Sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist. In my estimation, perfectionism has a happy side and a morose side; often, I find myself sucked into the latter. On the happy side, perfectionism enables us to create quality results in whatever we are doing. The morose side leads to a depressive attitude that screams inside my head, “If I don’t have the time or ability to make it or to be perfect at it, why try?” This is faulty reasoning. I know this, and I assume anyone reading this post knows this as well. However, knowing something is not true and treating something as not true are completely different habits.
This mental battle of try and fall short of perfect versus try and be content with my current best has resurfaced for me this school semester in a big way. Bringing the kids home to do remote schooling added a lot of responsibility to my daily routine, responsibility that I underestimated before the semester began. The new design suits our family well right now, but that did not lessen the adjustment time it took. Part of my perfectionistic mindset had somehow decided that, even though I was learning to balance work, school, being the chauffer to all the kids’ practices, building our homestead, and my other commitments, I would make sure we immediately jumped in full force back to that whole foods, from scratch for every meal, kind of kitchen. I was quickly overwhelmed.
I HAD a great plan, now. I would make homemade pizza one week, freeze one, and I would be good to go the next week. I could large batch cook things like soups for us to eat a couple of days in a row. When I cooked dinner, I would make enough extra for us all to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. But those kids. They ate more than just the one pizza! Every time! And, if I would make jambalaya (another family favorite), it would be their favorite thing that day but their least favorite the next when I had planned to feed them leftovers. I quickly learned that I would have to adjust my plans or lose my mind. Typically, our family is not sandwich eaters, but we are learning to enjoy them for lunch if we do not want leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. I do not want to feed my family microwave meals, but microwaveable shells and cheese have come to my rescue often in the past several weeks. This week, I digressed as far as to buy my kids the sugary, colorful cereal that is only in our house when family comes to town. Positive side note about that, you would have thought I won mom of the year for that grocery choice!
This week, I decided to give it up. If I want to balance all the things, I need to give myself grace with all the things. The Best is homegrown food, cooked slowly with fresh organic herbs and served on a beautifully set table with jovial conversation. The Best is spending hours preparing for commitments to arrive over-prepared. The Best is making sure 100% of the schoolwork is completed to 100% status, instruments are practiced, and the house is perfect. The Better is homecooked food, prepared with the best easily sourced ingredients in the area served at a well-set table. The Better is spending enough time to be familiar with information required to fulfill my commitment. The Better is making sure the schoolwork is completed and everything else is managed in a reasonable way. The Good is cooking my family dinner and catching up on everyone’s day as we sit and eat together. The Good is being prepared enough to show up to commitments as a contributor and letting go of the extra. The Good is making sure enough work to get a decent grade and decent progress is complete and not worrying about it beyond that.
I want to always strive for the Best in every category, but sometimes you must let it go. To save my sanity, I have opted for more of time-blocking approach for this season. I allot myself a specific amount of time for each task and complete it to the best of my ability to do so within that time frame. If I make it to what I feel qualifies for the Best category, life is peachy. If I only make it to what I would consider the Good category, it is still done and that is okay. I would never judge another person for simply doing their best with the constraints on their schedule, and I am training my brain to give myself the same respect. The homestead will be better for it, my kids will be happier for it, and our lives will be more peaceful for it.