the sum of my accomplishments

Voice mails aren’t returned.

Projects are started but never finished.

Birthdays are forgotten.

Laundry sits in the washer for days.

Left-overs go bad (and sit in the fridge for a long time after).

The yard goes untamed.

Coupons expire before I use them (or are forgotten at home).

Dinner catches me off-guard (you think I’d know it’s coming by now).

Cards don’t get mailed.

Plans are made but not executed.

Passive voice makes it easier to admit those things. ‘Birthdays are forgotten’ feels better going down than admitting that I regularly fail to remember the birthdays of those whom I love dearly. It’s a jagged pill to swallow, accepting that I screw up sometimes on a regular basis.

It hurts to think about the things that I intend to do but fail.

It hurts to feel like I am not the person I want to be.

That’s not to say that who I am is defined by what I get done, but when you have little to point to at the end of the day and say “I accomplished that,” it’s hard to see where I end and my failures begin.

Of course I know the premise of just not being able to get it all done. But what happens when ‘all‘ turns into ‘any of it‘? When I heap expectations upon myself that begin to pile so high that I am crippled under their enormity? When I am on my way to tackle that one thing, but I am struck with fear by four more tasks needing attention so that not even the first objective gets accomplished?

I crumble. I am ashamed. I am frustrated. I feel inadequate.

I heap more burden on myself, more expectations. I’ll get it right this week, I say.

And then I don’t.

37 Responses to “the sum of my accomplishments”

  1. Erin

    Oh, I can relate to this so deeply. We are so inadequate. So thankful for grace– and also for the wisdom of other mothers who have walked this way before. Make the best choice for this moment, and let the next moment take care of itself. Said by a mother who raised six children to adults and lives at peace with herself now. I really don’t think she has a lot of regrets, even though she would admit her house was never the cleanest and her yard never the neatest. It has been a blessing to me. Extend grace to yourself. If a holy, powerful God can extend it to dust like us, surely we can too.

  2. Jocelyn MacDonald

    You are not alone on this one! I actually was given something to read on perfectionism because I was sure that I couldn’t be a perfectionist since I always left things undone. The first thing on the list of descriptions was ‘procrastination’, exactly like you described, if I can’t do it all, I won’t do anything, and if I don’t do anything I can’t mess it up! I’m working on this too…good luck!

  3. Jenny

    ALLISON! Awesome post yet again. I think every Mom goes through this (I’m heading in the baby number 3 and still doing this) I’m just coming to terms with the fact my priorities are simply different. These little lives fly by us so fast, that late birthday cards, unfinished projects, and a messy house is just LIFE. It’s a jagged pill to swallow, but it WILL get easier to swallow, and as O baby flourishes and grows and becomes his awesome little self…you’ll be LOVING the you you’ve become. It seems overwhelming, and depressing at times, but it’ll be okay.

  4. Jenn

    Boy, did this one hit home! I can so empathize with your feelings. My job just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t really care about work ambitions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for good work ethic. But at the end of the day, my house is a mess, I don’t even want to say the last time my bathroom was cleaned, dishes pile up, and “pizza” is regularly the word of choice when I just don’t FEEL like looking at my pig sty of a kitchen. I do hope you can be encouraged. Although I don’t know you in real life, it seems as though you are a wonderful mother, and you work hard to make the best choices for your family. I applaud you for going outside and helping with the front walk! I would’ve sat inside and whined.

    Anyhow, as hard as it was, thanks for sharing this. I think inadequacy is something many women struggle with. And I’m sure you know (but I’ll say it anyway) that the sum of your accomplishments also includes one very healthy, happy, growing, adorable baby boy! :)

  5. Jo @ Parenting Poppy

    Man, I’ve so been there. I so AM there. Right now. Every day.

    I hate looking around my house and seeing a mess. Dishes piled up. Sewing to be done. A bathtub that hasn’t been scrubbed down in… far too long.

    But I also can’t figure out how to stay on task with it all while also caring for the little one and not sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time. *yawn*

    There’s always next week?

  6. Mama Pea

    I feel the same way all the time. I keep trying to remind myself that people are more important than things or accomplishments or a clean house (even though I really hate a dirty house!). A happy healthy family is more important than how clean the house is.

  7. Nicole Drysdale-Rickman

    Go easy on yourself, Allison. One thing you can ALWAYS look at is OBaby- what a HUGE accomplishment at the end of the day- another day has passed- and he is still happy, healthy and doing awesome!!

    There are never enough hours in the day. I put my 8 month old down to sleep and run around the house like a lunatic for 90 minutes. When he gets up, I look around while nursing and see windows that need cleaning, coffee table that needs a good wipe, and piles of shoes EVERYWHERE! I think we as moms are too rough on ourselves, I do it too.

  8. Susan

    Oh My! I felt the same way this past weekend. So many things I mean to do. I have the best of intentions. I seem to run out of steam before getting anything done. And I don’t have a little one to distract me, so I have no excuse whatsoever. I recommit myself each week, but by Sunday night I am faced with the fact that yet another week(end) went by with nothing to show for it. But my children are fed, my bills are paid, and we have food in the house. Sometimes, we have to step back and see the big picture. Is your family loved and cared for? Are you safe? Do they have a strong relationship with God? Rest assured that it is more important to love than to clean.

