Friday, September 19, 2014
Dear Mom Who Can't Quite Do It All
Sometimes, I wish for the simplicity of motherhood in an earlier generation.
I'm not saying that our mothers and grandmothers had an easier time than you and I did. I'm pretty sure that moms were just as busy, just as stressed out, and just as concerned that their offspring might kill themselves jumping off the couch. Being a mom is just plain hard, no matter what decade you find yourself becoming a first-time parent.
However, there's no denying that life is moving at a much faster pace than it did in earlier times. We as mothers are expected to keep our kids alive and fed, volunteer for school and church functions, host family gatherings and birthday parties, plus all of the other endless, mindless tasks like laundry, dishes, and yard work - while also updating our world of "friends" via social media with our latest feelings, photos, causes to support, and cute stories about our kids. A lot of moms don't get the option to stay home with their kids as I do - but a lot of us who do call homemaking our primary job are still attempting to help increase the family income, whether it's through blogging, direct sales, teaching piano lessons, selling crafts, or any variety of things. And all of those things piled on top of the "normal" responsibilities of being a mom are super, super overwhelming.
This is just me being honest, you guys. There are not enough hours in a single day to do all the laundry, clean the sink, wipe down the counter, feed the kids three respectable meals and a "healthy" snack (ie, whatever you have on hand that isn't pure sugar), read fourteen books about a giant red dog, break up arguments about who gets the blue cup with the yellow lid, let them help sweep the floor, change all of the peed-on sheets, write an encouraging blog post and blast social media five times with a variety of interesting and intriguing messages, list five new things on Etsy, sew that dress for your daughter that's been on the kitchen table in pieces for five weeks, figure out where the smell in the kitchen is coming from, pick the melons from the sea of grass and chiggers in the backyard, do an educational preschool craft project, and potty train the two-year-old. It is simply impossible.
The sooner we accept that that's okay, the sooner we can begin to appreciate the small things about being a mom. You know - the way your daughter squeezes your neck when you save her from a spiderweb on the dusty piano bench. Or the way your little boy says "hold me up!" when there's a cement truck driving down the street and the view from the couch by the window is not good enough.
I don't have any advice on how to get everything done, because to be honest, I have no idea. Most nights I go to sleep thinking that they can't have learned anything positive in the midst of all our day-to-day chaos. I worry that their emotions are being overlooked, that their tummies did not get enough vegetables, and that they sounded like they were snuffly as they finally went to sleep.
I have a confession for you: this mom who can't quite keep up? It's me. I don't care to admit to you how many times I have recently let my kids watch a movie so the house stays relatively clean while I put away four thousand pieces of clean laundry. A lot of the time, it is just easier to put them in the stroller or their car seats when bedtime comes around since the motion lulls them to sleep without my having to hear whining about which blanket they have or how reading only three books isn't fair. Does anybody else know what I mean when I talk about the extreme sense of relief that overwhelms your soul when those adorable little kids are sound asleep in their beds (or your bed...or the couch...or the car...wherever, really. Just so long as they are asleep)?
It's looking like being a mom is just about finding a balance and enjoying the short time you are given to be with your little ones. Some days, you may feel on top of the world and cross thirty-three items off the to-do list - and other days are successful if everyone had on a diaper or underwear for at least 60% of the afternoon. I just want you to know that you're not alone.
Take a deep breath. Smell that newborn's neck. Read the Clifford book for the fifteenth time. Teach them how to wipe up pee off the floor, when they were potty training and in the 40% of the time they were without pants. Give them abundant kisses. Pray for wisdom and patience. Let the laundry pile up six feet high. Order takeout if you can afford it, or maybe even if you can't sometimes. Celebrate little moments - because they're actually the big ones, in the long run.
It's okay to not do everything. Anyone who tells you that they had a perfect day and did all the things on their list, then took cookies to the neighbors, too...they're either lying or crazy. Either way - tell them next time, those cookies had better show up at your door instead.