Monday, February 5, 2018

Why You Shouldn't Feel Bad About Doing the Bare Minimum

After church ends at 4:00 P.M., sometimes our whole congregation stays afterward for a potluck meal. (We call them "linger longers," because Mormons like to give things cutesy names sometimes.)

Our most recent linger longer had a theme: "Breakfast for Dinner."

We were all supposed to bring a breakfast food item to share, and as the bishop announced it over the pulpit he made sure to point out that boxed cereal is absolutely a breakfast food, meaning we were free to bring that.

Ignoring that part of the announcement, I made a mental note to sit down and do some brainstorming later. 

I'd have to pick out a recipe and think of a way to keep it warm during church until the linger longer, or choose something that was supposed to be served cold.

Then I'd have to make a trip to the grocery store at some point during the week, and carve out some time on Saturday to make something.

But during the busy week, meal planning for the linger longer got lost in the shuffle of running to the dentist, gymnastics, preschool, basketball, and orchestra. Time got away from me and before I knew it, it was Saturday.

Not only did I have no idea what to make for tomorrow, I had no ingredients and more importantly, no time or energy to do anything with them even if I did.

Completely distressed, I poured out all my problems to Phillip, who shrugged and said, "I can pick up cereal on my way home from the kids' basketball games."

I didn't even know how to answer. Cereal? Was he kidding?

My horror must have been written all over my face because he said, "The bishop said we could bring cereal. We're bringing cereal."

"No, no no no," I shook my head furiously. "I thought maybe we'd make a quiche or cinnamon rolls or something-"

Gathering up his keys and heading out the door, he said over his shoulder, "We're bringing cereal."

Words cannot convey the depths of my discomfort with this idea.

Didn't Phillip understand that Cap'n Crunch was a second-rate backup plan for people who couldn't manage to bring something real?? That advice did not apply to us, and more specifically, to me. I should be able to make something fancy for this linger longer, even if it killed me.

Until now, I didn't even realize that this kind of internal dialogue goes on in my head all the time. 

With 6 kids ranging from a baby to a teenager this is the busiest, craziest season I've ever lived through, and my need for convenience has never been greater. And yet the storebought valentines, the boxed dinner, the bakery cookies from the grocery store for the school bake sale  I tell myself those aren't good enough.

Except that sometimes, they are.

The bishop wasn't giving everyone but me permission to bring cereal. He was talking to me. I was not the exception to the rule.

In the end, bringing boxes of cold cereal to the linger longer was fine. There were, of course, people who had the time and energy to bake delicious French toast squares or whip up a batch of homemade granola from scratch. And there were others who, like me, brought cereal.

And together, we made a fantastic meal. Maybe in another season of life I'll be in a position to bring a stack of gourmet buttermilk scones on actual china. Maybe, but not right now.

If you find yourself in the same position as me, overloaded and stressed-out but still feeling the need to go above and beyond because you don't think doing things the easy way "counts," I have one piece of advice for you: just bring the dang cereal.

It's going to be fine.

You don't always have to go above and beyond, even if you feel like you should. And yes, I am talking to you.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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8 comments:

  1. Wow, how this resonated with me! By the time we hit church on Sunday morning, the week has drained me or every last bit of energy. But I totally relate to why you felt, despite even being given license to do so, that cereal wasn't "good enough". Sometimes our expectations of ourselves are so sky-high that we need someone to intervene, for our own good. And even though we want to perform to our own expectations, the chaotic reality of our lives sometimes requires us to lower our standard enough to avoid burning out.

    I loved this, because it's a timely reminder to myself! Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. Thank you, just thank you. I am honestly too tired from raising 4 kids to give you a longer response. :)

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  3. I love this! First off, that y'all do the "linger longer" thing-the young adult group regularly did something like that for several months, but over the falltime it just fell apart, so maybe I should try to start up something like that again.
    Secondly, this totally takes me back to my son's baptism-we wanted to have a small brunchy gathering afterward, and my husband (who is OBSESSED with cereal), decided that we were going to serve our guests cereal. And not even fancy name brand stuff, bu the off-brand stuff that we usually buy. While I thought it was a cute idea, I also cringed a little, and asked my mom to bring quiche and stuff to supplement. In the end, while some people definitely ate quiche and were glad for "foody food," it really wasn't a problem to have cereal and my husband was quite happy! Finally, the timing of this post is pretty ironic because this morning I was standing in the grocery store, prepared to buy ingredients to make homemade alfredo sauce for our shrimp alfredo today...but I saw that premade alfredo sauce was on sale, and I told a lady nearby, "You know what? I'm nauseous and pregnant and have no motivation, so I'm just buying the premade sauce, and it's going to be OK." (and it was still delicious)

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    1. I've been trying to make a lot more stuff from scratch instead of buying the canned versions but I'm kind of burning myself out so I've been doing the same thing lately (I just don't have the excuse of being pregnant or nauseous.)

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  4. I loved "linger longer"!!
    And I'm so glad to hear you just accepted the cereal!! Your perfectionism is being healed! On hold??? Thank you Bishop!! And Phillip!

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    1. In this case I think my perfectionism was more "being held down kicking and screaming by a husband who is wiser than I am," but I went along with it and it all turned out okay.

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  5. Ah, such good advice. Food is important to me so I often have this dilemma. :) But sometimes (always?) good enough is just...good enough!

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  6. We had a family get-together this past weekend, and my mom asked me to bring a snack of some kind. I really wanted to make a dip or something, but in the end I brought store-bought hummus and pita chips. Because we can't do everything, dang it! (And my mom was fine with it and never asked me to MAKE anything, just to clarify. I love my mom. ha.)

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