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.
FINISH THE SENTENCE FRIDAY IS TAKING A VACATION DURING THE MONTH OF JULY! WE WILL BE BACK IN AUGUST!
Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?
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Stephanie, as my grandmother always said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Seriously, you must being coin something right, because in my eyes you are a true success from the word go and all if all of the above has helped contribute to it, then more power to you!! 🙂
Aw, thanks Janine! I appreciate that!
It’s funny, as I read your post I really didn’t get the sense that you were “failing” in the least. Rather you were trying your best to take care of your family, which is really what we should be doing. Congrats on achieving that blessed state!
all important things babe…and YES the childcare is vital. Dino has been with his daycare since he was six months old…they are a second family and I know we would have all been lost without them.
Oh yes…being in the moment is vital too. Sometimes I get so focused on taking pics of Dino that I’m not really seeing what he’s doing. I have to stop and think about what he sees (his mommy on the computer or phone not really looking at him) …and then I truly focus on him.
great post and you have such an amazing family and rock!
I’m so glad you also have a great daycare that you love! And I totally feel you on the picture-taking. I have to remember to stop capturing life and start living it SO often!
The in-house Montessori concept sounds so interesting! I really hope I can find something like that for my son next year. You’re right, compromises are something we make all the time as parents, because that’s just what life is, right?
We loved our childcare center so much! I’m sure you’ll find the perfect setup for you, too! Thanks for joining us as co-host this week!
Oh, Stephanie, this post means so much to me. I often wonder if I’m doing anything “right” with my parenting, marriage, and life, ha! But your post really normalizes things for me. Which I suspected, I mean I know I’m not that unique in my compromises 🙂 A friend once referred to this hectic time of family life as living in the “trenches” which sounds similar to the bunker years. It makes total sense. We do what we can to GET BY.
I loved your list and related to many things, especially the keeping the house clean (double HA), though I wish I had more time with friends, or perhaps friends to spend time with! I unfortunately let many friendships slide over the child years. It sounds like you really make that part of your life, even if it’s Crappy Hour versus Happy Hour.
Here’s to hanging in there for the post-bunker years! Though I suspect we’ll miss all those toddler Kairos moments (loved that article, by the way! thanks for reminding me about it) and conveniently forget about the Chronos 🙂
Dana, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated your words- thank you SO much! And you are definitely not alone- I suspect we are in the majority, though it often seems like the opposite. 🙂
Here’s to quality child care and loving teachers. I’m so glad Sophie had such a wonderful experience – it really makes all the difference in the world. And you look so adorable in your 80’s do! Love it 🙂
I knew you would get the importance of having those amazing teachers- it does make all the difference. xo
I can totally relate too, of course. I don’t have the childcare aspect, but this FTSF prompt is interesting, because I feel in some ways like I’ve compromised everything!! So, I probably would have written something totally lame like chocolate. I’m not willing to compromise chocolate. 🙂 Great post Stephanie!
I’m with you on chocolate. And good coffee. See, I could have come up with something else eventually!
What the hell are muddy buddies? i must have them. I am right there with you on almost all of your occasional compromises. I try to keep to the 80/20 rule and obey them 80% of the time. There should be some credit for that right? Quality childcare is probably one of the few I stick to as well – they have never stayed with anyone but grandparents – I just can’t handle it. And we are shelling out way more than my parents ever did in the fall for my daughter to go to a private preschool that has an awesome reputation, but I have promised myself that public school is in her not too distant future for kindergarten and I think she’ll learn a lot from the good and bad of that too. I sure did!
Yes, you simply must have Muddy Buddies. It’s Chex, mixed with peanut butter, melted chocolate and covered in powdered sugar. It’s heaven in a bag. Enjoy!
Okay, I’m kind of glad I didn’t hop this week:). We’re still on the road – almost to the end – and I am fragged. I had an idea for a post, but glad I didn’t go with it, because it was not worthy of all the great posts I’ve read. I, too, have a long list of things I wish I didn’t compromise on. The “being present” one is huge and I fail hourly. Oh, I wish I could shut off my mind. Meditation – can’t see it ever happening. I wouldn’t even know how to start!
Those maddening busy brains!!! I’m afraid I’m stuck with mine. Good luck with your re-entry, and hope it’s been a great trip! Good call on sitting on the hop this week. 🙂 🙂
Well, if it makes you feel any better, I couldn’t come up with anything for this post either. I think life is full of compromises. When you have kids, it has to be. As long as those compromises don’t adversely affect the health and safety of anyone, I’m okay with them, too. Mostly.
Yep, me too. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who was drawing a blank with this sentence!
You may not think this post was high quality, but you never know the impact it may have on even just one reader. One mom who is feeling like she is failing at this parenthood gig, one mom who feels like she can’t keep up, one mom who will read this and feel like she’s not alone. I didn’t start blogging until the bunker years were over, but I can relate to so much of what you’ve written here. Things do change as the kids get older, but date nights are still a challenge and my house is not particularly clean. Oh well.
AW, thanks for that Dana. I really appreciate it. I hope you’re right, and at least one person found comfort and validation by reading this.
I’d say you’re doing pretty good, just like the rest of us! I think everyone goes into parenthood with an idea in their head about how it will be and surprise! It’s harder. My oldest is 27, the youngest 6 and there’s three in between those two so I’ve been tired, making compromises and taking what I can get for a long time! It’s really not so bad. In fact, most days, it’s pretty good.
You’re right- most days, it’s pretty darn good. 🙂 I think living in the “taking what you can get” stage for several decades isn’t the worst thing in the world!
Staying present – I REALLY try. But children are trying. Especially when they’re 4.5 and 2 years old 🙂
You’re doing a great job!
You are SO right- those are definitely trying ages! At least we’re trying to stay present- that’s a good start! Thanks, Alison!
I truly believe compromise is the key to surviving early momdom! Had a chuckle over your “yikes” photo. Can you say “normal – land?”
It is pretty normal, isn’t it? 😀
I agree with all these. Compromise is my middle name. Lots of “half-cleans” to the bathroom, y’know? Esp agreed about Couch Time. The husband and I can no longer plots more complicated than those presented on Fashion Police.
Oh, I’m right there with you on the “half-cleans.” And I find myself fantasizing about Couch Time at about 4:00 pm. :p
I LOVE how you finally resolved that quest for the one thing you won’t compromise on (kudos to you, I would have probably struggled to identify that one value and would have probably come to the same conclusion, had I persevered). I did enjoy the journey you took to get there. It’s always so reassuring to realize that you’re not failing and you’re not an exception, as one of your other readers pointed out. The “too busy to meditate” comment made me laugh. I don’t even try to meditate. It sounds like you’re doing well on the not compromising on the values that are important to you given the bunker years circumstances. Love you, friend.
Thanks, friend. Love you too.
I love that picture of Sophie looking in the mirror – so cute! I pretty much compromise on everything too. I have goals, but they so frequently don’t get met, that when they do it calls for a celebration. 🙂
Cheers to that, my sister in laziness!