Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Kind of Suck (But I Think That's Okay)

I looked at myself in the mirror last night.

And I realized I am not great at anything.

It hit me like a punch in the stomach and came completely out of nowhere. 

I guess maybe I was watching American Idol and remembering my own singing days.  When I thrived on compliments like a sad, little girl starved for encouragement (which I was not).  When I dreamed about being discovered in the most random of places and pictured life on the road, acoustic sets in small venues, making a living if not making it big.

Then I watched this show.  I heard people do things with their voices I never dreamed of.  And I knew I was good.  But I was not great. 

And writing.  How I dreamed of writing.  In the fourth grade a teacher read a paper of mine and told me I should be a writer (although if she read that last sentence she may have changed her mind).  I said, "Okay," and adpoted a new dream. 

As an English Literature major at a small University my professors offered nearly endless encouragement while I honed my writing skills, maturing from a casual writer to master of MLA essays (at least in my mind).

A job at a bank and one unrelated Master's degree later I decided to stay home with my new baby boy.

Two years, another baby, and I found myself practically rewriting my husband's grad school essays, lost in a world of words, painting sentences and stepping back to view the finished product like a work of art.  I felt like a drug addict searching for a thrill.

So I started blogging. 

I loved the outlet it provided for the words building up inside.

But the thing about blogging is that other people blog too.

And they blog good.  They blog real good.

There are people in the blogging world, every day, non-writer people, doing things with their words that I cannot imagine doing with my own.

They are like artists, like musicians.  They evoke emotion and inspire and I absolutely love what they do.

And while they draw tears and laughter they also make me realize that I may be a good writer.  But I am not a great writer (and that is actually not a plea for you to tell me otherwise!).

I was still staring into the mirror when I thought, "Well, at least I'm a great mom."

At which point I literally doubled over, grabbed onto the sink, and thought, "But I'm not great.  I am a good mom, but I am not a great mom."

I know this all depends on your definition of a great mom.  I love my kids more than anything and so want to be a great mom.

But my patience is often very short.  I use the television as a babysitter probably more than I should.  I don't do crafts or bake cakes or host multiple, themed parties throughout the year.  I often look for the shortcut and I only do laundry upon complete necessity (when we run out of underwear).

I am a good mom.  I am not a great mom.

But I want to be great. I really want to be great.

And I got to thinking, still in the bathroom (wiping whiskers off the faucet), that most people are not great.  I mean, by very definition the majority of people cannot be great.  The majority of people are average.  That's kind of what makes them the majority.

So maybe it's not about being great. 

Maybe it is about trying to be great.  Working hard and failing and trying again.  Not giving up and not settling when you yell at your kids or send your husband to work in wrinkly pants of forget the sunscreen on a cloudless, 80 degree day.

What if it is about trying to be great even though you may never get there?

What if that is great?


  1. I feel you on this one. I think that I have come to accept me for who I am... and I don't think I am great either (at anything). I try to be the best mom and person that I can be - and that's all I can do.

    My husband has a harder time accepting things as they are. He is good at many things, but he wants to be great at something (like amazing at something). That's just not reality.

    It might be hard to accept things, but being good is better than being "bad." That's for sure!

  2. Want to know a secret? We all do things we feel guilty about doing and we all make mistakes because we are human and no human is perfect (wouldn't that be awful, being just perfect!). So you are a great Mom because you spend your days looking after your children the best way you can, making time for them and giving them a great start in life.

    I hear you on the writing - I have always wanted to write a book but know now that I am not a good enough writer and like you I am finding blogging a way to get that writing urge out of my system. Yes, there are some great bloggers out there but I have to tell you that you are also a really good blogger. This post you wrote today only serves to prove my point.

    End of my sermon

  3. I could've written this myself. (Except about the singing, I've NEVER been able to carry a tune!) I always thought I'd be a writer some day too, then as life unfolds you find your priorities and expectations shift. And reality is one cruel mother. There are some kick ass bloggers out there and it always gives me pause every time I am about to hit publish because I think "this just isn't good enough" but I love the note you ended this post on, maybe being great is not caving to insecurities and claiming defeat, but continuing the struggle to greatness. Wonderful post. ;)

  4. It takes some of us a few years (or 30, Ahem) to realize that we just have to be happy with ourselves as we are. It's ok to just be ok.

  5. Have you seen the e-mail that says something like this -
    Name the Nobel Peace prize winners of the last decade.
    Name the Olympic winners for the US.
    Then they say name your favorite teacher.
    Name someone who helped you when you were down.
    Name someone who complimented you.
    Who gave you your favorite gift.
    The idea is we don't remember the greats but we remember those who did simple things to help us.

  6. Just found your site from Aging Mommy and plan to follow you. This is a great post. This is a normal struggle for most moms, I think: we are really good at our pre-baby activities, be it corporate career, the arts, a particular hobby. Having a child throws all of that into question. This is why my blog is named Five Amazing Minutes and not 1200 Amazing Minutes - because if we can feel good about 5 minutes in our day, we're probably doing pretty well! It's not that we set the bar that low, but at the end of the day, we are comfortable with ourselves and what we have to offer. :)

  7. Well, I love your blog and your writing, so there. :-)

    I try to just look at the whole package. Lord knows if I looked at every little thing I did, none of it would be great. But when I look at the whole kitten kaboodle, I think things are going pretty swell. It's all about maintaining perspective. Or at least that's what I tell myself when the house is a mess and the kids are fighting and all I want to do is go take a nap.

  8. oh, i think i'd say you're a "great writer."



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