A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with one of my sisters about her kids’ report cards, and how while the actual letter grades are valuable, the comments are by far more important. Grades are a tough thing – you look and compare, seeing where you’ve failed. But those comments show a whole different story – they talk about respect, about effort. You know – the things that matter.
I was told growing up, and have raised my kids the same, to just to do my best. That’s all. If that means a C- in math, but a A for effort, good work. I mean, really, you can only do your best, right? How do you do better? Besides, that’s all God is asking for – my best, so who am I to ask my kids for more?
But, now I’m wondering, how does this translate into adult life? How do I do my best at everything, when there’s just so many things? When do I get to just say “good enough” and leave it at that?
That doesn’t work in my marriage. This is an area where when the effort isn’t being put in, when I’m not bringing my best, it shows very, very quickly. And it shows in unpleasant ways – disconnection, sharp comments, lack of patience.
Parenting – wow, definitely can’t go halfway on that. Being a good mom means being on my A-game all the time! Being a mom of teenagers, I feel that’s ramped up even more. Where do you get to give a little? I have one finding her way through what life looks like after school, one who has decided he’s old enough to date, and one who flies under the radar so quietly, it’s easy to forget he’s there.
Work? Don’t think so. First of all, I am definitely not getting paid to only put in half-effort. And while I’m very aware that everyone is replaceable, there is a lot depending on me, so I need to bring it all. Besides, let’s think about what I do for a minute – our clients deserve my best, don’t they? They come to us, looking for help during a time of crisis – that deserves 100%.
My work at home has definitely been getting some “good enough” treatment lately, and it shows. The kids have been cleaning, which is so appreciated, but it could use some TLC. Making meals? Ugh, don’t get me started. Unfortunately, when you’re feeding someone with an eating disorder, just “good enough” doesn’t cut it. She needs 100% effort.
What about with other people? In addition to being a wife and mother, I’m also a daughter, sister, friend…that means that I have a responsibility to these people too. To be there for them, to be interested and involved.
Taking care of myself? Yeah, that is definitely not getting 100%. And anyone who’s seen me knows that’s not working out too well for me.
I can’t even bring 100% to God, the one who truly deserves it. Prayers are dashed off on the go, time in the Word is an audio Bible while I’m getting ready in the morning.
All of this to say that I’m not doing my best at anything. And I don’t like it. It’s not how I like to operate, giving a half-hearted effort at everything. I’ve given stuff up in an effort to clear up some time – hobbies don’t exist anymore, my piano is dusty and out of tune, I even withdrew from my classes this semester because I just couldn’t do it. This is my first blog post since last fall, so apparently I’ve given this up too.
Where do I get to say “good enough”? There’s so many things, so many different places I need to be giving 100%….and I’m just tired. I can’t.
So, does it mean that this is my “new best”? I’m giving everything I have, so that must be my best?
I don’t know. Doesn’t feel like it. And I don’t really like it.