Picking Your Battles…Or Berries. Or whatever.

Sometimes I get in over my head.  I am learning that old cliche’, “pick your battles,” might have become cliche’ for a reason.  I am trying to recognize my limits — the need for adequate rest being one of them.  I’m not 19 anymore – I can’t function on less than five hours’ sleep.  I just can’t.  Not as a rational, patient human being anyway. And since I’d generally like my mothering years to be heavy on the patience and light on the irrationality, I’ve got to make sure I recognize and honor my limits, for my own sake and the sake of my family. I have a feeling that as the needs of myself, and my husband, and our children continually change, my level of commitment to these areas will greatly vary.  That’s ok. I just have to know which battles to fight with myself, and when.

So last week, when I went grocery shopping and saw that strawberries were on sale for $1.99 a quart, I tenderly put my hand on the display case and allowed myself to daydream a bit.  I saw myself looking through Superman’s late mother’s old recipe box, finding a recipe for strawberry jam, and learning it by heart.  I saw my daughters helping me wash and cut up the berries, laughing as we talked about how delicious the jam would be once it was ready.  I saw them licking spoons and helping me pour our jam into mason jars.  I saw a tear roll down my husband’s cheek as I presented him with fresh jam made from his mother’s recipe. I’m pretty sure the character “Chubs” from Happy Gilmore was playing a Carpenters tune on the piano, with sunlight streaming through the trees.  I was determined to make it all happen.  I bought those berries.  I was gonna make ALL THE JAM.  And lo, it would be perfect.  All I needed was an entire day to devote to the project. “All I needed.”  *insert foreboding music of doom here*

And then, as it always does, life happened.  The strawberries sat forlornly in the fridge.  Not today, I thought.  We have Mass and then I need to get some housework done.  Not tomorrow either, I will be at work for ten hours.  Well, next weekend could work.  Maybe I will freeze them when I get some time this week, and that way they won’t spoil before I need them…

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, when Superman texted me to say he was making pancakes for supper.  Awesome, I thought.  I have those strawberries.  I can make jam.  WAIT!  Jam-making is a multi-hour process!  Which is why I haven’t done it in the first place!  Because it has to be perfect, remember? And the only way it can be perfect is if I have a whole day to devote to this process!

I arrived home and after a few minutes of hunting, I discovered Superman’s mom hadn’t saved a recipe for jam.  Also, many of the strawberries had gone bad waiting for me to use them.  Of the two quarts I’d purchased, very few berries were salvageable.  I was sooo frustrated, and my attitude went south. I grudgingly found a recipe for 15 Minute Jam on Pinterest, substituted a cup of raspberries for the cup of strawberries I was now short, and bemoaned that that I had to use bottled lime juice vs. fresh.  I was so cranky about the whole process that I didn’t even enjoy making the stupid jam.  It was a chore. Chubs was playing an angsty Alanis Morrissette song, and I was the one who ran to my room in tears.  OVER JAM, people.  JAM.

Lessons Learned:

  • 15 Minute Jam is a misnomer.  It’s more like 45 minute jam once you let it cool.  But it’s delicious.
  • It’s ok to cut corners.
  • It’s ok to cut corners as your Plan A and NOT your Plan B, especially if perishables are at stake
  • Jam is yummy delicious no matter how its made.
  • My time would’ve been better spent just making the jam the easy way to begin with, than to let the berries go bad while waiting for all the conditions to be met to have my perfect jam-making session.
  • Newly discovered boundary: my desire for perfectionism can, at times, completely paralyze me.
  • Reminder of previously known boundary: if I procrastinate due to perfectionism, I have to be ok with cutting corners and the consequent results
  • Crying over jam is lame.
Who says jam-making has to take all day?
Who says jam-making has to take all day?

So yeah.  Next time I am overly jazzed about a potential must-do activity, I’m going to make sure I add a little pre-project analysis to my daydreaming.  Will my preparations or execution of the project upset the order of my home to an extent that is harmful, to my soul or my family’s souls? (ie, yelling, bitterness, a marytr attitude, etc?)  Is there a way to lessen the project’s scope so as to put less pressure on me (ie, can I purchase a cake from a bakery vs. baking one myself) while still achieving the desired result?  Are the expectations I am setting up for myself realistically attainable without breaking the 1st, 3rd, and 5th commandments? I think these are some important questions that might help me discern which things to pursue and which things just aren’t feasible.

Have you had similar learning curves in your motherhood?  What are your boundaries?  Do you find that they change over time?  Share your thoughts with me.


3 thoughts on “Picking Your Battles…Or Berries. Or whatever.

  1. I can so thoroughly identify with a lack of thorough-going analysis while I’m allowing myself to daydream at the store. Though my store of choice is generally Hobby Lobby, and not the grocery store, which is why I have a whole dresserful of yarn I haven’t used yet……


  2. Yes, yes and yes! I have recognized that my own tendency toward perfectionism can rob the joy and the sweetness out of the jam. At the very least there is less of it because I too have waited till the perfect time (what on earth is that anyway?) or had unrealistic expectations. So, as I entered 40 a new found freedom emerged where I found joy in letting go of the outcome to enjoy the journey. There are definite benefits to aging! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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