"How do you manage it all with kids?"
A friend of mine recently sent me an e-mail asking this question. She was specifically asking about time management, I think. How to fit in working, taking care of the children, and maybe even a workout. Or God willing, an uninterrupted shower.
I really had to stop and think for a minute. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Heck if I know. But hey, if you figure it out, let me know!" But I really wanted to be a little more helpful than that.
I think that as mothers, or just human beings in general, we're always comparing ourselves. Maybe comparing ourselves to the mom of 6 who somehow has retained her figure, or the mom blogger who appears to have it all together, or maybe we're just comparing ourselves to the ideal mother that we aspire to be; who we expect ourselves to be.
The truth is, I don't manage it all. I have piles of junk mail on my counters. I haven't dusted my living room in months. I'm always afraid I'm going to find something alive when I'm doing laundry because some of it has been sitting there for so long. I haven't exercised in weeks. The list goes on.
The other truth, which I sometimes have a hard time accepting, is that I CAN'T do it all. We are women of a completely different generation. We want it all. We want family fulfillment, we want a career, we want hobbies, we want unending stamina, we want to be able to do everything and we want to do it NOW. We redefine the word "overachiever." We are redefining motherhood. Which sounds really great and wonderful and inspiring. And it is. But at the same time, it isn't. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Sometimes it's belittling. Especially when you can't exactly fill those ever-growing shoes.
I think discernment is something that we really need to take a better look at. We were all given the graces, the patience, the skills, the talents to be the mothers and wives that God created us to be. So prayer is definitely needed. Not just prayer as in asking God to puh-LEASE give me the patience to deal with this temper tantrum without flipping a lid. I mean prayer as in, God, this is what I WANT to be doing right now, but is this really what I SHOULD be doing? Is this what you want me to be doing and is this how you want me to be doing it?
In my response to the friend who e-mailed me, I used the example of exercising. I love P90X. I mean, I really, really LOVE it. I love how I feel afterward even more than I love the results I see in the mirror. The problem is that the workouts are 90 minutes long. Ninety minutes is a long time to be exercising when you have unpredictable little people in the house. Many times I would get 20 minutes into a workout and the baby would start fussing.
This is the nature of having young children. I needed to accept that 20 minutes was all I was going to get that day. At first I found myself getting annoyed, angry, and frustrated. Not with the baby, just at the fact that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. Eventually I learned that I needed to be okay with that 20 minutes (hey, it's better than nothing) and just try again tomorrow or the next day.
It was pretty clear where I needed to be at that point. My baby needed me, plain and simple. I'm not going to look back on my life and wish that I had exercised more, or baked better bread, or made all of our clothes from scratch, or any of that. I'm going to look back on my life and remember the gushy feelings of a sleepy baby in my arms, being relieved that my 4 year old still wants me when he gets a boo-boo and yet totally terrified that someday very soon that will all change. I'm going to remember the moment that I understood that there is something completely blissful and holy about kissing baby feet. I'm going to remember watching in awe as these personalities, so different, so pure, so fascinating, develop right before my eyes.
John Lennon was quoted saying, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."
Better yet, life is what God throws in your face when you think you know better than he does.