Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Striving for Contentment

I've been feeling totally overwhelmed and sort of depressed lately - so many people who seem to need too much from me, so many things I really want to do and do well that just don't get done (visiting teaching, cleaning the house, doing things I committed to do for PTA, doing as much as I should do for the young women - and my primary concern - being the sort of mom and wife that I want to be), so many of my hopes and expectations of myself and others unfulfilled every day. I've had so many days lately when I feel like I've accomplished so little from my long to-do list and that I haven't done anything meaningful in the serendipity category either - I've just dealt with messes, thrown something together for dinner, done the bare minimum of cleaning and laundry, barely got homework done, yelled a lot at the kids, ignored their pleas for attention while dealing with in-your-face type needs (food spilled, water all over the bathroom, invitations that had to be printed out for the neighborhood party, a cake that had to be made for the ward party...) and been overly critical of Jared.

I thought I'd come up with a great solution to giving myself a mood-lift and work out and doing something fun with the kids by taking them on envigorating walks (uphill walks with the twins in their double stroller and Liza on her bike setting a fast pace are a really serious workout). And it has helped keep me away from the brink this last week to get a walk in most days. But my walks weren't exactly a cure-all - time for walking takes away time for other things and I feel extra overwhelmed by the piles of mail and laundry and long to-do lists that await me when I get home. I'm realizing a lot of sort of hard things about myself and about life in general lately. Life is good and I have so very very much to be grateful for. But life is hard - mostly because I've made it that way- I've chosen so many of the things that overwhelm me. I can't seem to help but keep choosing to do things that someone ought to do and no one else seems to feel like doing. I keep trying to weed out the things that aren't important so I can do a better job of a few things. But what can I really give up? I'm always so glad that I did things when the craziness is over and I think I'd feel worse about myself and more isolated and depressed if I wasn't using my abilities and talents to do quite a few things.

I've realized this week that I really need to learn how to be content - content with what I can get done, content with my imperfect kids and husband, content with my imperfect attempts to do good things, content with walking away from some things that I don't have time for (and not giving myself a huge guilt trip about everything I just don't do well or don't do at all), content with all that is good and nice in my life. I need to love all that is good and nice rather than sort of shrugging it off because it isn't fabulous or extraordinary. This is hard for me. I've been brought up to NOT be content - to always be striving for more, to be always expecting the best of myself and others ("good is the enemy of best"), to be reaching for ever-higher goals.

I'm trying to strike a balance between hoping for and working towards a better world and understanding and accepting that things won't always work out how I envision - that "best" may not be what I envision it to be, that "best" might actually look like "good" to me a lot of the time. I don't know if this makes sense - I'm still trying to figure it out myself. I fully acknowledge that I have a wonderful life. I just need to learn to love what is while hoping for and patiently working towards what might be. And if anyone has any hints for me, I'd welcome them!


atec said...

You angel! I simple love how well you are able to express yourself.
This issue with contentment was the hardest thing I dealt with on my mission. I just always saw things I could do better or more. My mission president taught me something that took me a while to learn....It's fine to be discontent, but only if you are still generally happy. Take a step back and look at the hopes/expectations you give yourself that only make you miserable when you don't live up to them. Remove them for the time being (it's okay to say "I'll work on that later) and focus on those things where you can push yourself, but still be happy if you don't quite make it! Did that make sense?
I'm still not great at this, but it has helped me a lot, I'm sure it's harder to do with everything you already have on your plate. Good luck! You amaze me!

nickpan said...

I did a search for "striving for contentment" and found your blog post.

You've got a lovely family & its lovely because you are such a superwoman. I can't imagine what you go thru daily. I have 2 and its difficult already. Five in five years OMG, what a feat.

All the best from sunny Singapore.


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