Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is "Good Enough"?

I am having a busy week at work and at home. I've been paying bills, moving money around for retirement, and to pay for Conan tickets and our taxes. The other office person has been out sick, so that means more work for me. I'm trying to keep forging ahead on re-learning math skills before I take a college placement test. Our eating habits have been not so great lately, so I've been working a lot on that. I'm gearing up for spring cleaning this weekend, since Josh will be on the road. I haven't been doing anything with photography lately. I'm not keeping up with my Newsweek subscription very well. I've become a total slacker when it comes to Small Time Cooks. I've got several partly read books on my bedside table. I've made very little progress on my resolutions. There are a lot of unfinished projects around the house. My insomnia is totally getting the better of me. And I'm slowly realizing that I can't do everything, especially when I'll be adding school to my plate.

Lately the phrase "The perfect is the enemy of the good" has been popping up around me. I've read it on other blogs, in some of those half-finished bedside books, and I keep coming back to it. It makes sense to me, but I can't even begin to figure out how to actually apply it. I don't know how you figure out what is "good enough". Everytime I think of my long list of to-do's they all seem necessary. I was talking about stuff with a friend over coffee this weekend and she was somewhat amazed at my ability to connect whether or not I peel and chop my own carrots to whether or not I'm succeeding or failing in life. I have to prepare good food for us because it's important for my health and Josh's. I have to make sure I'm eating the right things to help keep my health problems in check. So how do I measure "good enough" when it comes to feeding us?

Keeping a clean house is very important to me, especially because I'm actually the messy one of the two of us. I've been teased that I could rent my house out to build micro-chips in. Let me just tell you that isn't the case because dusting is one cleaning duty that I am actually very lax on. I'm lax on a lot of them, but if I don't clean house often enough I feel like I'm failing. Sometimes Josh will do some cleaning and I will feel awful about it. I feel differently when he offers to help, but when I can hear him from the other room cleaning, unprompted, I feel guilty, like I've let him down. I have a shelf of books about cleaning and housekeeping in my office. I cleaned house last weekend in anticipation of spring cleaning this weekend. Cleaning your house so you can be ready to clean your house? Seems a bit much. But how can I hope to be at peace if my house is in chaos?

I hate that I don't always get to ironing Josh's shirts and that he will wear them anyways. I feel like his wrinkled clothes are a public display of my laziness. Everytime we buy prepared things at the store I say to myself "I should be making this." I should be making the bread. I should be making the salad dressing. I should be making the graham crackers. Do you know how time consuming it is to make graham crackers? Rolling, scoring, baking in batches. And do you also know how inexpensive graham crackers are? And yet it bothers me. Josh came back from staying with friends in Austin this weekend and told me how the wife made migas and bacon for everyone, and I apologized for not doing that too. His response was "You're always making good breakfasts." I almost NEVER make breakfast on the weekends. If he doesn't seem to even notice, why do I still feel the need to apologize?

I have this quote taped to my work monitor: "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."- H. Jackson Brown. I think I'm going to take it down though because every time I look at it I say to myself "Yeah, but they didn't have to do the laundry and clean the toilets."

How do I figure out what's "good enough"?


Holly said...

Take that quote down right this second and tear it up. That is a horrible attempt at inspiration, which at best, only leads to numerous Helen Keller jokes.

Olivia Carter said...

Oh man, I know exactly what you mean about wrinkly shirts. I feel awful when Scott's shirts are wrinkly & he wears them anyway. Or when he's like, "Hey do I have any clean underwear?" & I'm like, "Ummm.... in the dryer still?"

But seriously, we gotta stop beating ourselves up. And I agree take down that quote. It's true in some respects but, man, talk about unneeded pressure.

I'd go for something more like, "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." -Walt Disney

jen said...

Oh dear, please stop beating yourself up over this. Sorry you don't know me, I came by your blog via Simple Notebook. You are still young and I am afraid like lots of women carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. It is a shame that your husband had to wear a wrinkly shirt, and yes I iron mine's too but he has two arms and a heartbeat and is on the odd occasion quite capable of ironing it himself. As women we feel that we have to live up the the 1950's ideal housewife and then most of the time work as well. Many will tell you that this is possible, and in a lot of ways it is, but there are times that it isn't, and we have to give ourselves a break occasionally. We all like a clean house, we all like to have that great job etc but the world is not going to come crashing down if we miss something on the to do list at home. Remember that most of the women that have it all are just like us and ducks, calm on the surface but paddling like mad to keep alfoat. It is great to keep up to your standards but don't burn yourself out in the meantime and not enjoy life. I hope you find a nice balance, it is not easy, a little dust, or pile of laundry that has to wait till the next day is not a bad thing. Be kind to yourself!