"On my honor, I shall try..."
These are the words that have been floating around my house lately, since all four of my grade-school aged children have decided to join their gender and age appropriate scouting group. A flurry of meetings and uniform shopping trips later, I am taking a small moment to step outside of myself and take my own pulse.
Four different aged children joining Scouts the same year means that this busy momma went from pull-my-hair-out crazy to are-you-still-breathing? One of the promises that Scouts make is to do your best. In between early morning baby feedings and laundry folding evenings, I have been contemplating this concept.
For each of my children and step-children, doing your best has different expectations. For some of my kids that means getting consistent A's on everything done at school, following directions every time and generally behaving well. For one child it means making sure that shirts and pants go in separate drawers and that most of the dinner served makes it into his mouth and not on his clothes or the ground. Most parents can relate to these different expectations for their children doing their best, and are proud to see when these moments happen, and upset when it is not often enough.
But as a parent, what does it mean to do your best? Does it mean that you are the number one crafty parent, who always decorates lunch sacks, and birthday party planning with gusto, utilizing the opportunity to try items pinned to your boards on Pinterest? Does it mean that sometimes you just have to make it through today and fall into your bed at night? Does doing your best mean that you can have the most productive day and still have your house look like a tornado hit it? Does it mean you only serve organic food to your family? Does it mean that everyone ate their food, took a bath, and no one was seriously hurt? Does it mean that your kids came home with perfect report cards? Is it a combination of the above?
Sometimes at the end of the day, I feel discouraged about my family's behavior, the state of my house, or the notes that came home from school. Where is my report card, I wonder. I took the kids to four meetings, and three doctor's appointments. I made dinner 4 nights so far this week, supervised homework every night, 16 showers, did eight loads of laundry and ten loads of dishes. I shopped for uniforms, groceries, scrubbed the bathrooms. I emailed teachers, I signed permission slips and filled out paperwork. I swapped out three dressers from summer to winter clothing. I worked two nights. I started building a web page. Is that my best? Could I do more?
If there is more that I can do, where can I do it? Will it make me feel as if I am doing my best, or will I be spread out too thin to make it all work? Is it truly such a vicious cycle?
Being a stay-at-home mom is not an easy task. It does not allow as many grading opportunities as being the career mom that I used to be. There aren't any meetings with the boss that state that the flow of the office is good or bad. There aren't any annual raises and there aren't any memos sent outlining new policies. It is easy in an office environment to always know where you are succeeding and what your best is. Not so much at home.
When you step back and analyze yourself, where can you make improvements? When doing your best, do you notice others taking notice? How do you grade yourself on your best?
When was the last time you sat down and promised your kids to do your best? You always expect it of them, isn't it fair that they should expect if of you? Do you know what your best potential is?
I know I have been discussing it often, with all of the talk of Scouts and providing examples of my best work. How else do kids learn what their best is, if you don't show them yours?