It’s taken a while, but I’ve decided that I can’t do it all. It has hit me hard lately that the life you see others portray is so closely guarded. No one wants to feel like a failure, so they only share the best of their life. Blame social media if you wish, but I believe that it’s so much more than that.
I think a lot of it also has to do with how segregated our lives have become. No one talks anymore. No one meets for lunch or coffee. Maybe some texts thrown back and forth, but who really wants to type out a whole sob story about why you are struggling with being a wife, mom, or whatever you are struggling with? Who wants to pour their heart out in a 5 min conversation you have in the isle at the grocery store? Face-to-face connecting has sadly become a thing of the past.
So we silently compare alone. We silently compare as we walk away from that 5 minute conversation. We compare when Facebook posts are made. We compare when Instragram shows off someone’s latest shopping spree or vacation. We compare when posts are made on Pinterest. I mean, if someone took a picture of their clean house, it must all be clean, right? No one thinks that maybe the room you see is the only clean room in the house. No one throws out the possibility that a clean house is all they have. Maybe the person posting that has all school age kids that are gone all day and that woman stays home, so that is what they do. Maybe they are a little bit of a clean freak and while their house is clean, their children never get to play because play is messy. There are so many possibilities that contribute to a spotless house that we don’t consider. We automatically assume that she is in the same situation that we are and she obviously has it all together……why can we be like her?
From outward appearances, all looks good. It looks like I’m handling it well. But in my mind, I’m constantly asking, “Why can others do this but I can’t? What is wrong with me? Women all over the world are making this work, why am I different? Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I just need to be happy enough and things will fall into place. Maybe I’m not efficient enough in enough areas to pull this all together”. This internal dialogue has gone on since about month 3 of my returning to work full time.
I couldn’t remember my daughter’s teacher’s name the other day……who does that? Obviously, I’m disconnected from my family. I’m the mom that forgets almost all paperwork that needs to go back to school…..and that’s assuming that I saw it, which I rarely do. When I go through my kids’ folders, there will be a month’s worth of papers to go through and most of the stuff that needs to be returned is waaaaaay overdue.
I frequently have no idea what is for dinner at 3pm. If I would just get back to menu planning, it’d be so much better, but there is always so much more to do on weekends. If I spend time on the weekend to menu plan, then what family time will I miss? What activities will I miss doing with my girls or my husband if I clean my house (which desperately needs a good cleaning)?
None of the things above make me a bad mom or wife, but the comparison makes me believe (sometimes) that I am.
Ladies……why do we do this to ourselves? I feel that in your heart of hearts, you know if you are giving the best to your life that you can. You know if your sacrifices are worth it or if you need to refocus your time and energy. Let me be clear that I have no problems with women working outside of the home…..that is none of my business, you need to do what is the best for you and your family. I’ve just come to the conclusion that for me, and my family, it’s too much for me to be gone 45+ hours a week. I’ve had a hard time deciding that. I felt like a failure when sooooo many women do this every day and seem to have it all together. Why couldn’t I have it all together like them?
All of this leads back to my revelation, I cannot do it all. I have been so hung up on trying to be like those who appear to have it all and do it all for so long that I felt like I was a failure because I couldn’t do it all and keep up with everything while working full-time outside of the home. But I’ve discovered that no one can do everything. It doesn’t matter what their outside life looks like…….no one can do it all. They either have help or they are letting some things go. It’s that simple.
I have finally decided that because I can’t do it all, I will be working from home very soon. I will be blogging (on a consistent basis), freelance writing, and freelance virtual assisting. I will still have a schedule, but I will be working it around my family’s schedule. I will take work when I need it and turn it away when I need a little breathing room. I will take my kids to appointments and practices. I will be present after school and I will have a hot dinner for my family at the end of their day. I will exercise daily.
This weekend I was talking to one of my friends about this very issue. My youngest had on a rain coat (that was way too small, in the middle of winter, that I had forbid her to wear again after she wore it to church last week). I told my friend the situation surrounding the coat while laughing that I swear that I don’t even have time to pay attention to my kids. She had that forbidden coat on and her tights were on backward but at least she was dressed, right? I also told her that I couldn’t remember another daughter’s teacher’s name. Guess what???!!!! There was no condemnation!!!!! She actually said that she compares herself to me because she is a stay at home, homeschooling mom and she thinks that I have it all together. She wonders how I do it all while working full time and she can’t get it together being home all of the time.
I just hope that regardless of where we are in our lives, that we can actually foster relationships. Actually have time to connect with other women. I truly believe that face to face connections help to squash comparison. You can share your struggles and your triumphs. You can offer and receive encouragement. Life is hard, we need those no judgement, pour your heart out type of friendships. I hope that we can have the courage to do what we need to do to be the best we can be for our family, whatever that may be. I hope that we can stop comparing ourselves to other women.
Stop thinking that you are less than and that others are doing it all and doing it better. Be the best that you can be for your family and for yourself. That looks different for everyone…….not better or worse, just different.
I love to be out in the woods with my family and my mom loves to bake with my girls. Neither of us are better than the other because we do things differently. Use YOUR gifts and interests to be the best YOU that you can be.
Different does not equal better or worse…….
Do you share my feelings of comparison? Are you ready to work on yourself with blinders on? You and your family are unique, figure out what works for your family. Will you join me in just becoming the best YOU that there is?