Fun Fact: My husband absolutely loves to go to the thrift store. Possibly because it usually means there is now less stuff in our house for him to trip over, but also because he loves to go inside and find a deal. Our children won’t go with him to “the junk store,” as they call it, anymore because they say he takes too long poking around. He’s brought me home a bread machine, he’s found tools, a beat up old stereo for the garage and countless other “treasures” that he was so excited to show me. His favorite buy was an old water jug that reminded him of when he was a kid. Sadly that met an untimely demise when it flew out the door of the UPS truck, it was a dark day. For the most part he buys the stuff that actually works and was worth the $5 he paid for it. As someone who has a husband with this, shall we say “shopping habit,” I’m always thankful for whatever person donated things that are still in working condition, not completely beaten up, and for the most part functional. In other words, they didn’t give the worst that they had to offer.
A question I have been asking myself lately is “are you giving your best?” When the 8 year old is talking nonstop about an Xbox game, and I am barely paying attention and giving cursory “mhmms;” when the twins are asking me a million confusing questions; when the baby just wants me to stop and really play with her; when my husband walks in the door and wants to share his day with me, am I giving them my best? Asking that question has caused me to put down my phone more and really listen, or walk away from the kitchen mess and snuggle in with a sweet kiddo. It’s been a startling revelation in how often I truly don’t give it my all.
Obviously though, there is only so much one very human wife and mama can do, and I certainly do not think I need to always drop everything and give every single person/thing around me my best. Boundaries people, they’re a life saver! But I do need to make sure that I’m giving my best where it counts, and that I’m willing to step away when I realize it is no longer needed. Sometimes though it can feel like your best really isn’t accomplishing much, or even that it’s being thrown away. Literally in some cases.
The other day I pulled out my brush lettering pens I got for Christmas, and I played. I wrote all kinds of pretty letters and words, and actually made something I was proud of. In order to continue admiring my pretty thing, I put it on my writing desk, where it was promptly discovered by a curious baby who recently learned to climb on chairs. It was crumpled up, chewed on and tossed to the floor. With unfounded persistence, I picked it up, smoothed it out, and put it back on the desk. We repeated this ridiculous cycle for a few days, until I didn’t feel like playing anymore. So, on another note, lately our dog, in his ripe old age of 10, has taken to wandering about the house peeing. Mostly circular patterns, apparently regular old puddles have become too mundane for him. Three times I cleaned up after him the other day, but the third time was the worst. My pretty thing had been in his path of terror, and it had been defiled with a smattering of incontinent dog.
After I tossed it into the trash, I stared at it. I had put thought, and time, and effort into it, and there it sat, nestled in urine soaked paper towels and disinfectant wipes. My American Literature teacher would be proud that I found symbolism in my trash can. Let’s be honest, my best in this instance was some decently nice looking words on a piece of scrap paper. Not exactly something the Smithsonian will want anytime soon, but it was the best thing I had turned out, and I was proud of it. (So much so that I couldn’t let it go without taking a picture, garbage and all. Good heavens.)
Maybe my best isn’t always going to look pretty either. Not too long ago we were sick with that blasted cold that is ruining lives for weeks on end. My best, during the three weeks we had it, looked like easy (read: not really nutritious) meals, quick baths, few words and lots of TV time. But it was in fact, my best. Sometimes your best is a hot mess, but I’m learning that its purpose is not necessarily in the end result, but in the expansion of your capacity and willingness to give it. So I’m challenging myself, and now you, to find even small ways to give the best I have to offer. Who knows, it may look like junk to you, but to someone else, it could just be the proverbial vintage water jug they didn’t know they needed.