It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
~ Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship In A Republic
I came across this quote today through a blog linked to a blog which encourages women to believe their imperfections are beautiful. (I’ll leave a link to this blog – it seems like a site well worth the dissection time.)
I felt uncomfortably convicted after reading the first sentence. I am a criticizer to my family, I point out how my children and hubby have failed me or how they can do things better. I have high expectations. And why? After so many years of living with them, why can’t I realize that my expectations and desires are not going to be met in the way I believe they should be all the time? Why can’t I find satisfaction and contentment in what they are accomplishing? Because, despite my poor attitude, they are doing well, and if I think about it for a minute or two – I can’t help but be impressed with them.
Where is the Average Joe mentality when I need it? Chaos reigns. Dust and spilled wax adorn my furniture. Another week goes by and I still haven’t scheduled that asthma/allergist appointment for my poor afflicted son (who likes to excise the feathers from my throw pillows and rub them under his nose).
I know I have written about how the senior doctor who I assist has had high expectations of myself. I know I have described to some degree the anxiety that he helped perpetuate. How he tore apart every little thing I did and never seemed to notice when I did something right. He is a micro-manager.
Did I ever admit to you that he and I are very much alike? My home and it’s inhabitants is the world where I fool myself into believing I can control it’s every aspect.
Do I set myself up for disappointment or what?
Lately, I have been falling into the same trap that I tend to fall into every now and then. A self-pity, self-centered, discontented trap. I choose to be blind to the positives, and instead focus on what is not, thinking that I must have gotten the formula wrong for arriving at this dissatisfied state. All I need to do is plug in the right arithmetic and wha-la! Things should be back on tract in no time. Give the hubby a reserved, disconnected wife when I feel that he is not paying enough attention to me, not asking me the right questions about my job, or showing enough interest about what’s on in my mind. Add a ton of guilt to the kids shoulders when they don’t do something right, give me an attitude, forget their school planner, or argue with each other – bonus points if tears spill from their beautiful green eyes.
I focus on how I am feeling, and sometimes that gets me into trouble. I feel that I’m all alone in raising the kids. I feel that if I wasn’t around, the family would wear crusty underwear, they’d eat McDonald’s food every night, we’d have rare & deadly bacteria growing in our bathrooms, my hubby and kids would become hermits, growing beards, cavities, and dread-locks. I feel like I should go on strike. The strike world looking like utopia, disengaging myself from all responsibility.
Because I’m tired of the responsibility. I’m tired of balancing an outside work life with the home-front control. Things are getting a little more challenging with Jason as a police officer, working different shifts. It never was magazine picture-esc (before my outside job). But then again, I think I did have a clean bathroom ever week or two, instead of every month or two like it is now. I helped out at school, knew what they were studying, and went on field trips. That’s not the case anymore. Frustration? I feel it. It’s heavy. Guilt? I feel that too, though not as heavy as the frustration. I believe I was meant to work outside the home at this time in my life. I am where I am supposed to be. I think the guilt comes from myself, not from the Holy Spirit.
I’m in the trenches. And guess what? I’m looking over and seeing you here too, just a few feet away. We’re living life. We’re doing it. At times it’s not pretty. At times we take one to the gut. Most of the time we can’t see past our outstretched hand in front of us to see the layout of the land ahead. We’re living life moment by moment. Fully. Things get missed, dropped, and shot down. That’s life. We weren’t meant to be able to do it all, be it all, have it all.
But in between the chaos & smoke we look over to each other and we nod. I see you and you wink at me. For a moment we smile. We wipe the sweat from our foreheads and we take a deep breath together.
Then we turn and face life with all it’s force and we get down and dirty. Working in the trenches. It’s what life is all about. This beautiful imperfect life. You’re doing it my friend. Chin up. We’re doing it.