Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Falling Short

Some days I just feel so insufficient.

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.

8 comments:

Lara said...

Rach! As I read this I had to stop myself and ask "Did I write this?" From the cool clique at church to the constantly messy house to the lawn I haven't watered (or mowed) since the last time we had company, to the constant self-doubt, I swear, this is me. Yet...I am not as brave as you. I occasionally stage some great blog posts/pictures as a front so I fit in with the cool girls. Seriously...we are bosom friends. Why are we fighting it? Can we get together and have a craft day (or a non craft day)?

Leslie said...

Thanks Rachel. I needed to read this today. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. :)

For the record, there are several things you've posted on your blog that have made me think, "Wow, Rachel is so organized. Wow, Rachel is so motivated. Wow, Rachel is so on top of things. I wish I were as good a mom as Rachel is." I'm certainly not a very qualified judge, but I would say that you are DEFINITELY doing better than you think you are.

Karen said...

A long time ago I decided I was only going to put my energy into the things I WANTED to do, not the things I thought I SHOULD do. And man has it made me a whole hell of a lot happier. I don't decorate my house for the holidays (except Christmas... sometimes) because I hate it. I don't do my hair fancy everyday because it takes too much damn time. My lawn has tons of weeds but we just mow them down and nobody is the wiser. I clean my house when I feel like it, I cook when I feel like it, I hang out with friends when I feel like it. And when I don't... I just leave things as they are. Eating a bowl of cereal or a box of mac and cheese doesn't kill me. Clothes strewn all over the bedroom won't hurt anything. Most importantly I get the breaks I need to feel revamped to WANT do those things later.

And nobody else does these things all the time. Most people show the world their successes, not their failures. And usually each success has taken time to accomplish. It's not something that happens overnight.

You do a great job and everybody is just as jealous of you as you are of them. So there.

Thora said...

I need to read this. I need to paint this on edible ink and eat it, and then tattoo it onto my forehead backwards so when I look in the mirror (but not when I'm putting on makeup, because who am I kidding) I will see it every day. I never struggled with insecurity until I got pregnant a couple of years ago, and suddenly now, I worry that I'm the lame mom, or the messy home (well, not much worry there, more like knowledge), especially when I have people over, and they know I was reading a book all day, and therefore it's not that I couldn't have cleaned, it's that I really wanted to read instead, and I'm working hard to remind myself that even so, I really would rather read than clean. Or mow the lawn. And that even when I am trying, like spiritually, that it's a big long staircase, and so what if I was perfect at it all in college, that was before I had kids or whatnot, and I am still allowed to struggle with scripture reading or prayer now.

Sorry I'm talking so much. I know I'm kind of crazy, just someone you knew at Wymount. But you should remember - I read your blog because I love your writing voice. And all the fall crafts in the world from Michael's can't buy that.

Rebecca said...

Wow, you are being way too hard on yourself! You have colossal strengths that you're not listing here. It seems like you are comparing the worst in yourself against the best in everyone else. That's not fair to anyone.

The more I get to know people, the more I realize that no matter how well-put together they are, everyone is fighting a really hard battle and just trying to do their best, as I'm sure you are. Give yourself more credit for your talents and give others more kudos for doing well at theirs.

I agree with Karen: choose something that IS important to you and focus on that and let everything else fall away. You're probably culling examples of women and lumping ALL of their talents together, as if there's some mega-woman out there who does everything. I'd love to meet her and poke her eyes out with you. But Rachel, she doesn't exist.

You have the freedom to be anything you want to be; you can even be lots of things, but no one says you have to do it all right now. Check out this amazing quote from President Packer: http://www.quoty.org/quote/2924

Kristy Skoy said...

Just so you know. My crafting is all I know. I have so much baggage. And I try to hide it. But I am sure it is leaking out to my neighbors. I am a mess! I often leave church crying for being so unlike everyone else. I teach the children stuff I don't even know. I zumba by myself because I don't have close friends to go with. I try to be friends with the neighborhood but the neighborhood doesn't try back. So if I am one of those people that look put together, come on over and see my faults. Because they are HUGE! You are an amazing, educated woman! You are so smart it makes me feel so dumb when i talk or type! You don't need a crafty put together house. That's not you. I see you as someone with huge artwork or a quote covering your walls. Everyone is different and you don't have to be crafty to be cool. You need to be YOU. And everyone will love you for that.

Anonymous said...

You bust out these posts every once in a while, and they are painful to read.
I thought of you during Elder Uchtdorf's talk tonight about forget-me-nots, I think it was especially when he talked about us RS sisters inflicting ourselves with (long) written and unwritten lists of the things we ought to be doing.
It's interesting that you sometimes view God as from a different race and culture. At the end of the RS broadcast, my friend said, "I wonder if this kind of talk [a talk addressing perfectionism, though that's simplifying it] applies to women in other countries, like in Africa. What do they get from this kind of talk?" When you're beating your clothes on rocks in a river, I guess you might not have time to worry about certain things.
I guess from that point of view, this post is a cry of protest about the effects of the society we live in. The world is so unjust!

Emma the Dilemma said...

This is the one I was talking about yesterday, Rachel. I loved the last part so much and the whole thing just summed up how I am feeling. It gave me great comfort and I'm so grateful that your wise words.

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