  9. Savannah

    Wow, I could copy and paste this post exactly and post it on my blog! Nobody would know the difference, except that your writing is so much better than mine! :) Something I’ve done that helps me a lot is I made a list of all the daily, monthly, weekly chores that HAVE to get done around here. Then I put them all on a calendar, only assigning myself one large chore per day. Then I printed it off and put it on the fridge. There are some things on there that I honestly don’t need to write down to know they need to be done, but having them on there, and being able to cross them off, feels good. Now, just because I have this fabulous calendar doesn’t mean everything on there gets done in a timely manner…But it does more frequently than it used to! And, knowing what’s expected of me on that day helps me to weigh if the regular work is more important or the random tasks that come up are more important. And then I do what is most pressing first.

    I’ve been quite overwhelmed with it all lately and not getting as much done as I would like, but you know what? It’s okay! We’re all fed, we’re all clean, we’re all safe and secure, and we’re happy! Isn’t that what really counts?

  10. Tiffany

    Oh darling, I think all moms go through this. And, in my experience, it got worse with #2 before it got better. I think you have to start with honestly making realistic expectations. Once your expectations for the day or week are realistic, then you can begin to accomplish them and build yourself up again. We all get in those funks where we just feel overwhelmed and, quite frankly, done. And, know that you are not wasting that time. I am sure you are spending it doing something that makes you happy – like kissing that handsome baby or talking with your husband – all things worth value and worthy of making priority. Hang in there.

  11. Elizabeth

    I think at this stage, all that matters is that our babies are well-loved, fed, changed and played with. The rest (housework, dinner, etc.) takes the back seat. I make dinner every night, but I have not kept up with cleaning very well. Don’t feel too bad about it though! At the end of the day, when you’re putting OBaby to sleep, just look at how happy he is and that should make you feel like you’ve accomplished something great! :)

  12. Liz

    I could write this word for word and it would be true for me too and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t admit to feeling this way at least some of the time. We just try our best and accept grace when we fall short. That is what grace is for.

  13. Lynzie

    Welcome to the world of being a perfectionist!!!!

    I am just like you with this one. I have a to do list that is so long that I refuse to actually put the list together. My house is a mess, still not decorated (at least it was all unpacked within 3 months!) my laundry is backed up, my yard is not mowed, my landscaping is non-existent… the list goes on and on. If I can’t do everything, I don’t do anything. And I’m not even a mother yet.

  14. Kelly @ Love Well

    You know, it does get easier as the kids get older.

    But what you’re describing is also a valuable reality check. As the old cliche goes, we are human BEINGS, not human doings. Our worth lies in who we are, not in what we do.

    And yes, I’m still learning this in a deeply personal way. So I’m really preaching to the choir.

    Grace, my friend.

  15. Stephanie

    I completely understand! But one thing I’m learning is that I AM accomplishing much…just not by the world’s standards. Being a mom and caring for my children everyday IS accomplishing a lot and it is EVERYTHING I need to accomplish. That being said…I still forget and feel like a failure…every.single.day. But I’m just thankful His mercies are new every day…and especially thankful for a husband who genuinely tries to understand my frustrations and occasionally tells me exactly what I need to hear ;)

  16. McKt

    Oh my, I deal with this so much more than I would like to admit. I try (often through tears) to understand Jesus’ words and to not worry about my life. And to know that this life is a vapor. I have also found that people are still really thankful for birthday cards 2 months late and wedding presents on their first anniversary. And as far as the laundry goes, I just want to absolutely positive everyone has clean underwear, everything else is a bonus. :)

  17. kim

    been there, done that, living it right now!! Even had grand plans today, then child #1 got sick and everything went out the window. In fact we are still ALL in our pajama’s and dinner isn’t even on my radar! You are not alone!! I’m brand new to blogging, maybe you can check me out at http://kimmiekuhl-babyfeet.blogspot.com thanks much!!

  18. Kristine McGuire

    I know exactly what you mean and agree with the other ladies…you’re not alone. In fact, I’d say every wife and mother (no matter the age) can identify with what your feeling. For myself, when I feel this crushing weight of inadequacy I remember “It is what it is and I do what I can do and God handles the rest.”

  19. Terri

    I can so relate to you on this. I used to pride myself on never needing reminders for birthdays, anniversaries or anything else on our calendar. Now I frequently feel overwhelmed by the daily tasks that I can’t seem to get done.

    I try to tell myself that keeping William happy and healthy is a grand accomplishment in itself, and that is all that really matters!! And you are doing wonderfully with OBaby!

  20. Christina

    I just came to sit down and take a break from cleaning the room and read this post. I feel so much better seeing so many moms who feel like I do! I promised my fiance that my goal for today was to clean the bedroom and do ten dishes. I have a four month old and needless to say the bedroom is half done and I haven´t even touched the dishes. And seriously, it didn´t even feel like that hard of a goal! Keep at it, Allison! Love the blog.

