|Some people have nice fire pits: we just use the basin from an old washing machine.|
I noticed this most recently as many home schoolers are happily finishing up lesson plans, posting photos of lovely, organized school rooms, well thought out menu plans, and schedules organized down to the moment. And here I sit, just enjoying summer, thoughts of the upcoming school year surfacing here and there but not taking up too much space.
This is when the ugly beast of Comparison sends in her twin, Condemnation. Condemnation comes to visit me a lot lately, and I'm trying for the life of me to not to let her in. Condemnation whispers, sometimes shouts at me: "You're not doing enough! You need to try harder! You're kids would be more obedient (happier, kinder) if only you were a better Mom. You suck! Her house is clean and she has twice as many kids as you. They would be better off with someone else. You send your kids to bed with dirty feet: your Mom never would have done that, and she had five kids! You haven't planned out the next school year yet! Dinner is late again?" And so on...
When I stop and think about these things, I can tell myself the truth. Sometimes I need someone else to tell me the truth, because Condemnation can get pretty noisy. The truth is, that yes, I fail. Sometimes I yell at my kids and get impatient with my husband and my house is a mess and I waste a lot of time and am not prepared for things the way I could be. But the bigger reality is Grace, Love covering a multitude of my imperfections. And I am me, not some woman from some blog with some other family.
My life is not yours, and I have no business comparing myself to you. On the other hand, I hope that you don't look at my life and hold it up next to yours. I have tried to write honestly about my struggles, but there are many things I haven't shared. Some hard things, things I hope to find the words to share soon.
I am slowly learning to walk in compassion, to look into my own heart and not to guess at what is in the heart of someone else. I can look at their well organized home, or their well planned school year, or their well behaved children and admire those things. But I need to remember that what I see of them is only one part of their life, and possibly the best part; they have struggles too, just like I do. It's okay that my school year isn't highly organized. I actually prefer planning one week at a time and adjusting the next week's plans to accommodate anything we didn't get to. (Which is pretty common!) Most of our learning really doesn't fit into a schedule or a plan anyway, and that's what works for our family. Going to bed with dirty feet isn't going to hurt my kids; in fact, they aren't a bit bothered by it! I don't do very well sticking to a strict schedule, but I do need to work on the rhythm of our days.
This is something that has been on my heart a lot lately. There's a lot of good stuff on the internet, wonderful ideas being shared by the million on blogs and websites. But none of us can do it all; we can only give thanks for what we're given and live in our own moments. I can do some things well, but not all things. I, with four young children, am in a different season of life than the mama who has older ones who can do more to help around the house. The dynamics in my family are created by the individuals that live here, now, with me, and it's going to look a lot different than yours. Each family has unique struggles and joys as well as their own areas of strength and weakness.
And so I will embrace life, the one given to me! (It is, after all, the only one I've got.) I will try to learn from others without being envious or comparing myself to them. I'll keep reading the blogs of other people who inspire me, keeping in mind that I'm only seeing one little facet of their life. I will give thanks for my children with their different personalities, my husband and all he is, my crazy, messy, sometimes hard, and joy filled life!