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Satisfied (I Will Never Be)

I don’t compare myself to others, I recently told a friend, honestly. I love community over competition. I like that we’re all different, but can all be great… but I’m brutal with myself.

I have expectations, for myself, for my children, for the way our house should look on any given day, for how well our cabinets ought to be stocked, for solid dinners to be made, so-many-minutes or miles of exercise to be done, work to be edited, dates to be had, my marriage to be strong, my friendships to be fostered, my time to be well spent. I struggle to sit myself down. To be still. And, I collapse into bed, every night.

Literally, I collapse.

Again, Hamilton flashes through my thoughts – as I realize, I will never be satisfied.

I shrug off thoughts that I’m a perfectionist, because, well, just now, I can pick apart the fifty things in my bedroom that need attention. There are drawers that won’t close, because clothing is piled too high, my shoes from going out on Saturday are still sitting on the floor where I kicked them off at my bedroom door. The top of my dresser and the inside of my armoire are just holding spaces for whatever pile of stuff is in my hands when I walk into this room. Quick, shove this all in here, company is coming. 

My armiore, this morning, houses BB gun pellets, camera batteries, a can to make Dharma stop barking, a woven basket of jewelry I’ll probably never wear again, stuffed animal gifts from my kids, broken picture frames, all of our tax documentation, half-used journals, all squished up against my (equally disorganized) make-up bag.

And messes that aren’t mine to control, don’t stress me out.

I can walk into clients or friends houses and sidestep entire war-zones of toys on the ground. I will smile, genuinely happy, to see dishes in the sink, muddy shoes by the door, pillows strewn across couches and all of the signs of a cozy, well-lived-in, space.

Then, hours later,  I’ll walk through the door of my own house, and immediately grumble and utter the words, this place is a disaster. 

It’s not.

It’s a little dog fur under the piano bench. It’s a couple snack dishes left on the table (where kids are still sitting). It’s, maybe, a few pieces of paper from Evaline the artist, left on the living room floor, where she sprawls out and creates her masterpieces.

But somewhere, somehow, along the way to thirty-six,  I’ve become a grumbling, nitpicking, monster – with myself. In dog fur on the floor, in dishes on the counter, in all things.

Only managed to log 18,700 steps, instead of breaking 20K – sigh.

Backed-up on editing or client correspondence – ugh.

Dust on my mantle or toothpaste smears on the shower curtain – gah!!!

Night out with friends, I’m 99% sure I talked too much –  dwell on this for the next 24 hours and then be genuinely surprised when people want to see my face again.

And, so on.

I can find it in me to encourage the efforts of my friends, my husband, my children. I can applaud little victories or the accomplishments of others…but why is recognizing that I don’t need to be all of the things (to anyone, even myself) so difficult?

Why is self-kindness the hardest to give?

Is it a stage of life thing? Is it a motherhood thing? Is it a brand of impostor syndrome? Is it just me? (You can probably guess where I’m going to place the blame on this one…)


This morning, I’m faced with accepting the limitations of what I can deliver to a client. I’m resisting it, because it’s so very hard to accept, what feels like, defeat. In a world where I try to be/do/give all the things I possibly can…realizing my own limitations, and failures, quite frankly, hurts.

It makes me want to run laps around the city in the rain, until my legs and lungs ache and my whole body is burning.

It makes me want to bake tins full of muffins and cookies and then scrub my kitchen clean, until my hands hurt.

It makes me want to do anything…except be still, and give myself and my anxious thoughts, a moment of grace.

But, here I am. Here they are.

And, at least, for this exact moment, I will not be unkind.

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About the Author

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

1 Comment so far

  1. Kathy Bailey

    I’m harder on myself than I am on other people, you Have No Idea, or maybe you do, and sometimes it gets ridiculous. If I take a step back and look at all the things I actually DO accomplish, it mitigates it. But yeah, I know how you feel.

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