  21. Suzanne

    Oh man, huge dittos. Even when I actually get around to doing something I almost never finish it or do it well. Want to know how many times I’ve run the same bowl through the dishwasher this week because I am just TOO LAZY to wash it by hand? I won’t even tell you, it’s too embarrassing.

    But when I start to feel really discouraged I remember on any given day I do plenty to be proud of – I love on Baby Evan, I sit and nurse and cuddle him, I teach him to make wise choices and be kind to animals, mostly without having to do ANYTHING special. I know you’re doing all that and more for OBaby. Don’t let the laundry get to you.

  22. Carri

    I completely understand your feeling. I hope one day you can accomplish all you have set out to do for the day and feel better about it. I have learned to set out smaller goals because I dont feel like I fail I feel accomplished almost always. Goals are good but sometimes aiming to high is just begging for disappointment.

  23. melissa

    Remember Christ here, my friend…Not to say that it’s great not getting things done or feeling like a failure…but this, this is where Christ comes into the picture. To heal, to extend grace, to love, to empower. We can not do it on our own; but you’ve got Christ here in the picture! Allison, I don’t, in any way, mean this as a pat answer (I have been in the depths and had many a friend try to explain this to me), but I truly mean this as the most encouraging encouragement that I can give.

    You are an excellent mother and wife, and I have learned so much from your blog (thanks for sharing!!) but in the end the most special thing about you is your love for Christ and His amazing love for you. Blessings, sister in Christ!

  24. Philip

    This sounds so familiar. I expect everyone goes through days and even weeks like this. I often tell my wife that everyone is alive and the kids look happy. Nothing else was needed! I am pretty sure she doesn’t believe me, but I mean it. After all, there is always a thousand things to get done. How many of them are truly important though? Yep, that’s what I thought too. :-)

  25. mama23bears

    i absolutely know where you are coming from. there doesnt seem to be enough hours in the day. and yet, i see others tackle their lists of to do’s. i decided to start making a list everyday so i can cross off as i go. it’d nice to see at the end of the day between the feedings and the diaper changes and play time, i actually did get 3 or 4 things done. what ever didnt get done moves to the next day. foe now this is the best i can do and it feels good to cross things off!!!

  26. ali

    It amazes me sometimes how we can have such a common experience and yet continue to feel like we’re the only ones, like everyone else always has it all together, and yet look at what you wrote (things I think and do) and look at the comments (again things I think and do) – it is so common, such a real shared experience… it never ceases to amaze me.

    Hang in there, take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the next and just do the next thing…

  27. Angela

    Oh, you’re such a darling! I totally can relate! From all the comments I’ve read to your post, it seems we are NOT ALONE! Phew! That’s great. We don’t have to be perfect, and did I mention we are NOT ALONE? LOL

    I think we are all great moms! Time, space, etc…gets in the way, but I bet our children and significant other love us unconditionally. We are all blessed. :-)

  28. Amanda

    DO ONE thing. Just one. And finish it. Even if its ONE load of laundry. I always feel better when I can check one thing off of my list…

    BUt I totally get that you are a perfectionist and you will always struggle with wanting to do more. Lets switch for a day. You can be lazy and have no guilt and I will be an achiver and actually get stuff done! :)

    ((((hugs))) You are an AWESOME mom and wife.


    P.S. And kick butt blogger!

  29. Amy

    As I was reading this I thought you were writing a bio on me :-) Sometimes I get so overwhelmed I just don’t even try to get one thing done. I just grab my little one’s hand and we head outside to play.

    I can’t wait to meet you in October! Hopefully we can figure out our flights together, too.

    Take a deep breath and tackle a little at a time. I bet the sun is shining in MN, enjoy the day.

    Hugs to you!

  30. ZoyaB

    Been there, done that…now my daughter is 15 years old…and I would give anything to go back in time…cherish every moment…you’re doing great!!!

  31. Amy

    Wow – I think everyone can relate to this! My husband loves to do the yard so I got lucky there but the laundry and the left-overs stink by the time I do something about it and I get yelled at for not picking up my phone. period. It really is good to know that you are not alone! Don’t be ashamed, everything is inadeqaute about being human, you can only do what you can do and if you choose not to, well may the stench be with you!

  32. Jen, the recovering procrastinator

    I hear you. Boy, do I. I agree with Amanda to pick ONE thing and do it all the way through and make a conscious decision to wait on everything else. Schedule a time to do other things if it helps you. I mean literally write on your calendar “change furnace filter. 2 p.m. May 1″ or whatever. It might seem silly at first but until that moment comes, it won’t be nagging at you.

    And in case you haven’t heard it, this is my favorite saying about parenting:

    I hope my children will look back on today
    And see a mother who had time to play.
    There will be years for cleaning and cooking
    But children grow up while we’re not looking.
    Dusting and scrubbing can wait ’till tomorrow
    For babies grow fast we learn to our sorrow.
    So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>