Sunday, March 11, 2007

Doing My Best?

I'm at extremist by nature. I'll admit that right up front. I can be nice and forgiving and excusing of lots of things from others, but for myself, not so much. My tendency is to be hard on myself, to self-critique a lot. I don't know if that's good or bad. It just is.

Today I was watching something about mothers and there was a situation where a mother had chosen to not spend much time with her child. The child was therefore extremely attached to the nanny, and seemed not very attached to the mother.

The comment was made that all mothers "do the best they can."

And that got me thinking.....

Is that true?

Do we really do the best we can??

Now, before you get all defensive on me...let's think about this.

If a mother knowingly chooses to not spend hardly any time with her child by choice (not because she has to!), and the child suffers for lack of connection and time with the mother--is the mother really doing the best that she can? To me, it seems like the answer is no. No, the mother *could* do better--but chooses not to.

I have met mothers who, when finding out that my family does not watch TV, said to me, "You know, I think that is a really smart thing you are doing. And I think my family would be better off without TV too. But you know what? I'm not willing to do it. I just don't want to put my energy into it. But I should...."

Now, I don't care whether she has a TV or not. But it was interesting to me that she would said, "That would be a better choice, but I'm not willing to do that."

So, is she doing the best she can? I guess she told me that she isn't.

Now, we could get into the whole "better for who?" question. I'm not dying to spend a ton of time on this. I'm mainly turning this around to ask myself, "Am I doing the best I can? Are the choices I'm making the best ones for my family?"

Possibly the answers to these questions would vary from day to day. Some day I feel like I'm doing all I can. Other days I know I'm falling short of most ideals or goals I ever set for myself in this parenting arena. My hormones feel so whacked out that, although I have a few good days every month where I feel like I could climb parenting mountains in a single bound, the rest of the days find my mood vacillating between very stressed out, to unhappy, to nearly murderous. So, even though on sunshiny days I feel like I could do more, Could I really?? I'm not sure about that.

I had to ask myself, "Is doing my utter best 100% of the time the goal I should be striving for?" Part of me feels like God does expect that from us. Another part of me feels like that's just too much pressure for people to thrive under. How could I live if I never allowed myself down time, room to slack off, or wiggle room for mistakes?

On the other hand, How will I feel down the road when my children are grown if I look back and feel that I squandered my opportunities to be a better mother, lead them better, teach them better, help them more?

Do I want to look back and have to say to myself, "I did the best I could?" and try to make myself believe it even if it's a lie?

What exactly *is* "the best we can do"? Is it giving 110% all of the time, like you would if your child's life depended on you doing something superhuman to save their life? (Can we live like that?!) Is doing the best we do just getting along, keeping afloat, doing what we can, and not stressing about all of if?

Back in the days when I thought I was doing the best I could do, I eventually managed to burn myself so badly that I had to quit most of the nice good things I was doing just to get myself pulled back together over the course of several years. Now the pieces are back together, but I don't know what to do with myself at this point. I mean, if I'm not falling apart trying to be a perfect Christian homeschooling mother, should I get back on that track until I burn out again? Or do I stay on another path that has allowed me to regain some semblance of sanity, and trust that being sane and having some space in my life is actually a good thing, and qualifies me in the "Did the best she could" mothering category?

Does doing the best I can mean that none of us really, truly knows the perfect way to get life done? So we all just muddle along, fitting the pieces together as best we can and hope for the best?

I know some people like to believe that they have a handle on the Right Way to be parents, to educate their children, and all that jazz. Frankly, I've been there, done that, and don't buy it any more. There is not one formula that will give you the best outcome.

Which leads me back to wonder and I doing the best I can?



I'm not sure.

I think so.


1 comment:

Susan said...

The key words for me here are that we sometimes THINK we know what's "best" for everyone else...and we (as a Christian community) judge other mothers. I have a problem with THAT! So, the question needs to be totally I doing the best that I can do for my children? And if not, what areas do I need to change?

Great thoughts!!

:-) Susan