“I’m so discouraged…I just don’t feel like I’m doing enough! I talk to other moms and hear all these really great ideas. How do they have time for all this stuff? I can barely get through the day’s lessons, cook meals, nurse a baby…and the housework! I never have time for all the things I need to do, let alone the things I’d really like to do.”
Does this sound familiar? I’ve had more than a few conversations with other moms and everyone is saying the same thing:
I’m not doing enough…
But what is “enough?” We are daily expanding this definition to include more and more. It is certainly desirable to stretch one’s self. Look at the marathon runner: a jog around the block would never be “enough.” For the great artist, a coloring book wouldn’t be “enough.” A master chef wouldn’t consider a TV dinner a challenge and would even be insulted that he be asked to prepare one! Most women I know are stretched to the limit, praying for grace and calling upon the many gifts God has given to assist in the fulfillment of the day’s work.
It can be so tempting, to read or hear what others are doing in the realm of academics, family life and home organization and feel that we don’t measure up. Often, a young mom who is seeking encouragement and suggestions from one of her more experienced “sisters” can come away feeling inadequate, fearing that she is not as good a mother, wife, teacher, insert-title-here. It’s easy to forget that we’ve all been given gifts suitable to our calling, and have also been endowed with the abilities to use them accordingly. It’s also important to remember at these times that God alone is the Giver of all good gifts, that He endows us as He wills. I receive such comfort when I contemplate the image St. Thérèse of Lisieux inspires, as she uses a floral analogy to show us that we are unique and have gifts all our own which glorify God:
Jesus opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower He has created has a beauty of its own; that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent, nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm. I saw that if every little flower wished to be a rose, nature would lose her Spring adornments, and the fields would be no longer enameled with their varied flowers.
“…every flower He has created has a beauty of its own…” We are not “cookie cutter” people! Some are called to be great scholars, others artists and philosophers, still others are called to live more hidden lives. How blessed am I to have been adorned by God to serve my particular call! If I listen closely, tuning out the discouraging message the world wishes to send, I will hear Him as He calls me to holiness, to greater love of Himself and neighbor, loving service as befits my vocation and contentment in the gifts that I’ve been given. God has equipped me (and you!) for these monumental tasks, no matter how arduous they may seem at times. What a great gift to have the example of good friends and neighbors, to glean from others’ experience, inspiration to aid us in living lives of holiness.
Am I doing enough?
Though I’m always tempted to say “no,” I realize that my feelings of inadequacy most frequently surface as I continue to struggle to impose my definition of the vocation of wife and mother, rather than allowing God to mold me. Focusing on the essentials, utilizing God’s gifts is paramount to peace and contentment.
Living a life of service and offering that service in love, is never in vain. I have faith that God will help me make up for my deficiencies…
And that is enough.