Monday, April 14, 2014

Abandoning The Everything: My Messy Beautiful Epiphany

We can't have it all. We can't do it all. We can't be it all.  Ladies. We. Can't. Have. It. All. It is not possible. 


There, I said it for all of us. I feel so much better now. The ones who are saying it is possible to have it all and not have your head blow off are flat out lying. All of my friends, especially the ones who work, are frazzled, tired, and unsure of how they are making it through each day alive. So who are these "I'm doing it all, no problemo, people"? I am always trying to do it all, and I am always failing at it miserably. Like nursing the baby in the car waiting for preschool to dismiss while I answer emails and make a grocery list. Then I get milk all over my phone, send a half finished email by accident, drop the grocery list when I was rush up the stairs to get Honey Badger, and I am still late. I am not sure why anyone would tell this life ruining lie, but they do. And I am over it. I reject being The Everything. 

I am the proud owner of two kids, one part time job, one insanely messy house, one insanely messy car, one husband, one blog, and one group of various and sundry friends that for some reason continue to ask me to hang out with them even though I have to say 'no' all too often. I am all up in the volunteer scene at preschool (I can only assume it is similar to being on the board of a fancy art museum, but with more book sales and bulletin boards, and less cocktail parties. Same-same.) I am supposed to be cooking for my family, and teaching my child about things like planting a garden and what recycling is and how to tie her shoes, but instead we eat at Jason's Deli and I let her watch Frozen on repeat, and count on preschool for the educating. It doesn't feel great. But we are all still alive, full, and entertained so, go me.

Last week I was sitting at my desk at work with Baby Bear laying in my lap nursing while I typed away. I had this crazy out of body moment, where I floated up to the ceiling and saw myself working my arse off at  everything I was doing at that exact second. Including pounding a venti Starbucks coffee, which is the only thing keeping me moving forward and not laying face down on the floor of life. I am at that stage of mommying where I am not sleeping and my house looks like a gaggle of four year olds had a two week princess rave and my sink is more full than my cabinets. Where do the days go? How am I not getting anything done? Being a work from home mom was supposed to make life easier. Um, not so much. Fulfilling? Absolutely. Exhausting? For sure. But never, ever easy.

A smart woman once told me that the feminist movement made things harder for mothers. A truth in so many ways. At first it was all bra-burning and speeches and striving for equality. Now it has turned into mothers have to be The Everything. We think since we earned the right to be badasses, we have to be badasses. At all the things. Wife. Mother. Cook. Employee. Friend. Diaper Changer. Nose Wiper. Volunteer. Party Planner. And I am tired. I can't do The Everything and be everything to everyone. And we have to do it all, perfect and alone. But I don't want to do everything. I certainly can't be everywhere and take care of everyone. And the last thing I want is to be alone doing all of this. I am certainly not badass enough for all that.

So let's stop. Stop trying to do everything. Stop trying to be everything for everyone. It's gonna be okay. Just stop. I am not anti-feminist. What I am is anti-you have to do it all to be a real woman. I am pro-happy mom. I am pro-helping others. I am pro-letting others help you. As women we often don't, won't, or can't ask each other for help.  It feels like we are upsetting the balance of the universe. Well, I think the universe may a need a little unbalancing. Helping is how we show each other, "hey, I am in this life with you. I want you to be your best self and you can't do it alone. Me neither." Let's stop being martyrs and start being friends. Is the perception of being "the one who does it all" really that important? That we would forgo our peace and sanity just to be the one who makes every snack, does every tuck in, and clean every toilet? Nope. Can't do it. People in my life, please help me. Let me help you. Let's be feminists who help each other. And feminists who accept help from others. That's the kind of feminist I'm interested in being. 

I often find myself hanging by a thread, being pulled by all the responsibility hanging off my ankles. Someone throws up in my shoe, and someone else breaks a plate, and then it is bedtime and no one is asleep, but I still have work to finish and lunches to pack and oh yeah, we have the letter pail. On and on and on it goes. Then I talk to my best friend and we laugh. And my husband does the laundry. And I make plans trade babysitting with a friend. And I know that I am not in this alone. And I remember that I don't have to be The Everything to be Something. 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project  over on Momastery.— To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


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