If you're a mom, you know it's a myth that moms can do it all, and yet at some time we've all bought into that myth, or piled on mommy guilt because we don't want to buy into that myth but we do anyway...
Because we can do it all.
(Or at least we can try.)
The tragedy is that sometimes in the process of doing it all we get burned out. Tired. Depressed. Anxious. Irritable. Resentful.
And our families, the ones who need us most, are the first to suffer.
We really can't have it all, or do it all.
Not all at once anyway.
Once when my babies were younger (back then I had one 2 year old and 2 babies), Tim was out of town and all three of my little ones were sick. I cried to him over the phone. I'm sure there was a little guilt-tripping involved...me trying to make him feel a little guilty for being in a clean hotel room with maid service while I was home with three sick children under the age of 2.
One set of arms.
Piles of laundry...
Being the fix-it dude that he is, as soon as he got off the phone with me, he called the neighbor and told her I needed help. Then she called another neighbor. Before I knew it, I had piles of laundry, dirty dishes, sick babies, and neighbors at my door. Neighbors who would see my messy house and...
I guess I'm not exactly sure what the and... would be.
They'd know I was normal?
They'd know my sick babies needed an extra set of arms to soothe and comfort them?
They'd know (gasp) I wasn't perfect?
To this day I have a vivid memory of my neighbor grabbing a broom and starting to sweep my very dirty floor. As I stood there protesting and apologizing for the crumbs all over the kitchen floor, two of my children were clinging to my legs, crying for me to hold them. Being a mom of two babies, I did the only thing moms of two babies can do (it's that one set of arms thing again)... I sat down on the floor where they were to let them crawl into my lap. As I did so, my neighbor sank down onto the floor with me (onto my very, very dirty kitchen floor), and as we sat there leaning against the cabinets with babies crawling back and forth between us, she told me about seasons.
As a mother of eight children (the youngest then eight or nine years old), she'd been there, and in a very gentle manner passed her own mommy wisdom onto me.
"Life happens in seasons," she told me. "I remember being where you are, and people helped me, and now I'm in a different season, and I want to help."
In a very gentle way she sent a clear message I needed to hear.
My babies needed me to need help.
By selfishly thinking I could do it all, I was depriving them of an extra layer of love and support when they most needed it.
Over the next few days as Tim was gone, she and the other neighbor who Tim had called both sent their young girls to my house to help hold sick babies, who wanted nothing more than arms around them when they weren't feeling well. The young girls who came to help were in baby heaven, and my little ones loved the extra attention.
Did I say I am also a therapist?
Here's the therapy session for the day...
Repeat after me:
I can't have it all.
I can't do it all.
I can't be everything to everyone, at least not today.
Life happens in seasons.
In this season I will... (Fill in the blank with your greatest priority.)
In my next season I hope to... (Fill in the blank with all those things that you're trying to do now that are taking away from the season you need to be in.)
When I try to do it all at once (mental image of wearing a swimsuit while skiing in the winter) the people I love the most are the ones to suffer.
Be kind to yourself. Go take off either the skis or the swimsuit, whichever is appropriate, and enjoy your season!
More about mothering.