It seems that no matter how hard I try, there's always something I could do better.
I make sure the boys' teeth get brushed but often forget to brush their hair.
I bathe the kids every day but their clothes are usually wrinkly and a little too small.'
We have Family Home Evening faithfully but frequently skip church.
I try to cook nutritious meals but Soren's diet is still 90% processed foods.
I read to my children and take them for walks and sing them songs and don't let them watch too much TV but I must be missing something because Liam still doesn't talk and Soren refuses to ride his trike without me walking alongside him.
I clean constantly but the house is always cluttered and the decor is dismal. And the lawn. Oh, the shame of my life. How I hate that lawn and the fact that everyone else in the whole damn world seems to have the time and energy and money and know-how to make their lawn luscious, thick, and weed-free, with perfectly sculpted bushes and beautifully architectured flower beds.
I get along with people and have many wonderful relationships with co-workers and family and close friends but I still struggle with self-doubt, insecurity, and fear in developing new friendships.
I don't garden, I don't can. I don't write down stories that Soren dictates to me. I don't practice Spanish or memorize poetry. I don't hang cute crafts in my house and take flawless photographs of them to post on my blog. My home filing trays are piled more precariously than the Leaning Tower of Pisa with an unorganized assortment of preschool worksheets, possibly overdue bills, and unopened bank statements. My walls have three large patches of plaster that leer hideously at visitors from the walls. There is hard water build-up on my faucets. My kids whine. I need to replace the spark plugs in my car. My clothes are untrendy and old. My hair is flat and uncooperative. My heels are cracked. I haven't prayed consistently since '04. I don't serve enough.
There's so much I need to do-- and want to do-- and just not enough time or energy or money or willpower to do it with.
Yesterday Abe and I were in the craft store and I impulsively threw some Harvest decorations into the cart. "Honey," he said. "That's a little hard on the old budget, don't you think?"
"I just want to be like the other girls," I told him. Just like all those other girls who seem to have it all together, who craft and sew and have lovely well-groomed children who always obey and share without being prompted, those girls who wear perfectly coordinated outfits with their perfectly sculpted hairdos and perfectly applied makeup. The girls who get together to do Zumba while their children play, who know everyone in the community and feel perfectly at home whenever they go out. Who love the gospel and involve the Lord in their lives instead of being stubborn and doubtful and hard-hearted and moody.
I stood there in Michael's clutching my fall garland in one hand and my smelly pine cones in the other hand and suddenly felt very small, like a teenage girl begging her mom to buy her a $100 pair of Lucky jeans just so she could fit in. I saw this, but I still bought the garland. And the smelly cones.
Sometimes I imagine God as a warm-hearted, big-bosomed black lady with a Southern accent. Tonight as I write this I can almost feel her taking my hand and, in her warm molasses voice, saying, "I know, honey. I know you're trying so hard. And I think you're doing just fine. More than just fine. You're doing great. So don't you worry so much about what everyone thinks. You know and I know that you're doing what you can. That's all that matters."
And I would pass that along to all of you women out there who feel, from time to time, insufficient and less than. You are doing just fine. In fact, you're doing great. Don't worry about what everyone else thinks. You're doing what you can. God's love will make up the difference.