Yesterday evening we were all getting ready to sit down for dinner. Jason was bringing the meat off the grill, I (Stephanie) was plating the food in the kitchen while the kids were cleaning up toys and books from the afternoon. We set the table and 5 of us sat down to eat–everyone except for Lydia.
Waiting for Lydia is not an uncommon occurrence in our family. Lydia is pretty much my blonde mini-twin. One of the traits that she gets from the Highley side of the family is that she moves at her own speed–most often that speed is “mosey”. That was not the case last night.
Lydia was bustling around, with purpose in her steps as she was picking up and neatly putting away every last toy and book where it belonged. All of the things that her siblings left where they lay to come to the table for dinner. Lydia saw what needed done and worked diligently until it was finished.
Have I mentioned that Lydia is also our resident “messy”? This ties into her deeply creative and artistic nature. She is not one to naturally see order, and organization is not one of her strong suits. Caroline and Ian keep me on my toes and probably know better than I do how to put away our toys and books in their proper place with their Type-A, left-brained leanings.
So, the fact that it was Lydia who was cleaning after everyone else abandoned the task was noteworthy, and I took a moment to thank her for her help and for following through until the job was done. I told her that she was going above and beyond what we expected and we appreciate her effort. She sheepishly grinned and whispered “Thank you.”
Not to be outdone, Caroline immediately piped up, “What about me? I did a good job too, right?”
It’s always present in our lives, isn’t it? We do what is expected, we try to do “good”, but we look around and compare ourselves to those around us and suddenly we wonder if we’re “good enough”. We want the praise that someone else receives, and we compare their extraordinary moments with our moments of adequacy.
Adequacy. We’re hitting the mark. Meeting expectations. We are “good enough”. If everything that we did was extraordinary, it would no longer be extraordinary.
I took a pause to think for a moment how to respond to Caroline, knowing that my response in this moment was worth more than a flippant remark. “Yes, Caroline, you did do a very good job and did exactly what we asked you to do. Lydia went above and beyond and even though we didn’t expect her to get everything cleaned up, she took the initiative to finish the job.”
Somehow it still didn’t seem like “enough” of an answer to her question, but I hope that love and grace will somehow cover over an answer that was adequate, but certainly not extraordinary. I wish that I had the eloquence to speak words of wisdom in everything that I say to my kids, but I just don’t. And I try not to compare my moments of adequacy, such as this, with other moments of extraordinary wisdom that I have heard from Jason as I listen to him speak with one of the kids from time to time, or from other parents who seem to always have just the right words to say–at least when I’m around. Because I know that we’re all just doing the best that we can. And that’s “good enough”.
So, what would you have told Caroline?