The prompt for Finish the Sentence Friday this week was, “The one thing I’ll never compromise on is…” (Note to non-bloggers, aka, my beloved, highly revered, much-appreciated “regular readers”- a few times a month I co-host this thing called Finish the Sentence Friday where a bunch of bloggers write about the same sentence and then we all hop around and read each others’ posts. FYI.)
I sat at my keyboard, fingers poised, and I couldn’t come up with a damn thing. As I mentally catalogued the things that I consider important to me, my core values, I realized that I compromise on pretty much every single one of them. It seemed that my daily life was made up of tiny little adjustments to the ideal, a lot of scrambling, plenty of faking it, and an adherence to our family motto of “taking whatever the hell we can get.” Here are some of the things I’d like to say I never compromise on:
- Staying committed to my fitness routine
Reality: Again, I take whatever I can get. Going to the gym a few times a week and taking a weekly yoga or dance class is often replaced by (particularly during the summer vacation months) grabbing a half-hour walk, taking a leisurely family bike ride, doing a yoga video during my toddler’s nap, or spending five minutes doing crunches and calling it a “work-out.”
- Making nutritious eating a consistent priority, buying only organic non-processed foods
Reality: This one is important to me, and we do pretty well. However… our road trip snacks last week consisted of a smorgasbord of bagged snacks– Chex Mix, Muddy Buddies, Fruit Snacks (they were Annie’s, at least!) and we have plain old not-whole-grain pancakes every weekend. Also? I freaking love ice cream, and so do my kids- there is no way I would ever cut that out of our lives. We do the best we can.
- Limiting screen time
Reality: My kids love their TV shows and iPad games. As for me? Screen time is a huge crutch for me. Dinner needs to be made, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, and this blog post isn’t going to write itself. Not to mention the fact that sometimes, I simply prefer to sit and snuggle with my toddler while she zones out in front of Sofia the First. No playing, no chasing, no request-fielding, just mindless snuggling and TV-watching.
- Friend time for Mommy
Reality: I also do pretty well with this. My girlfriends, true to the cliché, keep me sane. But weekly dinners, coffees, or Happy Hours are out the window. Instead, we do Crappy Hour with our kid-family friends, strive for a monthly (or quarterly) kid-free get-together, or have wild parties with the neighbors on our cul-de-sac. We take what we can get.
- Quality time with the Hubs
Reality: Date nights are expensive, require securing (and paying) a babysitter, and duh- we’re tired. So our quality time looks like the two of us slumped on the couch watching TV shows without complicated plot lines while amusing one other with semi-witty commentary. Keeping the spark alive, baby!
- Keeping the house clean
Reality: Stop laughing.
Reality: See above directive about laughing.
- Creating only the highest-quality work
Reality: Exhibit A– this blog post.
- Regular meditation
Reality: A few months ago I made a plan to allot 20 minutes a day for meditation. That didn’t go so well, but I do meditate whenever I can. The ironic thing is, whenever I feel that I am “too busy to meditate,” it is clear that those are the days I need it the most.
- Staying in the present moment
Reality: OK, I really suck at this one, and I really, really want it to be one of those “no-compromise” life philosophies. But I spend a lot of time preoccupied by my inane mental chatter, replaying past events,
having unproductive confrontational fantasiesmethodically strategizing solutions to future problems, and singing the soundtrack of Frozen inside my busy brain. But every so often, I manage one of those brilliant “Kairos moments” (thank you, Glennon) in which I am able to quietly absorb the magnitude of how beautiful my daughters are, inside and out. During a fleeting Kairos moment, I cherish the sight of my toddler galloping down the driveway “neighing” like a horse; I soak up the unbridled joy of what it feels like for her to actually be a horse.
I looked at my list of
failures compromises, and you know what? I felt okay with it. When I reviewed All Joy and No Fun, I was struck by the description of the “bunker years,” those early years of parenting when adults must adapt to their new reality, abandon their previously high standards of perfection, and survive. Our oldest child is almost eight, which would nearly qualify us for graduation from the bunker years, had we not started over with another baby when she was five years old. We are entrenched in those years that are characterized by mess, chaos, fatigue, and doing-the-best-we-can. And I am OK with that.
Right now, the house isn’t clean, I don’t get to the gym often enough, and our children’s ages mean less free time for my husband and I to go out together or separately in the evenings. We are often running out the door in the morning, tripping over piles of pajamas and puzzle pieces, eating our non-organic bagels in the car on the way to school. And I am OK with that. This is where we are right now. Instead of an abundance of unrealistic principles, we take what we can get. We do the best we can.
I did feel a certain sense of sheepishness as I realized I was unable to come up with some truth, some value, on which I was unwilling to compromise? Not swearing? Nope. Never raising my voice? Um, not so much. Avoiding judgment and criticism? I wish. So did I ever come up with something on which I am unwilling to compromise? YES. Finally. The one thing I’ll never compromise on is…. quality childcare for my children.
Last year I wrote about how fortunate we are to have an amazing in-home Montessori childcare for our toddler. In September, Sophie will turn three (sob), “graduate” and move on to the same Montessori preschool (which is equally amazing) that her sister went to. We are so grateful to know that this bittersweet transition will be eased with the knowledge that her new preschool is another loving, nurturing environment, staffed by gifted, excellent teachers who are committed to their work.
Our current teacher, Teresa, is also moving on from her childcare facility, First Steps, in the fall. I am so grateful that Sophie was able to complete her toddler years there, as I cannot imagine having sent her anywhere else. Teresa changed our lives by providing the most generous, cherished gift anyone can give to parents: a safe, loving environment in which their children can learn and grow. The word “gratitude” doesn’t even come close to how we feel about Teresa and the experience both of our daughters had in her care. Teresa, we will never be able to thank you enough. For anyone who is curious about the in-home Montessori childcare experience, you can read my post about it here. We can’t say enough good things about the independence our children learned, the friendships they made, and the social and life skills they acquired.
Surviving the early years of parenthood– which are also enormously gratifying– can be challenging and full of compromise. If there is only one area of life right now on which I am unwilling to compromise, I feel good about it being our children, and their care, growth, and learning.
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This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday.
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