The Measure of My Success

I started vacation with a partially empty emotional bucket, rather eager to refill it. And now that I’m on vacation, I’m splashing relaxation frantically towards the bucket, hoping some of it will land inside and I’ll be magically refilled. I like to be realistic; it’s one of my best things.

But vacation is like sleep. Incredibly awesome. In shorter supply than I would like. And very challenging to do successfully with a limited amount of time.

Sleep, I tell myself every night. Just go to SLEEP. Beth. Seriously. Sleep now. Now now. Now now now now.

And because putting pressure on myself to succeed always results in unparalleled success, I thought I’d do it on vacation, too.

Enjoy yourself, I tell myself. Just enjoy every single moment of rest and relaxation. Rest! RELAX. Beth. Seriously. Rest now. Now now. Now now now now.

Not to be dramatic or anything, but being a mother is like being deranged; logic has a hard time finding its footing here.

So today, I’m going to work on challenging my broken record and the measure of my success.

I’m going to work on redefining rest success. And relaxation success. And sleep success. And, well, being a mama success. Because I’m starting to suspect this…

In order to be a success – as a mama, as a woman, as a flawed human being – I must discard the idea of a wasted day. And a wasted experience. And a wasted opportunity.

To watch moments flutter by is not a waste; it is life.

Instead, I will embrace the idea that successes are little, that they come in ones… and that just one little success is enough.

If, today, I
discovered something new
or
thought of someone else
or
was kinder than I wanted to be…

If, today, I
went for a walk
or
enjoyed my coffee
or
managed to breathe…

If, today, I
managed just one thing…

not all of them
or most of them
or many of them
or some,

that is the measure of my success,
and it is enough.

……….

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
12 comments
  1. This is a beautiful thought, Beth, and one that I so appreciate! Actually, I’m pretty sure that all of us mommies out there need to adopt this attitude. So often I find myself feeling discouraged at the end of the day when I find that–yet again–I failed to do anything more than care for my kids, keep house, and maintain my sanity. But lately I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that doing those things is about all I’m capable of these days, and if I have managed to do them (even if I didn’t do them perfectly), I shouldn’t feel like a failure.

  2. I think I have heard it explained that when God told Eve in the garden, that she would have pain during childbirth, it didn’t mean it was to stop after the actual birth. Thanks for reminding me to take it moment by moment, because I know it goes sooo fast. I watched the baby turn one on Wednesday, and have watched the success on his face when he takes two steps on his own. I should learn from him. Why is it that our children teach us so much when we really watch and listen to them?? Enjoy the rest of your vacation!!

  3. Amen, amen, amen and amen! And good idea Angie! 😉

  4. I think I need to print that last bit out and hang it in my house. That way, every time I feel like a failure, I will have an instant reminder that maybe I didn’t entirely fail that day.

  5. “I must discard the idea of a wasted day. And a wasted experience. And a wasted opportunity. To watch moments flutter by is not a waste; it is life.” Yes, yes, and again, yes! I wish I could get this into my thick head. Just yesterday, I was mowing our “jungle”, and was thinking how nice it was to have something that would stay finished for a while. You know, you do the laundry and there is always more laundry, or empty the sink and almost immediately there is another dish. But the lawn – well, at least for the next few days you can look at it and feel a sense of accomplishment. Until….I walked past the garage and just got this sense of never being caught up. (I haven’t been able to get my truck in the garage in over a year – there’s a bathroom vanity in there that needs to be stained, poly-ed, and installed, and, well, when that didn’t get finished, the garage just sort of became a really convenient place to stash stuff.) Let me tell you, it is not easy to cry and mow and wipe your nose at the same time! 🙂

    Thanks for this. I should probably have it tattooed on my forehead!

  6. You have a way Beth of saying just what we all feel! I pray you find refreshment, and that you do know that there is no wasted day! 🙂

  7. Have thought about this much since I am an “older” mom (2 kids in middle school and 8 grandkids with 3 more on the way). My days of “succeeding” are long gone :). But I have learned that time with kids is what they remember. Not the clean floors, dishes, laundry, etc–but the backyard swinging time, the bubble blowing, reading books, taking a “nature” walk. I am finding I need time where nothing is happening cuz it fills me back up inside. That allows me to laugh more, be more patient, kind, gentle, helpful, etc. That is success to me. Thank you for this post and thank you Yelena for reposting so I read it 🙂

  8. Thank you for this thought which I desperately need to heed.

  9. Beth, It’s so nice for someone who has a way with words to put my thoughts into sentences!!! Just last night after bedtime stories were read and my kids were falling asleep with their teeth brushed wearing real pajamas (ok at least they were clean clothes), I decided that was IT for the day. I was so ready to sleep. I said no to many other things that I could have done “now that the kids were in bed”. Now that IS an accomplishment: saying no and resting. Check. 🙂 I went to bed with the peace of knowing I had done something today. Relaxing and resting is hard, but God does tell us to do it huh? Remembering that always makes it a little easier for me. Those oranges look delicious! Eat one for me, maybe a couple for my orange-lovin boys too.

  10. Yay!! Exactly right. And some days I don’t even do one thing, and some days that’s okay. I’m glad you’re enjoying the vacation, even if you aren’t relaxing! Ha!

  11. Just shared the picture with the twins. Cai wants to say to you: “Mom, can you please pick some of the oranges for me? And that’s all”. Cai (signature by Cai)

  12. Beautiful post. As long as I am growing (I do not mean my rear end, of course) then there can be no wasted day. If as I plan my way, the Lord directs my path in another direction, it is not a waste. It is an opportunity. Even if all I learn right then is that IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY… And kinder than I wanted to be – what a victory! Thanks for these good encouraging words, Beth. The overachiever needs a break more often than the general population…

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