Let’s just be honest. Women are amazing! We’re pros of problem-solving, masters of multitasking, and heroes of all the hats. A mom can work out of the home while simultaneously holding down the home front. We cook nutritious meals, run a taxi service for our children, craft like crazy, make our spouses feel special, teach life lessons on the daily, and look amazing doing it. Well, mostly anyway. We strive to do all the things, all the time, and very well. In years past I have applauded myself on my ability to multitask. Homeschooling, homemaking, mothering, working businesses inside the home and out. I was proud of myself and all I could accomplish, but I was also tired. I was frustrated, flustered, and many days ended with me in regret for how I had handled the challenges of the day. I mean, I was getting all the things done, but was that necessarily a good thing?
I can’t tell you how many times I would lose my temper with my young children, raise my voice, maybe throw my own temper tantrum (just being honest), and then feel like total crap afterward.
“Why, God?!” I would pray. “Why can’t I keep it together?!”
Years went by. Years, y’all. Years where I prayed to not be short-tempered or frustrated. I would make the conscious decision to take my daughters places, to get them involved in activities, but then I’d be in a bad mood getting us out the door. I was typically fine once we got there, but as the relief washed over me while I watched my children I wondered why I couldn’t feel that contentment all the time.
Some mornings I would wake up feeling anxious or depressed. All the planning made no difference in the difficulty. And I got to where I desperately craved the days where we had absolutely nothing planned. They were a much-needed respite that went by too fast. I kept hearing that childhood went by far too quickly, and I also knew this to be true. But let’s be straightforward here. Many days I wanted to put on fast-forward to get them over with so I could finally relax. Does that sound awful?
At some point, I came to a place where I realized I wasn’t enjoying my motherhood as much as I should. Why did it have to be so hard, so exasperating? Was that just par for the course? Or was it perhaps partially my doing? I had always taken pride in being busy. I think that’s a woman thing. I equated being busy with being productive, and it’s like the more things I could accomplish the more accomplished I was as a mother. But if I was angry and frustrated internally most of the time then what was the point? It was a motive check.
I had always thought that more was better. The more I provided for my kids the better. More toys, more clothes, more opportunities. More activities, more social gatherings, more going places. We may have been going, but I was drowning. I realized one day I felt like I had been treading water for a solid two years, and I also understood that I couldn’t keep it up. I was barely surviving, and my kids weren’t any better for it. There were the things that I thought mattered. And then there were the things that really did. My kids didn’t need more of the things. They needed more of me. They needed a happy mom, both parents working less, and healthy, calm relationships with us. What good was busy if it really didn’t amount to anything of eternal value?
I realized I had to let go of a lot of things. I had to let go of stuff, drop the extra activities I thought made me a better, cooler mom, and understand I wasn’t really on anyone’s timeline but my own. A lot of the chaos and stress in our lives we create, and the real question is why. Why do we create busy lives and equate that with happy, productive, successful lives? And whose standard is it anyway?
Mentally and emotionally, I was slowly killing myself. I loved my children, and I loved doing things for them, but what they really needed was a mom who wasn’t stressed out most of the time. They needed the relaxed, fun-loving mom I knew I could be. I was just distracted from being her by all the tiny, unimportant things that wrongly filled our house, schedule, and priority list.
Each day I’m learning to let go of preconceived notions of how a social media society or misaligned world says I should parent. I’m laying down unrealistic expectations for myself that my children don’t even consider important. No one knows what you can let go of, but you, but I’m discovering it’s always more than we think. To stop, take inventory of what matters, and drop the rest, that’s freedom. I’m learning to smile more, hurry less, and laugh a lot. I’m remembering to not sweat the small stuff, but instead enjoy the small things in life. I’m focusing on family, love, and wherever that takes us.