Every mother thinks about “having it all.” The phrase means different things to different moms, but the concept is always there, in each of our heads. It might drive us to take a job outside the home, to keep our house pristine, to coach soccer, to make cupcakes for the bake sale. And it feels awesome when you send homemade cookies in to work with your husband, and his coworker says, “Wow! Rachel really does it all!” Or when that young guy in the grocery store spots you pushing your cart with one kid strapped to your chest and the other sitting (quietly for once!) with the food, and says, “Look at you, supermom!”
But those moments are few and far between. Typically, when we think of “having it all,” we find ourselves coming up short.
As a mom to only one child, I tried really hard to achieve my concept of “having it all.” Now, as mom to two kids, I know I can’t get there. There are limited hours in the day, and I have limited reserves of energy. I’ve had to make a list of priorities — and be okay if those things at the bottom of the list don’t get attention. Here are a few:
When I was little, I hated wearing dresses. My mom would tell me she didn’t care what I wore, as long as I was neat and clean. This is the standard to which I hold my 3-year-old, who mainly dresses herself, and the one to which I hold myself as well. Hair in a ponytail instead of blown dry? Yep, meets the standard. Jeans and a button up shirt instead of a cute dress? Sure, that’s fine. Yoga pants? If they are spit-up free, then yes! Unshaven legs? As long as they are covered by said jeans or yoga pants (much to my husband’s dismay)! I know that one day there will be a time for styled hair, a dress, and smooth legs. But that time isn’t now. I can’t give up an extra hour of sleep or the ability to nurse my infant on-demand.
Certain household chores
A natural division of chores has evolved between my husband and me — except that we each do our own laundry. Given that I basically rotate through the same items of clothing on a weekly basis, I’ve taken to simply skipping the whole folding part, picking my items from the basket as I want to wear them. Now that we live in the suburbs and have our own laundry room, I can just close the door and ignore the fact that my laundry isn’t folded.
This one is a gimme — obviously, those of us with kids have little time for leisure activities! I still make time to read books, and to binge-watch Netflix shows with my husband. But my piles of unread magazines are threatening to take over my house because I simply don’t have the time to read them. I used to read them at the gym, but that’s another thing I don’t do anymore.
We hold on to so many things — big and little — we feel like we must do to have it all. Our sense of having it all is also heavily influenced by the ways other people view us, and whether we believe we’re meeting, or exceeding, their expectations. It’s hard to let go, but by holding on so tightly, we’re often setting ourselves up for failure. People often say to let go of the little things. I’ll say that, too, but I’ll also encourage you to let go of something big. Maybe a few big things. It’s much easier to “have it all” when your list of priorities is suddenly much shorter.