He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9


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It's Okay

Yesterday morning I was switching a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer.  It was another good morning, without chaos.  It was about 7 am and my kids were upstairs, dressed and fed (or feeding) and happily making posters for the upcoming student council election at school.

And a moment washed over me.  I knew getting that load of laundry switched over in the morning was a good thing, the kind of thing that keeps a house running.  And it feels good, this feeling of being on top of the laundry.   But then a bit of sadness hit me.

I remember realizing that my mom just didn't seem to struggle with keeping up with laundry.  She went down to the lowest of 4 levels in our huge, gorgeous, tidy home each morning and put a load in, just as easy as breathing (it seems).  She had us fold clothes and match socks together on her bed.  She made us re-use towels more than once and not put our clothes in the laundry if they weren't really dirty.  I have felt sad, before, in moments of being buried under mountains of multi-toddler laundry, that even though I try to do all that, I wasn't quite so with it.  How did she do it so effortlessly and why am I such a doofus?

And although I feel more in control of the laundry situation in my life right now (thanks to a double capacity washer and a load-a-day effort), I still get behind.  Sometimes WAY behind.  All it takes is a couple of back-to-back trips out of town or a few days of pregnancy nausea and exhaustion and before you know it, no one has clean socks and the basement laundry sorter is overflowing.  But it's okay.  Really okay!   I always catch up. (It took me 2 major laundry days this week, but my family once again has clean socks.)

And I just had this moment of giving myself an "it's okay" hug.  And I wanted to give you one, too.  I'm silly and pregnant, but I'm crying now as I write it.  Because it's so easy to beat ourselves up over so many things.  I don't just mean the silly Pinterest-Perfection craze.  I mean regular, every-day, important stuff that we sometimes just don't get done or do wrong.  I had one of those moments this morning as I put baggies of unhealthy corn chips into lunch boxes.....  "Stupid, empty calories.  Not an ounce of nutrition.  I wish I could send carrot sticks and pita/hummus wedges and have lunch pails come home empty.  What have I done wrong?  How could I work so hard and still be such a failure?"

That's the kind of beating-up we sometimes do to ourselves.

And that's why I want to give us all a hug.  It's okay if we don't always keep up.  It's okay if our kids occasionally have to wear dirty socks while we catch up on laundry.  Or (heaven forbid) we send Koolaid and Twinkies in their lunches because we didn't quite get the whole-wheat-zucchini brownies made this week.

All of us are getting at least some things right.

And this is a season.

And it doesn't really matter about that mother of 7 you know whose house looks like a magazine and kids look like models.  She's not you!  She's certainly not me.  But the me that I am is working hard and getting the important things right (at least some of the time.)  And as my kids get a little older and I no longer have multiple toddlers and am enjoying some longer stretches of time to get things done, I realize that this is always going to be a big job, but that someday (like they all say) these little feet will move to bigger places.  And they won't care how perfect I was.  They will care how happy and present I was.

Heaven forbid that I harshly criticize another mom for what she does or doesn't do with her home or kids.  She is learning just like me.  Balancing and failing and growing.  And I hope you never hear me apologize if one of my online pictures has a basket of laundry in it.  My world has laundry.  Always.  Deal with it.

I am trying to accept the fact that it's okay that life brings cycles of order and chaos.  And almost never has times when it's all order and no chaos..there is usually a bit of both going on.

I want to spend less energy feeling sad about what isn't perfect and more energy just enjoying the days and accepting the growth and constant-ness of it all.  I don't want to (emotionally) waste these years worrying and fretting and feeling like a failure.  I want to look back and remember that I cherished the playdoh and kisses and stories and projects and meals with a table surrounded with little faces. 

So I'm just reminding myself that it's okay.  And we are doing a good job!  For some reason we don't hear it very often - I think we mostly hear the messages we conjure ourselves from the very un-real images that bombard us online.  (Closets so organized that there are only 2 colors of coordinated clothes in the whole closet?  Really?!)  Or we hear criticism or disapproval ringing in our memory/imagination.  Or we hear our own voices criticizing ourselves.

