“how does she do it all?” she doesn’t.

it isn’t just me.

though sometimes it feels like it’s just me.

when i sit down and say out loud, “how does every other mom do this?! how do they get dressed so cute, manage kids all day, eat healthy, workout, make halloween costumes, earn money on the side, take dinners to families, serve their communities, keep a clean house, improve their talents, share those regularly, and be happy supportive {mentally/emotionally stable} wives and friends??

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how come THEY CAN DO IT ALL?!”

answer: they don’t. they can’t. and NO ONE REALLY DOES.

 

let me give you a few examples of put together women you may or may not have seen…

there is that woman who is all dressed up at the park with her kids. her children are smiling, look like they were recently showered and recently given a GAP wardrobe. That mom is stylish, her hair is done, she’s wearing real clothes, not the workout clothes that you are sporting. you think, “she probably gets out every day. i bet she has her whole day all structured so her kids get the right amount of play time so their little brains are developed and aren’t turning to mush like mine {who are stuck inside far too often}.” what you DON’T know, is the 4 meltdowns she had with her kids before she finally made it out the door. the break that was absolutely necessary before she broke down herself. in her mind, getting to the park was defeat, a situation out of her control that was far too much work in her stage of life. what you don’t know is that this woman is dealing with depression, feels lonely, and is literally sitting and staring, replaying a recent conversation in which she is certain she offended someone.

that friend whose home is ALWAYS put together. bed made, rooms all clean, toys in organized tubs, and floors are even freshly vacuumed. she is also well dressed and put together, when you visit her mid-day, she has a clean house, and has already made it to 4 stores to successfully update her children’s wardrobe and hung them. the dishes and laundry are in route, and about 4pm, without skipping a beat, dinner is started. when her husband gets home and asks “give me the good news today” she replies, so tired, “the kids are alive.” though to an outsider, this is a perfect, very productive day, we don’t see the struggle with her autistic son to get him to preschool, the guilt of spending so much time on all of those things, and the pressure to have it all done and organized. she has stress, anxiety, and feels lonely often. in HER mind, she is so far from doing it all…

your friends’ empty nester mom who posts lots of pictures of all the good she does with her grand kids, all of the things she does for HER business, and her insightful uplifting posts would make you think you definitely could be more grateful and do more for everyone in your life. what you don’t know is that she has practically neglected those grand kids in order to get all of that done. this empty nester looks to her peers like she has it together, like she is doing it all and has the super clean house to prove it. what you DON’T know? she has a rough relationship with her husband that keeps her inside her house all day and leaves her so emotionally drained that she’s just too plain tired to do much else. she cleans and does projects to keep herself busy because she is in danger of a meltdown of HER own. she feels like spending time with her grand babies might cause her more undue stress and strain more relationships.

that fashion blogger you follow with some-teen thousand followers on instagram posts pictures of her amazing stylish outfits EVERY day. you imagine her all dressed to the nines and out with her littles doing fancy things with her fancy friends, and coming home to her perfectly styled fancy house. of course you do, because that’s what she puts out there. what really happens? “crap, i have to post an outfit for tomorrow! quick, take a picture of me in this outfit so i can get back in my puke-ridden sweats!!”  and “ooh, i finally cleaned this office after 6 months of clutter… i’m totally taking a picture of my accomplishment.”} she doesn’t have it together, folks. at least not EVERY day. she obviously has style or she wouldn’t be doing what she does so well… but her life isn’t like you picture it. i promise.

there are about a million things i can stress myself out about getting done:  housework, child rearing, holiday projects, decorating/lack of, making money, working out, not losing it with the difficult toddler/incessant question/meltdown phase, being a good wife, making dinner every night, getting work/church assignments done… it’s a long list. i am just always panicked that i can’t do it all and at the end of the day, there is always something i didn’t do that has me in a huge funk of feeling like a failure.

and yes, lots of that has to do with my perception of what others seem to be able to do, and it does for you t0o, if we are all honest about it.

