We’re all a work in progress. (But this might help…)
I went for a walk with my good friend recently, and as we climbed the wet trail up the wooded hills, we caught up on life. We chatted through what was going on with each of our kids, (there are eight between us.) Like me, her kids span a wide age range, and hers are also spread among a variety of school settings: From private, to public, to homeschooling–she has it all covered.
I asked her how her family was navigating one kid’s activities, which I knew was challenging, and probably a bit overwhelming. She smiled and said, “Ya know, we’ve never done this before.” She paused, then added “But…we’re doing our best, and I know it’ll get better.” It was both an exclamation and confession…a refreshing declaration of humility and faith. And as she spoke those words I felt a little weight lift off my own shoulders as well.
“We’ve never done this before.”
I loved the sound of it. She wasn’t trying to pretend to have it all figured out. Nor did she seem anxious or stressed. Instead she seemed at peace and full of grace to face this season.
I immediately thought of some of our family’s firsts, and how I most often beat myself up over them.
–It is Josiah’s senior year now, and since we home school, I had planned on signing him up for a couple of community college classes this year. When we went online to fill out the application back in June, we found out that homeschoolers had to go through an early sign-up process–back in April. No exceptions. I felt so bad. Of course something else ended up working out (even better — yay!) but only after I beat myself up good for being lame and missing the sign up.
Indeed, I could give you lists of all of my self-proclaimed #momfails because I personally missed a memo, didn’t see something coming, or just didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
I don’t know why it is we moms (all people really, but moms are experts at this) are so hard on ourselves. We imagine we ought to be great at things before we’ve even started. We get embarrassed when we don’t know it all, and then feel pressure to pretend that we do. You might know what I’m talking about…
—If you got married and expected it would be easy from the start.
—If you’ve had a baby and imagined you should immediately (and very naturally) be the best mom ever. (not to mention have your pre-baby body back...like instantly.)
—If you’ve moved somewhere new, or started a new job, and just like that–expected to fit in, make friends, succeed, and be amazing at it all.
—If you’ve been caught off guard in parenting, and beat yourself up for not knowing the perfect words to say without fumbling (or swearing or crying).
Where did we get this idea? Last time I checked: it takes time to figure things out. And also: life is hard. What if we were all a little more patient and honest — with ourselves and with each other?
This reminds me of the story my parents have told me about when they brought their firstborn, my oldest brother, to his first pediatrician appointment. They were young and nervous and when the doctor asked them how it was going they admitted, “We don’t really know what we’re doing. We’ve never had a kid before.”
The kind pediatrician smiled and assured them, “It’s ok. He’s never had parents before.”
Because we are all facing firsts, aren’t we?
We’ve got kids facing new things: schools, sports and hormones. First pimples or first fight with a friend. They have their first period, first prom, first midterms, and first time going away to camp. And boy do kids need to hear that it’s ok to be feel a little overwhelmed by it all. In fact, sometimes what kids need to hear most is: “It’s ok. You’ve never done this before. I promise it’ll get easier…”
As adults we are facing our own firsts, even if less obvious: We have new jobs and new friends, too. There is the first time staying home with a baby, and the first time going back to work…The first time facing an illness, or facing life without a parent. We might be learning to live with pain or with hormones out of whack. There are new seasons financially and in marriage. And eventually there is that season of being…empty nesters. (I just can’t…even.)
Really, life is a big series of adapting to new things. If it isn’t one thing, then it’s something else. I’d be happy if I could even keep up with the latest trends… By the time I finally figure out how to tuck my shirt in the right way, I know there’ll be a new way to tuck. (And please tell me Mason Jars are still cool because I just bought another whole set.)
You see, I used to think there were two schools of people: the ones who have it all together, and walk around really confident about their every move. They give quick, firm answers and never seem to doubt. The other group is the people who seem really unsure all of the time. They second-guess their every move and walk around with the deer-in-the-headlights-look most of the time.
Now I’m beginning to believe that we’re really all pretty unsure most of the time.
The second group might just be a little more honest about things.
So I think it’s safe to say, we are all just a work in progress. And maybe that’s not something to be ashamed of. Maybe we can learn to take ourselves a bit less seriously…enjoy our differences and our imperfections and enjoy each other more, too?
I’m wondering if anyone besides me could use a big dose of grace right about now? Grace to not be an expert. Grace to fumble a little and make some mistakes along the way. Grace to not have a Pinterest perfect house or garden or life because you’ve been a little busy and you weren’t watching when everyone else turned way eco friendly or paleo or hipster or just so gosh darned put together. Grace to tuck wrong, (or maybe not tuck at all) and grace to call a friend and cry because you fumbled in your job or totally overreacted at your kid, or you didn’t know how to handle something because…Well, you’ve just never done this before.
Maybe we can extend a bit more grace to our kids and our spouses and (maybe most of all) ourselves.
Go ahead: try saying it out loud: “We’ve never done this before.” This job. This stage. This house. This toddler/teenage/in-law/travel/school/money/health/grown up thing. (Adulting can be so hard.)
Then think of a friend that could really use some grace right now and reach out to say: “You know what? It’s ok…You’ve never done this before. But you’re doing your best. and…it will get easier.“
Because: Yes, it will.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Maybe you have your own story of being new or awkward or just needing a little more grace in this crazy world…Your story might encourage someone else, and you’re surely in good company here. 😉
PS As always, if this post encouraged you I hope you’ll share it with your friends using the social media buttons below.
Gosh this article was read at the time I needed it the most.
lately life is very challenging
I feel #momfail and a bit frustrated…..