But I just wanted to say to myself - and to us - that I think we're doing okay.  And we should relax and enjoy it.  That's all.

Leah said...

Sarah, where were you 20 years ago??? This blog rang true with me and how I used to feel all the time when my kids were home! I will be honest and say I enjoy actually having all the laundry done and no dirty dishes in the sink but yet I miss the noise sometimes! However, my adult kids tend to remember the fun and games and good memories while I tend to dwell on the mistakes I made! Apparently, the "mess" only bothered me! :))

sarahmfry said...

Leah, you're such a kindred spirit. : )

That is what I am trying to work through and remind myself of regularly - realizing that just because this job is constant (and sometimes hard) doesn't mean I'm doing it wrong. And that the laundry or desk piles aren't what the kids will remember.

Anonymous said...

Very good! Such a great reminder! Thank you for this! It's easy to load ourselves down with guilt. I mean,my goodness, yesterday I felt guilty for wasting the coffee I made! Haha!

Andy said...

This was right down my alley today. Joel had to wear the underwear he were yesterday cuz I'm that behind. *sigh*

Keith and Crystal said...

I needed this today.....as I'm sitting on the couch, listening to Dave Ramsey and folding my mountain. :)

Roseanne Evans said...

So very well said! The great expectations we have of ourselves...sigh! Thanks for the encouragement! It's so helpful to know we aren't the only ones struggling with these things.

Stephanie Burley said...

Don't know if it's new or if I'm just noticing, but I love the family pic in your header.
Also comforted knowing that it was ok for me to leave for school this morning with three hampers full of clean, waiting-to-be-folded clothes sitting in my living room. TGIF! :-)

sarahmfry said...

Andrea, You made me laugh out loud!! I'm sure Joel loves that we're sitting here reading about that. I'm cackling.

Kendra - I've felt guilty for dumping out unused coffee too. Funny - of all the things to feel bad about.

Thanks, Stephanie - I felt relieved that today was Friday too!

Roseanne - I am trying to grow up and realize that it's okay to be where I am - even if I am alone. But it sure does help when I realize I'm NOT!

Crystal - I love to listen while I work....and watch a "mommy" video while I fold laundry. I have even been known to wait until there were several loads to fold so that I could watch a little longer while I fold : )

Leah said...

Sarah, I think your comments may turn into "confession" but I have been known to drag all the clean laundry into the living room, look at three kids and tell them if they wanted to watch anything whatsoever, they could only do it while the laundry got folded. :)) What a mean mother I was back then! :))
I have LOVED reading the above comments though - kind of made my day!! :))

Katrina said...

I LOVE reading your blog. So honest. So where I am right now. (I have been on top of my laundry recently though. Not sure what happened but rejoicing in that little victory.) Thanks for the encouragement!

Alanna said...

Thank you for this Sarah. I'm not a mom, but a teacher. I needed this today. :) And you are doing so many many things right. :)

The Dickinsons said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Dickinsons said...

Dearest Sarah, I wish I could blame my goofy comment that I left on your blog this morning on something, like I'm pregnant or SOMETHING...but I was leaving 2 different comments at the same time. One on your blog, and one on a blog of someone that I went to GBS with, and haven't talked to for ages! You can imagine my SHOCK when I came back to make another comment on your blog, and realized I had put her comment on your blog. HELP! (You can roll your eyes and laugh with me now!=) So, I've deleted that comment off of your blog. Sorry!

Here's what I was meaning to say,
Thanks for the HUG, I needed it. This was a great post! I don't often feel "on top" of my laundry...what with 5 children and NO DRYER...but you are right...It's Okay! =) I try to keep my focus on enjoying these moments we have with our children...for they grow so fast. I can hardly believe that our Kimberly is nearly 15. WOW! I want our children, when they are grown and gone, to remember the fun times! Even when those FUN TIMES include folding the MOUNTAIN of clean clothes while listening to an Odessey or watching a wholesome video together. =)

I just posted a post on my blog, and quoted your Mother, so thought I'd tell you, if you want to stop by and read it. Your parents are such Dears and impacted my life for Jesus in a real way! =)
Blessings from a "drunk" ~Heather~ ;-)

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