A handful of coworkers are at a conference this week. I could have filled my day with catching up, but then it hit me… I’ll never be caught up. So instead of trying, I took a personal day and left the two littlest with the babysitter. Now I’m practicing as much self-control as I can muster to avoid the pursuit of productivity in order to engage in one of my favorite forms of therapy… reflecting and writing.
Four words keep coming to mind: I AM NOT ENOUGH
That has reverberated in my head and heart more times than I can count over the past few months. It’s no wonder. Ben and I have taken a lot of risks over the past year. We each have new jobs, and we welcomed our fourth baby, Mary. Those were pretty big leaps, but it wasn’t until we moved over the summer into a house that is ripe with opportunity (in other words, full of projects) that I found myself struggling to keep my head above water.
Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to dialing back my timeline for tackling big things, for getting ahead. I’ve reduced one expectation after another. Easter egg dyeing? Not this year. Birthday parties for the kids? Not that either. Carving pumpkins? Not a chance. None of those are make or break in the scheme of life (although I’m quickly adding to the list of grievances my children can take to their counselors one day). I’m over keeping up with the Joneses and fulfilling everyone’s wildest hopes and dreams. However, the past few months have left me actually incapable of tackling some of the basics…like feeding my children.
I realize that I got myself into this situation (which is a huge bummer because it would be a lot more fun to blame someone else).
When my blessings and challenges are tallied up, I don’t have a thing to complain about.
Regardless, I’m still in over my head. I don’t have what it takes to thrive right now, let alone to survive. I’m tapped out. I’m tired. I’m disappointing people left and right. I AM NOT ENOUGH.
As I’ve been facing that, Ben has clarified an important truth to our team at work: Even when we give 100%, it’s no better than 80% of what is required for excellence. It’s been pushing our team to be collaborative, to lean on one another and to not shoulder the burdens alone.
That’s a truth I need to apply to all areas of my life. I’ll keep showing up with the best I have to offer…and it won’t be enough. Recognizing that is a huge first step. Filling in the gaps to get close to 100% is the next. Here’s how I’m moving in that direction:
- I’m reducing my expectations even more.
My kids need clothes, but they don’t have to match. I am not the perfect mother.
My husband needs a listening ear, but I can’t provide it every night. I am not the perfect wife.
My team at work needs care, but I won’t be able to provide all of it. I am not the perfect leader.
- I’m relying on others more.
I’m letting my Mom and sister make my family dinner more often than ever.
I’m asking Ben to help with the kids more than I’d prefer (especially knowing he’s overwhelmed as well).
I’m asking friends for grace in the spaces where I fail.
- I’m setting a deadline for improving my wellbeing.
Reducing my consumption of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snyder’s White Corn Tortilla Chips and exercising need to happen. Those and other changes require more than I have to give today, but they can’t be avoided forever. I’m setting dates to make sure this season doesn’t become my constant.
- I’m trusting God to fill in the gaps.
Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Each time I become frantic (multiple times per day), I remember who is capable enough to make up for all of my shortcomings.
My win is not reaching 100% all by my lonely; I need help. I AM NOT ENOUGH, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.