I'm still going to plan menus BUT...

...you just can't do everything. Nope. No matter how hard you try or how late you stay up. And that is what God is teaching me today, right now.

Before I had two children, I used to be able to keep the house immaculate, cook lovely and delicious meals, serve them steaming hot and perfectly seasoned on a very stylishly decorated table. I could show up to dinner with a smile and makeup, wearing something other than workout attire (having already worked out and showered, of course). I could enjoy that delicious meal while talking about the challenges and successes of my day in corporate America, vent about how busy I was and leisurely enjoy my glass wine; I'd even have a few brain cells left to hear about Ryan's day. I'd then clean the kitchen and dishes (which wasn't hard, because it was already immaculate) and with a second glass of wine in hand, head for the sparkling clean bathroom, complete with freshly washed towels and an assortment of bath products. I would also manage our finances and do the laundry. Ryan never ran out of underwear and all the bills were always paid on time.

And then Charlie was born...and I went back to work 6 weeks later. And about 6 weeks after that, our water suddenly stopped working. Because the bill was late. And that was when reality really started to settle in, at first just a gentle whisper..."Emily, you can't do it all." But I kept trying. I kept trying all through Charlie's first year and a half of life, trying to be a 100% employee, 100% home manager, 100% mother and 100% wife. And when I realized that wasn't working, I switched to part-time, kept trying to juggle everything. And then Elliot was born and we moved 4 times in 3 months (Augusta to Savannah Apt, Augusta to PODs, Apt to house, PODs to house) and Ryan's job is much busier and this new house requires more work to maintain and Charlie is very two and requiring lots of "management" and Elliot is needing solid foods and on and on and on...And I'm still wearing myself out, almost in tears most days over the mess that doesn't go away, the dogs that refuse to obey, the almost-constant needs of the children, all the while knowing that this is not how it is supposed to be...

Don't get me wrong: I love my life. I'm honored that God has given me these children and a husband with a demanding job; I love having this much responsibility and I'm much two controlling not to run our house. :) I wouldn't change a thing. And most of the time, this inward struggle towards perfection is not even noticeable to those around me. I just keep smiling (most of the time), all the while thinking of what I should be doing and how what I've just done is not enough. But really it is enough. So today, right now, this week, I'm going to start working towards being able to let things go. Let the dishes sit in the sink for longer than 5 minutes. Let the dog hair sit on the floor and ignore the banana-smeared high chair. Because there are babies to enjoy and a 2 year old who needs to see joy, peace and patience modeled for him, not just discussed. This quote from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People spoke to me:

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. - Goethe

So with God's help, I want to relax; let things go; do the most important things, the ones that will matter for eternity. And let the other things go. It's not going to be easy, but I'm going to try. Jill would call this femcha and I'm going to join the fight against it!

So back to menu planning: I'm still going to do it but meal preparation is my first area of attack. So for the near future, we're going to be eating very simple meals: salad and baked potatoes, grilled chicken and veggies and old stand-by casseroles like my mom's Poppyseed Chicken. We'll see how it goes!

And since I'm going to stop stressing so much about the house and meals, maybe I'll have time to figure out my new camera and actually post some pictures!


Candace Piepgrass said...

What a wonderful and honest post Emily!! I think we as mothers and as women all feel that need for perfection, which we all know is impossible. I'm not perfect either and Stephen and I often eat dinner at 9:00PM because I just can't get it prepared before Caroline goes to bed. I think you have to let some things go and realize your children are only young once and you won't get that time back. Bravo to you for acknowledging your imperfections and realizing that time with your children is more important.

WASPy Girl said...

Just Say No to femcha. Keep fighting the good fight.

Upon getting overly stressed about some of my responsibilities, I decided to remove layers of unnecessary complication--For example, I've stopped clipping coupons and broke my resolution to try one new recipe every week (femcha).

At work, I've decided not to go forward with plans for a field trip, conference, etc. when I felt that things were getting too overwhelming.

I guess the key is knowing your limits. If you are too stressed, then it's time to cut back and eliminate femcha wherever possible.

Libby & Colin said...

I hear you, Emily. I'm there too. Can life with 2 boys (+ always-working husband) ever be "tidy"? Doubtful :)

Sarahbeth said...

I love this honest post! I'm right there with you! When jess gets home we'll have y'all over for an office party. . . we'll buy a pizza from sams and some beer. . . you can sit

Marlo said...

Pumping my fist in the air right now! Down with Femcha! (still love that word, btw)
And if your comments here don't encourage you that we're all right there with you, then I will next time I see you. You are doing an awesome job and just the fact that you recognize these tendencies vs. priorities is cause for congratulations.