I love celebrating. Bridal showers and baby showers are full of newness, happy anticipation and hope. This past Saturday Julia and I dressed as twins. It was her suggestion and I happily complied. One day soon she will no longer want to be twins so I savor these fleeting moments. The occasion: Tricia’s baby shower. Both Julia and Tricia’s first baby shower. The theme: BaBEE which was a perfect play off Tricia’s last name, Beebee.
One of the many perks of working in college ministry is watching relationships bloom from friendship to dating, engagement to marriage and then for most, eventually parenting. Julia was able to watch first hand as Tricia and Nich led our summer mission team in Nagoya the summer of 2008. She watched as they worked together, had fun, brought out each other’s strengths, led together with mutual respect. She watched a strong friendship form and when they started dating long distance that fall, both Julia and I “whoo-hooed” in the car. When we received the call after Nich proposed, Julia and I danced around our living room in celebration.
So this couple and this baby and this shower holds a special place in our hearts. Tricia has experienced some pregnancy complications and was in the hospital from Christmas to New Years. She is currently on bed rest but both she and the baby are doing well.
Her friend threw a wonderful baBEE shower complete with a tasty spread, fun games, creative decorations and this beautiful guest book for us to sign with space for encouraging words. As I sat on the edge of the chair with pen in hand, looking over at beautiful, pregnant Tricia I wondered, “What words of encouragement can I share on a 3 inch by 3 inch square piece of paper for this soon to be mom?” Tricia is amazing. An incredibly gifted leader. A natural people gatherer. She is loved and admired from coast to coast. On each of her party favors at her wedding she wrote personal notes of appreciation to over 100 guests. She is thoughtful and hardworking, fun, wise. Excellent through and through. She will be a wonderful mom to the daughter she carries inside.
What words could I share? Two popped into my mind: good enough.
Parenting, like marriage, evokes and surfaces all sorts of unfinished business from our families of origin. In our attempts to be either “just like” how our parents raised us or to fulfill a vow of “when I become a parent one day, I will never ____,” we place all sorts of expectations on ourselves and those around us of how we think life is supposed to be–how we will respond, the condition of our home, the environment, the traditions, the memories, the climate. We hope and pray that our child or children will grow up to be loving, forgiving, grateful, responsible, generous, play fair, sit by the new kid, resolve conflict, love Jesus, keep a budget, be cavity-free, work hard, play hard, be respectful, keep their rooms and nails clean. All this while growing up in a home that is dusted, orderly, with healthy vegetable-filled meals, an always stocked fridge, healthy snacks and apples that don’t brown. Oh, and clean, folded clothes and ironed (what’s that?) shirts and matching socks without holes. And all this with parents who are affectionate, wise, affirming, fair, patient, consistent and still hold hands with each other while walking through the parking lot. Sadly, this picture is impossible to attain for most of us and for the rare few that do, it is impossible to maintain and sustain. Life becomes increasingly complex when kids come along and more often than not, life does not go according to plan. The words I wish I heard (and maybe I did, but just didn’t take in) and the words I need to hear even today are the same words I shared with Tricia: good enough.
Life, parenting, my to-do list, the piles/bags of paperwork, my inbox, the sliding glass doors covered with doggy nose prints, that mystery sticky mess in the meat and cheese drawer in the fridge, I can’t and won’t get to all of it today, tomorrow or even by next year. It’s not that I won’t work hard and invest time into important things, but there is no end to the things I could or should be doing.
So “good enough” for me means being at peace with
life less than perfect,
my little world being less than perfect,
me being less than perfect.
It means taking a deep exhale and letting go of the expectation that life look differently than it does at this exact moment. It means resting in the circumstances God has allowed, both good and hard. It means enjoying the enjoyable and persevering in the difficult. It means giving myself, my husband and my kids grace to be in process.
I whisper it to myself throughout the day as I assess. “Good enough” brings alignment to my heart because I actually can be a “good enough” mom, wife, friend, and all the other hats I wear each day. Good enough helps me let go and enjoy the present and be present.