Celebrating the Ways I Fail

Here are three things people never say upon visiting my home:


  1. “Wow, I sure wish I had your eye for decorating!”
  2. “Man, your house is SO clean!”
  3. “Can I ask– who does your landscaping???”




And, when I dwell on that, it makes me sad.  It makes me frustrated.  It makes me feel, very much, like a failure.


Because, the thing is– I could do any of those things.


While I might not be blessed with a natural eye for design, I am certainly capable of researching and sourcing and putting something together.  But I don’t.  I happily slap up paint colors that make me smile and half-heartedly attempt to find things that coordinate, but I don’t spend more than a moment worrying about details or accessories.  And I fear it shows.


Our yard?  Is kind of pitiful.  Neither my husband nor I enjoy working outside AT ALL.  Fussing in my garden?  I’ll do that.  I’m getting FOOD out of the deal, after all.  Running through the sprinkler?  Sign me up!  Backyard soccer game?  My hubby’s all over it!  But… trimming?  Weeding?  Planting flowers or shrubs?  Um… yeah, we just don’t make much effort in those departments.  And, again… it shows.


Finally– the cleaning.  My house is not filthy.  It is not appalling.  It is also never spotless or squeaky clean.  Little hot spots of clutter exist even when I’ve made it “company ready.”  My long hair combines with cat fur and dust and crumbs to linger here and there and it’s a never-ending battle to keep it in control– one I don’t do a very good job of winning.  I could absolutely do better in this department.  But the simple truth is that I don’t take the time to do it.


I hate admitting those things to you all!  I hate acknowledging that I could absolutely do better in these departments, but I don’t.  It can make me slump my shoulders in defeat to realize that I have never been known for those qualities, and there’s likely no one out there looking up to me for my obvious talent in those areas.


Periodically, I get myself all disheartened and frustrated about this and make (hollow) vows to change.  I commit to a better plan and become determined to rewrite this story until I can be admired for those three things.  It even works sometimes, for a little while.


And then I see other areas falter.  And a gentle voice whispers through my mind, reminding me of the three things I DO hear from people who visit my home:


  1. “It smells great in here– are you baking?”
  2. “You look wonderful.  And happy.”
  3. “Your kids are so well-behaved.  You have a right to be proud.”


And, you know, all those things are just as true.  Because I enjoy baking, exercising, putting effort into my marriage, and focusing on mothering, I tend to forget that those things take time.  And energy.


We all tend to fixate on where we don’t “measure up.”  There’s someone out there who is, no doubt, doing it better.  And that is such a burden to carry.  The real question is… why are we shouldering it?  Who really wants us to carry it?


Today, I want to encourage you to ponder where you’re devoting the bulk of your energy.  Is it going toward the things you value?  If so, pat yourself on the back instead of beating yourself up for the things that aren’t getting done.  If not, consider– is there something of less import that you could let slide for a bit?


This isn’t meant to offer excuses.  I do need to grow and improve in those first three areas.  But you know what?  If no one EVER compliments me on having a great yard, I am totally okay with that.


And so are my well-behaved children. ;)


So tell me… do you ever feel like a failure for the areas where you don’t “measure up”?  Where do you shine?

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13 comments to Celebrating the Ways I Fail

  • Molly

    People admire my apartment because it’s got some great features – a wonderful kitchen (and island! awesome for baking), a nice deep bathtub, and a huge balcony. These are hard to find in the city!
    But what I really want? To have that first #2 comment – “Your house is so clean!” Why? Because I want to be like my grandma. I’m named after her, and I see her qualities in me, and that’s one I want to get to.

    • I think it’s awesome to have a goal to aspire to, Molly! And I really do hope to grow, somewhat, in those areas with time. But I’ve finally let go of the idea that I need to excel in them. And that is very, very freeing. :)

  • I’m with you – especially in numbers 1 and 3. I do the cleaning thing, but it’s more out of control and OCD – not always healthy (and even then, my house is not spotless).

    All these things are about appearances, in my book, and I try not to worry about keeping up appearances. I’d rather spend my time with my kids and husband than getting a lot of yard work done or redecorate the house. And those two things especially cost money. Since I’ve moved into this house over six years ago, literally all our nearby neighbors have redone their lawns and landscaping, sometimes multiple times. My husband and I looked into it, but it just costs too dang much to make it worthwhile. So we have weeds that our neighbors are constantly battling because their so worried about their pure-grass lawns (I do feel a little guilty about this, because I don’t enjoy inconveniencing our neighbors). However, we have the most drought resistant yard in the neighborhood and we never water it – ever (we live in once the most expensive towns for water in the universe), and it looks more even and greener than all our neighbors yards put together at the height of summer, even though they water obsessively. We’d rather be playing in our yard than working in it. We do mow the lawn (reminder to self: need to buy a new mower soon), and we keep a few bushes and plants.

    And as for interior decorating, we have two boys and even though they are well-behaved, they do like to move around a lot. So we give them lots of space, give stuff away as often as possible to keep down the clutter, and don’t worry if the furniture gets scuffed or the walls have black marks on them. Our house definitely has a lived-in look.

    I’m not even going to attempt to improve in those two areas because I don’t see the need and would rather spend my time and money on other things. Like loving and serving my kids and husband and community.

    • Amen, Mandy! I totally agree with where your priorities are at. I’m not, of course, saying that people with gorgeously decorated homes don’t also love and serve their families– of course not! But, for me, it’s just not a natural passion and my energies are better put to use in other ways. :)

  • mlearley

    WOW! Your three are exactly mine and I try not to beat myself up over the appearance of our house but it’s hard. However, we have a happy marriage, our kids are well-behaved so I should focus more on those! Thanks for posting this, great reminder!!!

  • mlearley

    Too bad you live so far away! ;c)

  • ha my company ready house has clutter too. I think those people who have awesome yards they do themselves actually enjoy that sort of activity just as you enjoy baking. I have bulbs in giant pots because I want it to look all flower gardeny, but I do NOT enjoy tinkering in the dirt.

    • I bet your flower pots look lovely! And you shouldn’t have the weed issues that way. :) I’m so weird… I refuse to put any effort into growing flowers, but I have no problem working in my vegetable garden. I think I subconsciously value food over beauty or something… ha!

  • Lori

    I am with you. I am allergic to grass and I admire the yards around me that look so good, but I know that its not my area of expertise. I could definately do better with cleaning, but it will just get dirty 2 seconds after I clean, ha! I love to cook, but I wish I baked more often, its just not something I’ve had time for. But I do have a happy marriage, and a fairly well behaved 2 year old, and I love to serve others in my church.

    • I think your three “strong areas” are far, far more valuable and significant than having a clean house, Lori. :) Good for you for doing such good work within your church! That’s another area where, while I’m not “lousy” at it like I am with some things, I could definitely grow… and it seems far more far-reaching and vital than having tidy end-tables. ;)

  • Cynthia Baggett

    Just the other day I was fretting about how I couldn’t keep the mess in my house under control, how I was such a failure, etc., etc., etc. In the midst of these thoughts, my daughter’s friend (who lives in Perfect House with Perfect Yard down the street) said, “I always like to come over here because your house is so fun and colorful! My house is just boring and brown.” She made my day!

    • I love this story, Cynthia! And how lovely of your daughter’s friend to speak so openly and honestly… more of us (fully grown ones, especially! ;) ) need to learn to do this, I think. I’d take fun and colorful any day!

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