. He has restored three flower beds, cut the tall grasses around our ancient apple trees, and has felled the jungle of weeds in the 40’x40′ area past the Burning Bush where the big garden used to grow. Now, we can see mounds of pink and white peonies and circles of lemon day lilies, the tiny purple blossoms of comfrey bushes and the lush foliage of false Solomon’s seal. My flower vases have regained their raison d’etre. A garden seat made of a stone slab set on rocks came to light along with a climbing rose given to me by my mother when we moved here. B. uncovered hidden hostas and silvery Beacon dead nettle, then moved them to a perennial border where they can flourish. He fastened window boxes trailing vines and geraniums to the deck rails. He has found (literally, in someone’s trash) garden ornaments and he has chosen unusual rocks to set off his plantings. (He has his eye on other dramatic stones that he intends to import from our woods.) He edged the flower beds with rock borders and straightened a rose trellis. As the spring buying season is past, excellent bargains in herbs, fuschia, clematis, and other loveliness have added to B’s plant palette. Then he moved a circle of stones to make a barbeque pit not far from the herb plot. The man has the soul of a landscape gardener and may have come a step closer to a satisfying and remunerative occupation. B’s marvel not only was worth waiting for but helps me to believe the universe is unfolding according to a better plan than I can wish for. But I still make lists.


    • This might be my favorite comment ever. πŸ™‚ What a blessing B has been in your life, pink dreads and all. I love the image of what your gardens must look like!

      Regarding the rest… the good news is I am hyper-organized (perhaps a tip off to right ear dominance?), but sometimes life just throws too many curve balls and my best laid plans go out the door. Last week was especially chaotic, but things have calmed some now. I love lists, and I think I will adopt your practice of leaving the lists in my Bible. I like that idea quite a bit, actually. I also like how you’ve noticed priorities shift drastically, even in as little as six months. I will have to remind myself of that more often!


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