Being mom with three boys (one teen, the special-middle-one and the toddler), without home-assistant/maid and stacks of office work is very…. breath puffing…
The special one surprises me all the time… with good and bad ones.
But then again , I ‘ve never done this before and i will always learn to live my life better…
Thank you for sharing your inspiring article
Wow….I think I really needed to read this right now. I don’t have kids (yet), but my life is full of new things I’m trying to figure out. New at blogging (or new-ish at least), new at running an Etsy store, and so many other things. And just this morning feeling like a failure because I don’t have it all flowing perfectly or all figured out. Thank you for the reminder to give myself some grace.
Oh my goodness I am glad I finally got to this post. Transition/change/haven’t done this before…you name it! We left England a year ago,spent a year in Kansas for my husband to do a school program and after seeing family in Michigan, PA, and VA have landed in Germany for a few years. And I found out over the summer that I am pregnant with our 3rd. We have been in a new house a week, a new culture a month, and in theory should start back to homeschooling shortly. Feeling like its SO much to process and we just have to keep going to get unpacked and moved in etc. Thank you for taking the time to sort through intentional thoughts for someone like me whose mind is all a clutter 😊. There was a chance of us moving to Oahu at one point and it would have been fun to meet you. Have been a subscriber for awhile now and am truly encouraged to have someone with some perspective for the journey as I have two boys, 7 and 2. You are wonderful to share all that you have learned and continue to learn! Especially as we are military and move around so much that it’s it’s hard to find someone like you in my day to day life every time we move.
This message is very timely as my job has changed, and my son is getting married (in Sweden; we are on the way there now)and I have been feeling rather overwhelmed……..grace is needed because I haven’t done any of this before……..words to ponder and embrace…thank you
Oh wow Janice! So much grace to you…It’s all new. You’ll do great. And i hope you have a wonderful time in Sweden! (I dream of going to Sweden!) Much aloha and thank you for taking the time to comment!
That is so true. I always say jokingly I’m a jellyfish parent. I go with the flow. I do the best I can in any situation but we don’t have a specific parenting style. We mostly eat made from scratch meals and my babies have never seen a prepared store bought baby food, yet they eat French fries and bits of pizza when we go out. I pray for them and for guidance and apart from that it is just common sense and a lot of grace. Our elder has developmental delays and a result our younger one is way ahead, as we are so used to stimulating the eldest as per therapists instructions. What I’ve learned is it isn’t me, it is us. Each child is different, and nothing that I’ve done has caused it. We try our best together and go with the flow.
Oh Monica! This was incredibly encouraging and spot on!! I have been struggling lately with how many masks are put on at church. I am guilty of this too because who wants to be the only one bawling their head off or walking around with no smile? Currently we have two beautiful teenage daughters…need I say more!!! Thankfully God always walks ahead of us down these new (and scary, vulnerable, treacherous) paths. My favorite attribute about God is that He never changes! Can you imagine how hard life would be if He did?
Thank you for always sharing from your heart and exposing your human-ness(forgive the spelling as Dictionary.com was no help)…its VERY refreshing!!
Omg. This article is spot on and every mom should read this. thank you for being real and calling it like it is.
We need to be BFFS. Lol
Oh thank you Nancy. Such sweet words! And I’d love to be your BFF. 😉 XO
Thank you for this wonderful post. I am a parent of 4 children aged 18 down to 6. I have often found myself saying “I just thought I would be so much better at parenting than this.” I will now replace that with “I have never done this before, but I am doing my best.” It is certainly not an easy thing parenting, but love compels us to keep on keeping on. It is challenging and heart wrenching sometimes, but there are moments of wonderful that make it all worth while. Thank you for sharing you heart.
Thanks for this, Monica! Very timely for me! We are going to try your system for chores. So much of what we’ve tried has stirred up a lot of frustration. Your post made me think how we need to have grace with do-overs or re-works when things aren’t working. I love your blog. My husband reads any post I send his way and really is encouraged.
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. Just what I needed to hear today. I sent it to several friends and many responded it was “just what I needed to hear today” too. Works in progress… all of us.
Oh thank you Natalie. That makes me so happy. Bless you and have a great weekend! 😉
Ya know… sometimes I think God is sending me encouragement and Grace through your writing, Monica. I can’t tell you how often something is occupying my thoughts- like taking up way too much of my energy- and then a post that feels like it was written for me pops up and provides fresh prospective at just the right moment. I can’t thank you enough, because I do deserve a lot more Grace than I allow. Funny how I am full of Grace for others- the co-worker who didn’t finish her part of the project, the mom who couldn’t drive carpool-again, or the secretary at the gymnastics studio who asked us to reschedule a class only to discover she gave us the wrong time after we left the pool party and arrived to an empty gym… I need to try it out on myself-because it is so true-I have never done this before! Aloha and thanks- Monica!
Oh thank you Shannon! Yes, you are so right. And I actually had a line about that in my post (how easily we extend grace to others) and somewhere it was removed and now I just might have to add that back! 🙂 You are so right. I hope you truly apply this because as far as I can tell if anyone is doing the best she can…it is you! You’re awesome. Much aloha —
Thank you for the inspiring article! I think as parents we do beat ourselves up in whether we have done or are doing the best for our kids. It’s the hardest job in the world. I was told by my boys first nanny when my twins were infants to pray for them early… For when they go to school with friends, pray for good quality friends, For when they start driving for safety and protection. And for their future wife to be the one God has chosen for them. I found that has been such great advice I have never forgotten her kind words!
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Christa. Yes that is great advice you shared–love it. I’ve mentioned on my blog before that my Mother in law also taught my husband to start praying for me when he was very young…And I am so glad! 😉 Much aloha to you-