 

when i mentioned this to a therapist, she didn’t tell me i was stupid.

she didn’t tell me this is “just a phase” and that my difficult kid is just like every other kid giving his mother anxiety… and that i should buck up and bear it.

she told me, “you can’t! you absolutely cannot do it all!”

you NEED helpers, time without kids to breathe, and you need to be NICE to yourself! after a long day of “i didn’t get anything done” look again…

yes, but i have this friend…

“she is built different than you.”

…she’s right. some might actually DO more, make all the costumes, keep up a clean house… yadda yadda. but i guarantee, that mom doesn’t feel like SHE is doing it all.

 

halloween is a great example of that for me. i think about it all month, even months before, in the middle of the million other things, i try to plan out what to do and how to do it. will i make my own, will i order it, will i run to 10 stores until i find what s perfect?

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in the end, something had to give. we went with a superman shirt he has worn 80% of this year, and a fairy bird that i couldn’t help but smile at, though it was really just a throw together.

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halloween reese (1)would it be worth the meltdowns for me to add one more thing in my life and make every costume and spend lots of time and money to make something amazing happen? no, surely not.

i had to let go and have fun with my kids instead of become the insane stress-ridden mom i knew i would become if i got to far into it this year.

it was a great day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the other great example is every mother’s least favorite time: potty training…

after the second 3-week stint of attempting to potty train, when we were almost there and ready to go, when he was peeing every time, but just wouldn’t poop…. after months and months, he’d still pooped only twice. he knew how, we know he knows.

on a day when we were champs me and him, made it to the potty to pee all day, cleaned the house, even took a meal to a friend in need and made lots of appointments. i sat, i worked, i marked all kinds of things off my list. and just before dinner time, it happened. the threenager came out, tears down the face, and poop in the hand.

i melted into the couch. so defeated. what a useless day! all of that work for nothing! weeks and weeks of staying inside and monitoring and cheering and consoling and helping my little boy feel empowered without pushing him… and here he just wasn’t ready. i did something wrong. i wasn’t paying close enough attention. i tried to do too much. no, i didn’t do enough. i failed. I failed.

i put a diaper on him and we both sat and pouted about it until dad came home and found us in our dramatic toddler twin funk.

after he made dinner and helped get the kids down, he sat by me and told me calmly what i HAD done that day. he reminded me of the clean house, the happy kids, the confident kid who was so proud of all the progress he HAD made.

he reminded me of how excited that kid was to tell him about the meal we delivered and how fun it was to be mommy’s helper all day.

i actually had to be told what it was that was on my list. my list is not only too long, it’s often filled with things i don’t need. but, to a person with anxiety, the smallest of things can equal failure. complete, often irrational, failure.

 

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but it’s just not true. we CAN’T do it all. that never was the point of this job.

we don’t get paid for task completion, we aren’t paid on salary. we are given bonuses, at random, and at random increments. just enough to keep us coming back to the job that gives back to us, but not enough to let us go lazy.

it’s work, and it will always be work, but we signed on for this work called motherhood.

 

and maybe it’s why i wept like an infant when i saw this video that so perfectly captures what that feels like…


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Meg

About Meg

I am Meg, a photographer and designer and a wish-i-owned-a-house-er. My husband and I are self-declared foodies and LOVE projects. We blog about food and DIY adventures from sunny San Diego with our two cutie kids and have an apparel line at colormeapparel.com to keep us busy. Email me at colormemegblog@gmail.com to work with me!

2 comments on “how does she do it all?” she doesn’t.

  1. Whitney
    November 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm (3 years ago)

    Pinned, tweeted, and added to my Facebook page. I needed these words today, thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  2. Nicole
    November 11, 2014 at 7:59 pm (3 years ago)

    This is a wonderful post. I don’t have kids but still struggle to do everything I think I should be doing. It all comes down to priorities and following your own goals rather than focussing on expectations 🙂