Why B Minus is my Favorite Grade
I once saw a gorgeous American datebook made especially for mothers. On one side of each page was the mother’s hourly schedule illustrated with delicate flowers, and beside that was an hourly daily schedule for her child so the mother wouldn’t forget that on Tuesday Max has little league, and on Saturday at 11 AM he has a birthday party at the roller rink (wait, are there still roller rinks? Or is that soooo 1988, Chana Jenny!)
When I saw that date book I thought how with one child, it’s maybe still possible to have things completely under control. But quite a few kids ago, I realized that there is NO WAY that I can stay on top of everything going on in this family.
Three weeks ago my 9-year-old Yoel came home with only one lens in his glasses. The other one had fallen out, it appeared, during a recess soccer game. I called the school secretary, but nobody had brought the missing lens to her. So I ordered another lens, and Yoel’s glasses were fixed, until a few days later when he lost the glasses entirely, and for the last week Yoel has been walking around without glasses.
Don’t worry, Yoel sees pretty OK without his glasses and my 16-year-old WILL take him very soon to get another pair from the health fund.
But what I have discovered is that this is always the way it is.
There is always something missing, something broken, something lost in the mail, something forgotten behind…
And for years, this essential imperfection of my mothering life bothered me immensely.
Around a decade ago my daughter left a bathing cap at the swimming pool (see what I’m saying?), and it was found by a girl from Kiryat Belz who called us to come pick it up. When I went to pick up the bathing cap a few days later, I knocked on the door and found a spotless chandeliered abode, the only hint of mess a small pile of laundry folded as neatly as a pile of shirts at the GAP by a teenage daughter.
And for years the image of that house stuck with me, haunted me, made me feel slightly sick to my stomach whenever anything was missing, broken, lost in the mail, forgotten behind….As there ALWAYS was.
But a year or two ago, out of the blue, I had an idea.
I decided that instead of kicking myself for not being as together as that woman with the chandelier and the GAP shirts, I would set a more realistic expectation for myself.
I would aim for 80%.
A house that is 80% clean.
My kids’ not-urgent needs 80% met.
A to-do list that is 80% finished.
And this new lowering of expectations has added a new positivity to my life and how I see my home.
And my home seems to function quite well, but with a lot less guilt– B minus style.