I don’t know about you, but my typical days start with wet hair, an empty stomach and dropping the kids off at school a few minutes late. Throw in a little whining, a little crankiness and a lot of “Mom! We need money for xyz!” as we’re pulling out of the driveway (and, yeah, I don’t carry cash) and you have my normal Monday-Friday.
The middle is different every single day but they always include a varied mix of stress, anxiety, deadlines not being met, answering angry calls and emails, tracking down sources, attending meetings, going to class two days a week, meeting friends for lunch twice a week, editing copy and layouts, planning for upcoming publications and the surprise things, like hearing about an emu running loose on the highway while you’re at lunch or having a train derail or any number of things.
The evenings, if you can believe it, are often more stressful. Sometimes I have meetings to attend, for instance (one every week for three weeks), even though I’d rather be at a community bible study. Sometimes Jaiden has HOURS of homework to do. Most of the time Jenna is cranky and belligerent and uncooperative, Jaylen’s whiny, Jaiden’s instigating arguments, they’re all fighting and tattling, the dogs are all going crazy and I’ve forgotten my Zoloft. Every time I tell them to get in the shower they complain and throw a tantrum. Every time I tell them to get in bed they stall.
And then, my evenings. I like my alone time. Or my time in which I am free to do things that do not consist of parenting or homework or whatever. I don’t know the last time I actually watched television (other than Redbox movies or catching up on Downton Abbey on the Internet while doing other tasks).
It’s exhausting. And this is with help because we’re still living with my parents. My dad does all of the cooking, so I don’t usually have to do that. My parents pick the kids up on Mondays and Tuesdays (and quite often on Wednesdays, when I have to work late, too).
This is our life right now.
I feel like I’m being pulled in a thousand directions, and it will only get worse when we move out on our own.
I worry that I won’t be able to Do It All. In fact, my therapist and I had a session all about this a few months ago, one that began with me rattling on and on about my commitments and my responsibilities and my anxieties.
“I just can’t live up to the pressure,” I cried. “I can’t do it all!”
His response has become an interruption in my daily inner monologue, you know the one where I list my to-do items and want-to-do items, things I need to make happen for work and things I will never be able to make happen for all the tea in China.
“Who says you have to?”
Ponder that, my mommy friends: who says we have to do it all?
And we can also let ourselves off the hook, too.
My insurance company and I paid a lot of money for that little tidbit of advice, but I am sharing. Take it with you. Remember it. Slow down. Make priorities and concentrate your efforts. Remind yourself that the quality of your work suffers when you focus too much on quantity, but that quality is what counts with your children and your family.
I’m prone to getting overwhelmed and that’s not going to change, but with a little effort, and with reminding myself I’m not expected to be able to do everything, trying to do what I can will be a little less stressful.
This post first appeared on Echo Day’s blog, Life’s Like This, on April 1, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Echo Day. Not to be republished without written consent.