Friday, September 18, 2009

How I Measure

Last night I was exhausted. It was one of those days. The kind where you go and go, but at the end of the day you feel like you're back where you started. In my tired daze, I decided to make a list of all I had done with my day. I think I was trying to prove to myself that I had actually done something.

In order of my day--
  • 3 doctor appointments (I know, it sounds crazy. Addie met with 2 different doctors, Makell met with 1. Slightly long story). Because of these appointments, these two were home all day.
  • Physically held a screaming Addie down while the nurse pulled down her pants and gave her a flu shot in her thigh.
  • Bought Addie and Makell happy meals because I was trying to bribe them to like me.
  • Waited at Walgreens for Makell's antibiotic.
  • Took my kids with me to buy groceries--something I try to avoid at all cost.
  • Unloaded groceries and put everything away while checking on Todd who is home with the lay-on-the-couch-and-feel-like-death flu.
  • Helped the girls make a cake.
  • Cut out laminated items for Addie's teacher.
  • Finished the newsletter for the PTO.
  • Homework with Addie.
  • Helped Makell study for 3 different tests.
  • Whipped up a homemade beef stew for dinner.
  • Cleaned up dinner.
  • Vacuumed.
  • Attended a church leadership meeting from 7:30-9:15 pm.
After my long day of go, go, go, I was right back where I started, and this was all I could look at:

The massive piles on my counter. I know it doesn't look like much, but that's because everything is stacked on top of each other. Each house has a dumping ground. And this is mine. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to keep it clean. Just as I am finally taking care of the last piece of paper, another stack gets dumped. Some days I feel like I'm drowning in this pile.

Normally I look at this chaotic mess and tell myself that I've got to work harder at keeping up with all the crap. This pile is what I use to measure my success. On the days that it looks like this, I feel like a failure. On the days where a miracle occurs and it's clean, I feel like a success. And I doubt that I'm the only mother who does this. We judge ourselves by what we DON'T get done. Why do we do that?

As I looked at this pile last night, I thought about the list I had made earlier. My long list. Each item represented something I did for my family or my church calling. Each item was done because I loved them enough to focus on them, and not my pile.

I thought about the Young Women theme. As I recited it in my head, I couldn't find even one reference to my worth being attached to clean kitchen counters. Instead, I found that I am a loved daughter of God with individual worth. I thought about all of the great Conference talks I have listened to. Not once can I recall being told to increase my diligence in house cleaning or pile clearing. Instead, I recalled being told to love and nurture this eternal family I have been given.

I thought about all the great moms I know. They have piles just like mine. And you know what, I never notice them. I only notice how good they are at being a mom and being a good friend. I also thought of my own mother and her continued advice to "slow down because it all flies by too fast." Never once has my mom told me to take more time cleaning my house. But she has told me to take time to enjoy what I've been given.

Maybe we measure the wrong things. Maybe we focus on the stuff that is less important. And maybe, just maybe, there is so much more that matters than a clean counter.

We go, and go, and go. And you know what? We are right back where we started. Home. With piles and chaos and disruptive behavior. It is still Home. It is still Love. It is still worth all our effort. That's immeasurable.


Todd said...

Whahoo, does this mean I get my piles back?

Simpson Family said...

Needed that one...Thank you, Thank you and love you lots too!

Rani said...

Wiping tears from my eyes. Boy, was I in need of that validation today. Thanks for the inspirational insight!

penny.coleman said...

You are still the smartest woman I know. Don't ever change.
My dad always said, "Quit trying to do it all, You can't get it all done anyway, so just slow down."

embeesea said...

wow...thanks for the wisdom. I really needed that today.

Taryn said...

Very well said, as usual! Thanks, i needed to hear that.

Kristin said...

Loved this post!!! So true, and said so well! I'm going to go smile at my piles, thanks to you.

The Webb Family said...

Ohhhh, I needed this. I feel like this a lot. Even though I recite the YW theme weekly--I forget, thanks for the reminder! :)