Whatever Happened to “Enough?”

What if you did less?

It’s the last week of summer here.

Some of our kids have left for college.

The ones still here need new shoes, backpacks, school supplies. I feel certain no one has completed their summer reading assignments. I sort of lost track of that.

My business is growing. It needs my attention. Today.

My husband works from home. They just won a new contract. He’s working to get all the new systems in place.

My friends’ lives are changing. Some have moved away.

The end of summer means transition time again.

To me, because I’m a school nerd, I’ve always felt like THIS was the season that should be called the New Year. I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. Could there be anything more exciting than showing up for the first day of classes? (My sons don’t share this trait, by the way.)

These few weeks between summer and fall are a LOT of extra work. And that part isn’t so fun. But we don’t have to make it so hard on ourselves. We don’t have to manufacture activities that don’t absolutely need to be done.

Why, for example, do we have to have a “banquet” at the end of everything the kids do? Who thought of this crap? (You know it was a woman. Men don’t hurt themselves this way.)

You can’t just have the banquet, though. You have to have awards, and coach’s gifts. You have to have a cake. It can’t be just any old cake with gross sugar roses, though.

You have to order a custom cake with a team picture painted in special edible ink that no one will eat.

But you can’t just have the team picture on the cake with the special photo icing.

You have to email all the other parents (read “mothers”) and ask them for the BEST picture of the team to put on the special photo icing on the cake that no one is going to eat.

Then, when you get to the banquet, you have to make sure you have gluten-free, sugar-free, and chocolate-free options for all the special delicate people who can’t make it through ninety minutes without their special stuff there. Lord knows, you can’t have one banquet without at least 15 special requests from the 10 people who are going to show up.

And then, you have to take pictures of the banquet. And prepare that slide show of the season. You have to make sure that every kid is in the slide show an equal number of times. And, while you’re doing that, you might as well add the team music and clever captions to the production.

When you get to the gluten-free, sugar-free, chocolate-free, “green” restaurant with the free-range no antibiotics fed pepperoni pizza option (or maybe even tofu-roni), you’re going to need a special area so that you can show the film of memories and have the speeches. Make sure you have filtered water, because tap water won’t work either.

After the gluten-free, sugar-free, chocolate-free free-range anti-antibiotic or tofu free-range pizza topping party with the filtered water, drag your exhausted butt and all your slideshow equipment back home. On the way, discuss with your ungrateful kid what’s next. Maybe even stop on the way home at the office supply store because she wants those new sparkly gel pens, and you want her to blend in with all the other kids.

Whatever happened to “enough?”

If you want to make your transitions smoother, stop adding in extra stuff.

For once, see what it feels like to underachieve.

Pass it on.

P.S.  Now it’s your turn.  In the comments below, tell us this — what one EXTRA thing are you giving up?

photo: flickr, libookperson

 

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25 Responses to Whatever Happened to “Enough?”

  1. Sharon Grimley says:

    Oh yeah, I’m in! Out with the stuff. “Stuff”ing is for turkeys. :-)

  2. Diane says:

    OMG – hysterical! You are so right! The kids have no desire for this end of the year stuff.. Give them ice cream or pizza and they are fine. Move on to the next thing. WE do this to ourselves, creating those moments to put on Facebook to show the world that we are doing “our job.” Who are we working so hard to impress? The kids don’t care… and then we call them ungrateful.

    Really need to say ENOUGH.

  3. Karen Wright says:

    Check out Carl Honore’s book “Under Pressure” – it’s about “rescuing kids from the excesses of the 21st century,” most of which have been invented and created by the parents…..and totally agree, Jen, even though when you start to rebel against the “more” and the “stuff” the less enlightened parents look at you like you’ve got three heads…

  4. You are right on! We cut back big time over the summer and I am so resisting filling life again with such busy-ness, yet is it wrong to not let dance start up again? I’ve said “pick one activity.”. But most activities require multiple nights, and with 2 kids (1 in college), and a growing business requiring many nights out …. I just can’t seem to fill in the registration papers for activities. Advice?

    • Jennifer says:

      You could have her fill out all the parts of the forms she can. I started doing that a couple of years back, and it helps me but also gets them thinking about all the extra stuff that moms do. Let me know if you try it and how it worked out. And, thanks SO MUCH for taking a moment to write in. Jen

  5. Dawn L. says:

    You cant please all the people all the time, so I try to do what needs to be done without trying to live up to everyones expectations (which are really my own twisted perfectionist people pleasing expectations of myself). I can be happy with so little, so I remind myself that “enough” comes early in the planning stages. If I am to enjoy life I must not get caught up in the details, nobody will remember them down the road anyway.

  6. Sandy Morris says:

    Love this Jen! I am certain you wrote it for me! With me this time of year it’s things that if you don’t do them they will be sorely missed: Picking wild berries, canning fruit and veggies for the winter, putting up the chickens that I raised all winter (aka, butchering), putting away the garden, getting firewood for the winter, readying everything for the freezing cold and snow (I live in the frozen Northern wastelands), and then there is Boy Scouts, Halloween and the community Haunted House I am a character in. AAAAAACCCKKKKK!!! I try and tell myself it’s only a few weeks and I will be so glad that I did it! The self-imposed nonsense really arrives full force with the holidays, which I do not look forward to! Thanks for the laugh, as usual, Jen!

