Lately I’ve noticed a striking similarity between learning to blog and learning to parent. Most notably, both require exceptional amounts of self-grace because both seem to result in exceptional amounts of expectation adjustments.
(And I’m pretty sure that I just made up the term “self-grace,” so if you’ve never heard it before, don’t feel like you are out of the loop. The idea is that both require me to have a lot of grace for myself. Radical.)
As some of you may remember, I had high hopes when I started this blog. I thought long and hard about why I wanted to write and figured that by the fall I’d be writing at least twice a week, if not more often. I’d have guest bloggers and would be writing at other blogs and on my way to a book deal.
I now feel lucky if I can get out one moderately good post a week, and even many of those don’t live up to my perfectionist-every-word-must-be-absolutely-right standards.
And I’m realizing that it’s okay.
I’m doing the best that I can. And so I extend grace to myself. I forgive myself for not living up to my own expectations, my own standards. I realize that doing the best I can is enough.
And I realize that no one else cares. No one else looks at their calendar and thinks, You know, Leah started that blog and she said she’d be writing twice a week. Well, she didn’t write at all for about a month during the summer and now she only posts once a week.
I care more than everyone else does. And so I am learning to have grace for myself. To acknowledge that I’m working hard, very hard, every day. I’m managing a household and juggling two little kids and trying to fix meals and do laundry and meet my other writing deadlines and keep up my viola playing. And I’m also learning to rest when I’m tired, to take naps when the kids nap and to say to myself, It’s okay that all those things on the list didn’t get done today. There is just enough time for the things that are the most important.
And I realize that I do get the practicing done when I need to practice, and finish the articles before they are due, and that if I don’t write that networking email or thank-you card or blog post, it’s okay. I will get around to it all (or I won’t), and in the meantime, I’m dedicating the greatest part of my energy to my two little ones.
And that’s okay.
I’m constantly learning the same lesson in my mothering. I can’t say that I wake up motivated and inspired for each day (most often I wake up dead-tired), but I do have high hopes for our time. For art projects and at-home preschool and counting and alphabet games and cooking together and New York City field trips.
And my expectations are not just about the things that we’ll do, but also about the way the time feels. I want ALL of our time to be quality time. No fighting, arguing, or whining, and no frustration or tantrums or I’m-at-the-end-of-my-rope-please-come-home-soon-even-if-you-can-only-stay-an-hour text messages to my husband.
Reality, however, is a different story.
Most weeks I reach the end of my rope at least a couple of times, and most days include some amount of arguing, whining, frustration, and tantrums. And that’s okay too.
Grace for myself.
It’s okay if I eat a pint of ice cream (every once in awhile) during naptime because the morning was terrible or give up on my preschool plans for a fall art project and just hang out inside doing silly dances with my son. It’s okay if sometimes, instead of writing another blog post, I spend an hour singing to my daughter and making her laugh, just her and me.
I am an overachiever (surprise! Bet you didn’t see that one coming). And yet, as a mom, I have to be okay with less. With getting less done, with enjoying the moments more.
And also, I have to be okay with what feels like failure.
It feels like failure when Jacob doesn’t sit still and pay attention at preschool coop and it feels like failure when I yell at him for dumping hummus and cucumber on the floor even if I’m not totally sure he did it intentionally. It feels like failure when I try to do a project with him and he isn’t ready for it and it feels like failure when he doesn’t like something that I cook. It feels like failure when my daughter’s feed-wake-sleep cycles are not perfect and like failure when she spits up an entire meal.
But it isn’t.
It isn’t failure. It’s just a part of motherhood. And a part of learning to parent. There’s a lot of trial and error. And it’s all okay. Grace for myself. I’m doing the best that I can. And that’s enough.