Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Lack of a #Backtoschoolfeast Post

I wanted to do a big back-to-school feast.

I had it all designed in my head--balloons tied to a chalkboard and pencil centerpiece, perfectly set table with delicious food and animated conversation revolving around perfect first days of school.

Want to see a picture? Here.

What do you think? Do you think it turned out like my vision? Do you think people will add it to their Pinterest board as inspiration for their 2016 feast?

I had the best intentions. I really did. It was written in my planner and everything. I didn't know Brad would be in Minneapolis that day when I'd put my grand plan together, and that dampened my enthusiasm for it a little. Then I spent most of the day editing pictures and studying for the GRE (more on that wild hair later) and making cookies and fanning my latest Netflix addition. (How long has it been since you watched Friends? I can't stop.) I also put together some ideas for a new chore chart and ran to Target somewhere in there as well.

Dinnertime snuck up on me like it does many times each week, and I hadn't done anything for a feast. No cute decorations. No balloons. Not even any food prepared. It was pitiful. So instead of a fantastic back-to-school feast, we celebrated with sandwiches from Firehouse (that in itself is something to celebrate around here) as we sat around plateless papers and soda cups and talked about their marvelous first day at school.

Admittedly, I felt a twinge of guilt as I crawled into bed that night. I had failed. However, Brad would be home for dinner Thursday night, maybe we could do it then. With that thought, my brain shut off, I fell asleep until morning came to start the whole cycle over again.

Here's the thing. By Thursday, I didn't want to have a big back-to-school feast. The thrill was gone, and the window of opportunity had closed until next year. I have read with a drop of jealousy about others' feasts and celebrations and back-to-school traditions and worried that my kids were missing out on the fun, wishing I could add my pictures to #backtoschoolfeast. Another year gone.

I was out to lunch with a friend of mine yesterday, an amazingly talented woman who many people admire for her musical talents and her kind, kind heart--everyone who knows her loves her and counts her as a friend.

Halfway through lunch, she asked me a curious question. "How do you do it? How do you do it all and have it all together? I just don't know how to do it."

Wait . . . what? She was asking me these questions? Me, who just the day before had been envying her piano skills and wishing I could sit down and play anything whenever I want.

How could I answer that question? I see all of my shortcomings and my failures and my attempts and . . . everything.

When I pointed out how I admire her piano skills, she quickly dismissed it with a "Yeah, but . . . " I fumbled for something to say for a few minutes, but then it hit me, and it hit me hard. We usually see the best others have to offer and compare it to our weaknesses. This is something I have learned and relearned many times, but somehow I never really internalized its truth until yesterday.

Why do we do that? Why can't we see how marvelous each of us is? Is it because life is hard (hard for everyone in different ways) and we get beaten down by it? Is it because Pinterest, Facebook Instagram and blogs are blips of the good and rarely reveal the bad? Is it because we see others' talents and only see where we lag behind? You know we all put on our best faces and try to hide the worst, right? You don't let me see under your bathroom sink, and I don't show you the inside of my Suburban, and we're both okay with that, right?

It's all of these and more. My experience with the back-to-school dinner feast is a microcosm of the bigger picture. Sure. I didn't make the #backtoschoolfeast. But I did sit down at the dinner table with them that night and talk about their day. I did make them lunches that morning and wash their breakfast dishes while they were gone.

I may not have done everything, but I did my things. I don't think I will ever have a #backtoschoolfeast. If I'm being completely honest, I don't think I could go a whole month without takeout of some kind. But if you made a fantastic #backtoschoolfeast, I probably saw your pictures on Facebook or Instagram or on your blog. And I think it was amazing. You did great. Good job! I'm glad you spent your time doing something you love for the family you love. But your feast feat doesn't diminish my new chore system or her hours at work or her volunteering at school or her . . .  whatever it may be.

Would you do yourself a favor today? Look inside, look outside, look somewhere--and find just a drop of your own amazing. Did you get up on time? That's hard for you--great job! Did you make time for a friend? Well done! Did you complete a Pinterest-worthy project? I'm impressed! Did you make a lousy dinner for your hungry family--and they ate it? Congratulations! At the end of this hard, busy, crazy day, send yourself a text and pat yourself on the back. It doesn't have to be a big thing. It doesn't have to be impressive to anyone else.

"Good job on _____________ today! You rocked it!"

And for the record, I don't know if I'll ever #backtoschoolfeast. But I did get this post written today . . .


  1. I am sure your kids were thrilled with Firehouse! When all of this Pintrest/facebook/blog stuff went crazy I felt that same twinge of "not good enough" but I like to remember my own Mom and my friends Mom's who never EVER did any of this fancy stuff but managed to teach us and love us pretty darn good anyhow. So much of the little successes we have as a Mother we don't or cant post anyway. I have a note in my scriptures that says, If He is the only one that sees it, then He is the only one that matters. So good job on the million things you did do to get the kids all set for back to school!

  2. Good post. I've thought about the comparing thing before but not in this way.....how we compare our weakness to someone's strength. I'll be thinking on this awhile.