I‘m a recovering perfectionist. You should know that about me, because I get asked all. the. time. “how I do it all” (whatever “it” is). The reason it’s important to know that I’m a recovering perfectionist is because I’ve long ago let go of the notion that I can do it all, or even that it should look like I can do it all.
Somehow, the message still doesn’t get through. Maybe I should say it again, right now, for the record — I don’t do it all.
I know I’ll still get asked this again next week. Oh well.
This is true both online and off — in my own home, as I raise little ones and make spaghetti for dinner (again) and watch dust flitter down on the bookshelf as soon as I wipe it off. If you were to come to my house right now, you would see an outgrown exersaucer smack-dab in the middle of the living room, waiting for the yard sale because we don’t have any other place to put it, and dishes in the sink waiting for the dishwasher because I haven’t gotten around to filling it yet. I promise.
My mother-in-law has had this quote on her fridge since my husband was a kid: “Dull women have immaculate homes.” It makes me smile every time I visit.
God is the only One who can claim perfection has an attribute — always has, always will be true. Mistakes and shortcomings are part of the package of claiming Earth as an address.
We should strive for excellence, to be sure — God is honored when we give our all to the tasks He’s given us. But we need to be mindful of the task He’s given us that day. Is it to vacuum with gusto? Or to play Lego on the floor with our kids? Sometimes it’s both. But not always.
Be careful not to worship perfection. Strive for excellence as a means of worship. I tell myself this often.
I bring this up because last week, I asked Simple Mom Facebook followers what they would ask me if they could ask me anything. “How do you do it all?” came up again. Here’s a version of that question, with an important qualifier:
Q: “How in the world do you accomplish all that you do, with young children? Tell the truth, do you have help with the kids and the housework?”
Yes, I have help. He’s 6’2 and I sleep with him. Seriously — Kyle, my husband, truly shares the workload with me. We both work from home, so we’re able to divvy up the tasks pretty much down the middle. He cooks, cleans, and folds the laundry right with me.
When I wrote Organized Simplicity, I also had a mama’s helper come over two to three times weekly to watch the kids while I wrote.
And this fall, I hope to hire another person to come over while I work and write. No way can I do all that I do solo.
Here are few more questions you guys asked:
Q: “I would like to know what you did BEFORE you were a mom and started Simple Mom. I’m always curious about everyone’s ‘life before mom.’”
Between flights in China, pre kids.
I met my husband while I was an English teacher in Kosovo, and we were only married for two years before I became a mama. During those years, we were preparing to move overseas and do full-time ministry — pretty much continuing our life overseas, similar to ours in Kosovo. (As a side note, I share a bit more about this in just a few days on (in)courage.)
My educational background is in English and anthropology, so I guess you could say I’ve always had an interest in writing and cultures. My life pre-mama was about this — loving the written word and loving how God made people.
To pay the bills, I mostly worked as a freelance graphic designer.
Q: “Has there been a significant turning point in your life? An ‘Aha!’ moment — maybe in the every day, maybe a simple comment from a friend or teacher, rather than a momentous occasion such as marriage or childbirth?”
I can think of a few. Growing up, my dad always said, “Do for a living what you would do for a living if you didn’t have to do it for a living.” I loved that, and really took it to heart. I would blog, write books, and be a mama for free if I had to. Oh wait, my kids don’t pay me.
When I was 15, I remember looking out a frost-covered window in Riga, Latvia (I was on a mission trip), watching the circus-sized cars and fur-covered heads amble through the roads, and distinctly thinking, “This is cool — I’d like to live and work overseas one day.”
On August 1, 2000, Kyle was walking in one direction on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere in the former Yugoslavia, and I was walking the other. “Are you that new American?” I asked. Word had gotten around that there was a new foreigner in town, and in a village of 500 people, that’s a big deal. That blip in time on that dusty patch of road was a definite turning point in my life.
Yes, that led to the typical kids and marriage thing, which of course were the most momentous occasions yet. But you asked for turning points besides those.
On February 28, 2007 we moved overseas. Huge turning point. And then in spring 2009, getting an email from a book editor turned out to be a rather big moment as well.
Q: “What makes you laugh?”
The things my six-year-old says near daily — I could write another book based just on quotes from her. All my kids are pretty hilarious, actually. Kenneth on 30 Rock and Andy on The Office. Playing Apples to Apples and Things with my extended family. Reminiscing with my husband — we’ve been to a lot of places, experienced a lot of things, and met a lot of people together. And of course, Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. “Did you not tell them that they were the Lord’s chips?”
I was actually floored by some of the thoughtful questions asked on Facebook, and I can’t possibly answer them with justice here in this post. I think I may take some of those as post topics in the next few months on Simple Mom.
Thanks, guys, for your encouragement and loyalty. Is there anything else you’d like to know? Maybe something not quite as deep — such as, what’s my favorite color?* Ask away.
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