“No one wins when we go through life trying to prove we can handle it all.”
I recently read this quote and figured it sums things up well.
I tend to write a lot here focusing on areas I’m working to improve, perhaps at the risk of sounding overly idealistic at times.
The fact of the matter is my life is awfully chaotic some days. I’m no perfect mom and I ain’t got this all down pat.
Some of us just aren’t so great at the practical aspects of life, such as organization that keeps itself organized, good time management, schedules and the like.
Some of us aren’t so good at being patient, holding our tongues and keeping our cool either. Especially around 9 pm when we’re solely in charge of bedtime for three youngsters.
So it’s difficult for me to imagine anyone thinking I have it altogether or that I can handle it all. And I’m guessing if you’re anything like most of the moms I know, you don’t feel like you’ve got it all together either.
So what’s the big deal? We’re not really trying to prove we can handle it all, are we?
Perhaps not but here’s an example of how it goes:
A couple weeks ago I spent the day at a friend’s house, one of those days which always goes by much too fast.
She invited us to stay for supper and I really wanted to especially since both our husbands were gone anyway. But my children had missed too much sleep recently and now all-out fighting was moments away from breaking out.
It was urgent that we get home – now! You know how it goes I imagine.
In all truth, I had very little time to spare until I reached full mommy-melt-down myself, at least if I had to continue settling fights. These children needed to get to bed – and soon!
Yes, it was going to take every ounce of my strength and a lot of God’s grace to see us through to the other side of 9:00.
I hurriedly cleaned up the mountains of stuff that comes with leaving the house for the day when you have small children. The diaper bag, the blankets, the outdoor clothes, a few toys, my sewing supplies, the food container, and so on.
I raced home with three tired kids in tow, made supper and got them into bed as quickly as I could.
My friend texted me a bit later that evening to say her daughter had found one of our missing toys soon after we left (of course!). I thanked her and couldn’t resist adding that my children were now safely tucked in bed – whew!
To which she replied, “Wow, I wonder at your powers in already getting those children to bed! Three cheers for you!”
Now I’m sure she knows me well enough not to have pictures dancing through her head of me neatly unloading and tidying everything, making a casserole from scratch, patiently and sweetly answering every question, gently rocking the baby while reading long stories, and maybe even doing a quick bedtime craft within a tight two-hour time frame.
I don’t know though, seems I never project my own worst-case scenarios onto my friends so perhaps they picture my behind-the-scenes reality through slightly rose-tinted glasses too.
I didn’t want to risk that so I sent her the recipe for my secret powers – this eight-step speedy bedtime plan:
1. Get home at 6 pm. Don’t bring anything but kids in from van.
2. Fry up eggs and make toast in a big hurry because it will go down with the least amount of work and fussing.
3. Sigh a prayer of thanks that baby is happy until we’re done eating.
4. Bark at children to get PJs on while nursing baby.
5. Lose patience at hyperactivity and foolishness of kids and threaten super early bedtime.
6. Realize early bedtime is a rational next step so read two short stories.
7. Organize potty breaks and quick snuggle with grumpy boy while baby fusses.
8. 7:57 pm. Put out lights as baby cries and daddy gets home.
I certainly wasn’t trying to prove anything – just getting through the evening was my only goal at the time! – and I had a funny realization that even in our worst moments we can unknowingly intimidate others.
When we hide our reality, whether intentionally or unintentionally, no one wins and we make room for misunderstandings. So much can be gained by opening our lives, the real and raw stuff, to our friends and sisters.
Does that mean I unload all my garbage on everyone for the sake of transparency? No.
Does it mean I recognize the fact that I’m prone to surmise things about others and work to end Surmising Syndrome? Yes!
It hadn’t occurred to me that there would be anything to admire about my sorry lack of patience and the squalor we were surrounded by that evening, yet my friend claimed to admire the ways I sacrificed myself to get my children to bed on time.
Here I was just doing the bare minimum to make it through the evening without any major (child) fights or (mom) fits! And feeling a bit like the bad mom because she let her children stay up to see their dad when he came home and I didn’t.
Luckily for me, she explained things a bit: her children had not repeatedly skipped naps like mine had. My kiddos had seen their dad in the morning but hers hadn’t.
Of course our situations were different but I don’t necessarily rationalize well when I start surmising!
My friend summed it up well for both of us when she said, “It’s amazing what I can surmise about how smoothly things probably go for others in comparison to myself!”
Isn’t that the truth? I can think of several other recent examples that illustrate this perfectly but I suspect we all know what it’s like to surmise things. 🙂
How about next time we think we’re the worst housekeeper ever, we share a real-life glimpse of our home with a good friend and ask what her own worst housekeeping moment looks like?
Or next time we think no one gets as upset at their kids as we do with ours, we share it with a friend and ask them if they can relate.
Who knows, maybe it will open a door to a new solution for an old problem. At the very least, our friends will surely appreciate knowing we’re just as human as they are.
There is strength in sisterhood and healing in sharing. Let’s not go it alone and pretend we can do it all. Let’s not tell ourselves lies and criticize our failings mercilessly either.
Just like us, our friends can’t and don’t do it all.
And no one wins when we go through life trying to prove we can handle it all.
So… how do you get your children to bed in a hurry? 😉