I wrote this post several months ago but found it today and still got smacked in the face by it.
Last week, up to my elbows in soapy water and covered head to toe in the mess of motherhood, I lost it. Full on tears dripping into the clean dishes lost it.
And the most maddening part of all was that I ruined those clean dishes (not really, I totes put them in the cabinet anyway) for a phantom. For a nothing. For an imagined problem that nags at women and moms with an incessant chirping of you are not doing enough!
I am surrounded by strong, ambitious superwomen. They inspire me continually. But because we have been numbered and categorized since our first breath, my instinct is to begin numbering and categorizing the theirs against the mines. This friend does this job, and this job, and raises this baby, and volunteers there. That friend works there, works out that many days, earned that degree, and takes her baby to the library. That girl wakes up at this time, works those hours, cooks those meals, and always wears mascara.
And, inevitably, what follows is the conclusion that
I am not doing enough.
What is “enough?” How am I supposed to know when I’ve reached it? When I can’t put down the computer until midnight every night? When I have to find someone to watch Addison five days a week? When I have structured, age-appropriate Pinterest activities planned and prepped for her every morning when she wakes up? When my husband comes home to a hot, home cooked, edible (<– key word) meal every night of the week?
are we am I in an all-consuming, head-down, relentless pursuit of a goal that is wholly subjective and indefinable? What am I even chasing? If I look up, what is ahead that drives me to justify neglecting the truly valuable in anticipation of some fleeting, self-prescribed merit?
Stop. Look to the left and to the right. That is the goal. Those are the milestones that build a city of memories, a lifetime of timely pauses and spare minutes. The race is not against mothers or friends or women who do things that I can’t or never will. The race is with them, a shared marathon with some paving the way, others coming behind and the beautiful synchronization of friends striding beside you. Swooping in with home cooked meals that will taste better than any concoction you could dream up. Busting out their own hot glue gun and ribbon when you don’t have any more space in your head for DIY crafts. Walking into your house and scooping up your baby with the warmest familiarity.
Time to enjoy the space between afternoon naps and dinner, with a swing in the yard or wagon ride in the driveway, is not
It is not a consolation for not having more important commitments.
and so much more.
When responsibilities are met, and the must-get-done’s are done,
breathing, deep and slow, for a minute or an afternoon, is okay.
When did it stop being nourishing and start being indulgent to read a novel that wasn’t accompanied by a test that counted toward a degree, to take a nap because you were up three times with an unhappy baby or just because you are tired, to let the laundry pile up one more day because a lunch date with your daughter is way more fun?
I have freelance projects every week.
I am a full-time mother.
I volunteer at my church.
I take care of Addison while Clayton volunteers at our church.
I handle the cooking (or ordering) of our meals, the cleaning of our house, and the organizing of our schedule.
I keep my body healthy.
I go to a small group once a week.
I see friends and family as much as I can.
I write sporadically on a blog.
In what universe would this collection of identities not be enough? I feel so compelled to fill in the gaps of every hour in order to feel accomplished, to be sure I am making the most of my time. But I know in my head that making the most of my time is defined by what and who gets most of my time. And I don’t what that to be a computer. Or a stranger. Or a brochure or web page that will wither and die.
Making something requires an intent to create, a choice to design a life that has some growing room, some space around the edges to relax for awhile. To allow for minutes that spring up when a cat finds its way into the backyard and needs to be watched through the back door, when the play area at the mall is completely empty for the first time ever, when your kid discovers how to flip over her toy table and climb on top of it but can only get down with a Mama’s hand.
Those seconds will sprint right past you if you are not so very diligent in making time for them.
And I have told myself I do not want to miss them.
I do not want more clients if it means less time with Addison, I do not want more volunteer commitments if the joy of giving is replaced by dread, I do not want quiet moments with my husband at the end of each day to be hijacked by exhaustion.
I want to find enough
laughter surprises spontaneity fulfillment joy confidence beauty
right here in this moment. Because I am certain it is there. I just have to stop and look.