I have gone back and forth with writing this post for over a month. It’s one of those topics that seems so obvious, such a ‘duh’ concept, and yet I struggle with it ALL the time. And I don’t know if it is just because it’s been on my mind, but I’ve seen the struggle arise is so many of my friends in such a short span of time that I am thinking, maybe it’s not just me. Maybe it really does need to be said…. so here it is:
Dear Mamas, you can’t do it all.
See? It seems like such a given, right? I mean, of course, we wouldn’t expect any one person to be able to absolutely everything! Except, we do. I do. I expect that I should be able to do everything for my kids, everything for my home, for my husband, be available for my friends, for my church, for my job, and then maaayyyybe for myself. And the second I feel like I am not being all things to all people, I start breaking.
Several weeks ago, I received a text message from a dear friend who was struggling. How familiar are these words of hers?
“I feel like I am having a breakdown and I don’t know what to do. I’m feeling like a total failure in motherhood and in life and it’s all coming to a head. And I can’t stop weeping…”
How many of us could give a massive “ME TOOOOOOO!”? *raises hand… with glass of wine firmly clutched*
She went on to tell me all the things that were weighing heavily on her: the baby didn’t want to be put down at all that morning, the older kids were having too much screen time and not enough outdoor play, her husband had to pick up her slack and do “her jobs” because she couldn’t, which got her second-guessing her ability to do, well, everything.
As I began encouraging her in how wonderfully she “wifes” and mothers, I began to realize how much I often need the same truth spoken to me! Especially in times of struggle. I have been mostly immobile for the past month due to a back injury. I have not been able to drive, or hold my baby, or clean my house, or cook food, or walk normally since the last week of December. My kids are having to do all the housework, my husband is having to carry his full load of responsibilities plus all the things that usually fall under my umbrella. It’s exhausting and extremely frustrating. I feel like I am wasting away, and good for pretty much nothing.
So please allow me a moment to speak truth to all of us. To remind us of why we do what we do even when we feel like we have no business doing it…
First thing is first…. You are an incredible mother. You have been chosen for these very specific relationships to demonstrate the goodness and character of God in all seasons. Maybe the most important of those seasons is how He loves us through our despair and ministers hope in times of exhaustion.
It is OK to be real with your limits. It is good to know what you can do and what you want to work on and what is just not a priority at all. And understand, all of these things ar seasonal! The phase of life that you are in right now might be crazy! You have tiny people demanding your attention and depending on your to fulfill their every need, every day. You are on call all the time. Why do you expect that you should be able to take care of your kids, clean your house all the time, shop, cook, serve your community, look presentable, nurture friendships, spend time with the Lord, have a hobby, read a book, love your spouse, and anything else you think should be added to that mountainous list?
We have such high expectations on top of the already super high and real demands on us as moms/wives. It won’t be this way forever. The kids will grow and allow you more time to do what “needs” to be done and that will be awesome! But for right now, it is OK to just do what you can do.
There are things I hate about myself as a mom. For example, I am NOT an outside mom. Outside stresses me out, and I know that’s not OK. I know outside is important and healthy and so beneficial. I love being outdoors myself! But my anxiety levels skyrocket for whatever reason when we go outside together. So for now, at least while I have little ones, outside time is Daddy time. Or Auntie time. Or special occasion time. And I have to believe there is grace for that.
Understanding phases of life and the grace we are given to get through each one in vital! And not comparing to other moms who are REALLY good at momming and can do all the things we wish we could do with our kids. It’s amazing that they’ve been given the ability to function in that way, but I guarantee they still struggle. No one actually has their *poop* together like we think we “should”. And that is good! It keeps us on our knees and aware of our daily desperation for our Savior to rescue us and strengthen us for each new day.
If you truly believe that you are called to do something for your children, or your spouse, or yourself, you will be able to do it! It may look different than you imagine it right now. It may be that you have to let other things go in order to have the time/energy to do it, but you will do it! And it will be a great season. And even if it’s only a short time, you can only do what you’re being asked to do in THIS season.
I can’t go grocery shopping right now, or pick up my kids from school, or go to the Mother/Son Dance. But I can’t keep allowing those things to determine my value and worth and success as a mom. By a lot of standards, I am a piss-poor mom. But, I also choose to believe that the truth is that I am constantly seeking Jesus to help me. I am constantly asking Him to be the strength in my weakness and that what I am able to model to my kids is simply my need of Jesus and how quickly I repent and run back to the cross when I fail to display His character.
I want to take care of my home because of what it displays about what we believe about Jesus. I want to love my kids because of how it reflects Jesus. Everything I do only matters because of how it displays Christ. Of course, this is not my natural motive, but it IS the motive I fight for and have to remind myself of every day.
You are in a perfect place to display your desperation. That is not weakness or a failure. You are in a position to show wisdom in how you manage your time. To show your dependence when being asked to do anything beyond what you feel equipped to do. We are called to live peaceably. The peace of Jesus is a huge indicator and gift of grace. If you don’t have peace about taking something on, on any given day, don’t do it! If all you can do is love your baby, and in order to do that the older ones get more T.V. time than you would like, so what? Is there peace? Is every need being met and joy reigning? Do that. Pursue peace.
I hope this gives a little air to those of you who feel like you’re drowning a little bit, like myself. I hope you are able to focus on the gifts you’ve been given and on the One who enables us to do everything. “For in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28).
I love you all….