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh, Sandy — I did, I did, I did write this ESPECIALLY for you. And your chickens — I’m sending them extra prayers today. Love, Jen

  7. Laura says:

    BINGO!
    Enough is even too much!
    I am saying “NO” and “Hell NO” to those that don’t believe the first “No!”

  8. Wendie says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! I totally agree. Over the years, we have made everything SO much more complicated than it ever needed to be.

    I remember, as children, we exchanged simple little Valentine’s Day cards at school. Now? It’s a whole thing. Kids exchange gifts. Bags tied with ribbon, containing pencils and erasers—little rings for girls and tiny cars for boys.

    Collectively, we have done this to ourselves and now look around and wonder why we always feel so tired and overwhelmed. Own it chickies; take another espresso shot and get back to our days. We did this, we did this, we did this.

    PS- Okay, gotta jump up and down in defense of the celiac community here. Not related to all the unnecessary and extraneous work we create, but related to work we sometimes cannot avoid, I’d ask you to reconsider grouping gluten-free restrictions in with other high-maintenance, yuppie, trendy, dietary requests of the minute.

    Celiac is a real disease of the autoimmune system that is excruciatingly painful for its sufferers. It isn’t some imaginary syndrome, yuppie flu, and has nothing do with with being special and delicate (two qualities that I sorely lack); it does require a very restrictive, exclusionary, and cumbersome lifestyle, that protects us from anemia, osteo, other autoimmune diseases, and cancers.

    I think the food industry has done a disservice in labeling everything “gluten-free”, because they’ve created a perception of “gluten-free” being marketed like the “low-carb” craze of the early 2000s. For celiac sufferers, this is a lifetime deal and it’s about as trendy as a thumbtack.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey, Love. I’m so glad you wrote in. I love the Valentine’s Day story — you are so right about that. As for the food industry’s approach to low carbs and diet trend, I’m not sure how the ball of flame gets rolling on those kinds of things.

      Thanks for writing in. Jen

      P.S. I LOVE your sense of humor.

  9. brett says:

    We foster the wrong things in our culture. Children need down time. They need to get bored. They need to fill themselves up with creative ideas that comes from that empty time, I like to call it floaty time in the pool. We, as mothers, need this time too.

  10. Fran Marie says:

    More than anything kids want PRESENCE! Yours specifically!

    Kids rarely remember things, but they will always remember time with you! I taught myself and my children the value of quiet time, just hanging out time. Now as adults they thank me for teaching them that.

    I never had the need to keep up with/out-do the Joneses. What we had at any given time was always enough for us as long as we were together.

  11. Pippa says:

    I have given up being “responsible” for my children (now teens 13 and 16) doing their homework. It’s no longer my job. My job is to be their Mom. It’s up to their teachers to inspire, cajole, threaten and hold them accountable for completing and turning in their homework. This year, I added 8th grade “open house” to things I no longer do. I no longer collect, read or save the sheaves of papers from teachers explaining their classroom rules, late work and grading policies. Not my problem, I won’t be there. Explain it to the students who will and make it simple enough for them to understand without the assistance of a parent interpreter (read enforcer). Not my job.

  12. Jennifer, you little Rock & Roller, you have a fabulous way of putting our insanity into perspective. I love that about you!

    Quote of the year, “We don’t have to manufacture activities that don’t absolutely need to be done”. ~Jennifer Boykin

    You know my whole mission is about meaningful and significant lifestyle design, and THIS is so ironic…

    …I could not sleep tonight, so I got up with this burning urge to Google Simplicity, which I did. I read a great post, then I hit Facebook and saw your link.

    AAAHHHHHHH, yes!

    To make my transitions smoother, I am not adding any extra stuff, and in fact I am taking away, starting with many of the online services I use for my business.

    I have been simplifying and streamlining for months now, and it feels good! This week I finally decided to cut the strings with a big expensive service that was SOOOO much more hassle than it was worth, one of those “status” companies where peeps say, “Ohhhh, you do business with THEM, you must be doing well”. WELL, PHOOEY. I am too old for this crap!

    Anything that complicates my life goes in the toilet!

    Love and BIG HUGS,

    Margo

  13. Gina says:

    OMG…I love this! And your site. I can’t wait to dive into more posts tonight when I have some time.

    As much as I hate having a full schedule or over committing our family and the kids, it happens. Those moms at school who are in charge of getting volunteers for this and that know that I have a serious disease and will not, cannot say no to their requests.

    Hence, why I’m leading the Wine Fundraiser again this year and putting on my dog and pony at tonight’s Back to School night instead of enjoying it as a parent.

    It’s hard to balance the desire to participate in life and each of our children’s activities, and sit back to savor, be a spectator or take care of us. At least I have a hard time with that. Each year I say I will do a better job.

    Thanks for this post. I’m going to think of it often, I know it! Hopefully it will help me to say no or not now more frequently.

    This reminded me of my HuffingtonPost Women article that just published yesterday on what back to school really means for mom. Perhaps if I said no more often, I’d get a break when they kids are in school.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-rau/back-to-school_b_1889109.html

    Thanks!

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh, Gina, I LOVED YOUR PIECE. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I hope we can connect soon. I’ll send you an email. Jen

  14. Pingback: Feed Our Families Great Parenting Articles for New Fall Schedules

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