Every year during the summer we go to a bunch of places and have a pretty great time together. I post about the things we do with the intention of motivating others to get out and experience life. I never intend to brag or shove our happiness down the throats of others or make others feel like we are winning some weird life competition. A comment that I've seen a few times on my posts reads, "You are such a good mom!" or some other variance of the statement. This. Makes. Me. Cringe. Please forgive my lack of grace in accepting this compliment, I just don't think its fair. No, I don't think I'm a bad mom, but I don't think of my adventures with Logan as making me any better than a mom who is unable to go to these places. I only have one child. I am a teacher which means I am free during the summer. This is not the case for the majority of the people I know. Some moms have full time jobs. Some have more than one child. Some have other things keeping them from travel and/or local adventures. I can participate in these summer adventures because of the circumstances God has placed me in.
So often we look at other people and compare their lives to our own without understanding the trade offs they make. For example, we travel a lot. When we fly, we fly Delta and stay at any variation of Hilton hotels. This is great and I'm happy to be a loyal customer of both, thanks to the loyalty points collected through business travel. As a family we've been to Paris, Disney, and other places and it's fabulous. But the cost of this is my husband's constant business travel. During a few months last year, thankfully non-consecutive, he was home less than seven days. This gets frustrating for many reasons, but we live this way because it works for us. Our travel allows us to reconnect and grow as a family and Jason's hard work pays the bills.
For some families, dealing with a parent traveling wouldn't work. They would be unwilling to deal with the stress or unable due to a variety of unique issues. That doesn't mean either family is better. Jason's failure to be home every night allows us to have the success of being a family that travels. For some people they are happy to fail to travel but enjoy the success of being home together every night. There's a trade off.
This trade off applies to everything. If I run a marathon I miss out on time I wanted to spend with family and friends. If I spend time with family and friends I give up my chance to run a marathon. If I spend a day cleaning and caring for my home, I miss a coffee date out with my friend. If I go for coffee with a friend, I miss out of time necessary to care for and clean my home. In these four examples there isn't anything better than another. I like running. I like spending time with family and friends. I like having a clean home. I like coffee dates with friends. But I can't have it all.
Marketing and our social media feeds makes us think we can have it all. We see the highlights of the lives of others but rarely see their struggles. We. Can. Not. Have. It. All. It's just not possible. Women's magazines or family themed magazines like Parents offer parenting hacks or how to balance work and life, but the cover images show families smiling and happy with clean and organized kids. We're usually pretty cleaned up for my Instagram posts too.
A little behind the scenes view of my social media:
Me: Logan, smile. Logan. LOGAN!
Logan: I am.
Me: No, not like that. You look like you're in pain. Come on. We're doing this cool thing together. Just SMILE!
Logan: (looking like he's holding in a fart).
Me: Aughhhh!!!!! (this makes him laugh).
Me: Caption photo "Just an easy going day at ______. So much fun."
Please tell me I'm not the only one. Please.
One book that has influenced me and given me courage to be bold and pursue my writing is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I do not agree with everything that Shonda says, but her writing style, personality, and personal challenges deeply connect with me. On June 8, 2014, she gave the Dartmouth commencement address in which she addressed the question, "How do you do it all?" This was her answer.
"I don't. Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life.
Even that seemingly unattainably perfect woman described in Proverbs 31 made trade offs. She was not always there for her family. Look at the passage. She's buying land, she's making and selling garments, she's amazing. Verse 21 says, "She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed. " I imagine that just as she's sitting down with her sewing a little one begins demanding her attention. "Not now, little one. Mama is working on warm clothes for us. I said, NOT NOW." Okay, maybe she wouldn't raise her voice, but I imagine she was firm and when the snow came she could say, "See, that's why I worked so hard. Now you are nice and cozy warm." Maybe they would grudgingly acknowledge her work as young children, but as they grew up they understood her incredible work ethic and appreciated her. She works hard and verse 31 says, "Give her the reward of her labor and let her words praise her at the city gates." She made choices and she is praised for her work. Part of her diligent teaching was training her children to figure things out for themselves. Success. Failure.
This is the key to intentional living. Evaluating why we do things. Recognizing the successes and the failures and accepting those choices and their consequences. I'm trying to teach Logan this. Sometimes he wants to two things that are occurring at the same time. Both are good choices, but it is only possible to do one. I think it's important for him to see those success and failures instead of me giving him the impression that either of us can do it all. It's not always easy, but that's life.
I hope I didn't discourage you today. Being a success and a failure is hard, but if you accept the choices it can be very rewarding. Stand strong! Be an example to those within your circle of influence by admitting that you can't do it all. I'll go first. I'm Edy, and I'm a success because I'm a failure.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."