Today’s truth: I get burnt out after a few too many days of “doing it all.”
As you may have gathered by now … my husband is a grain farmer. He also has a full-time job as a millwright. In recent times, with harvest upon us, this has meant weekends and evenings at the farm and some very long days.
This means that the parenting and household load is on me … all on me. I’m not writing this to secure some “poor Leanne’s,” I’m writing this because I know there are other mothers out there who are “doing it all” too … single moms “do it all” all of the time, moms whose husband’s work away “do it all” half of the time, moms whose husbands work late or on weekends like mine “do it all” some of the time too. And sometimes, it’s hard to do it all. That is all.
“Doing it all” (or at least trying to) often leaves me with feelings of defeat. I really struggle to be the mom that EACH one of my children needs throughout the day. I am sure I don’t need to outline the challenges of trying to play a game on the coffee table with my oldest, while our almost walking baby attempts to clear the table again and again. Or of trying to read a book to one child, while another one struggles to sit still next to us. Or of trying to comfort more than one child at a time. At times, it seems I simply CAN’t do it all.
I often find myself three or four requests behind, scrambling to keep up and remember what it is I am supposed to be doing at the moment. The baby dumps her plate of food, while the next one needs help with the tape, but can’t even find it. And the oldest is pounding her fists on the table, desperately trying to record the letters of her new friend’s name as I say them out loud … getting mixed up myself a few times because my brain is in fifteen places at once.
Or how about the overwhelm of trying to create a decent meal that everyone will like (or at least tolerate) one-handed (because I’m carrying a whiny baby), carrot peals flying everywhere, and continuous battles between my oldest daughter and the cheese grater, which is seemingly hungry for her knuckles …
And then there’s the attempts to load the dishwasher while the baby reaches for the knives, someone needs their butt wiped, and the oldest “really wants to do something with you, Mommy.”
This … is … motherhood.
And it’s truly beautiful, even the absolute chaos, but my vision becomes clouded after too many days of “doing it all” alone. It’s all just a little too much sometimes … I become irritable, easily angered … and then I want to “check out.”
“Checking out” for me when my kids are present is drowning myself in household tasks (even things that are not urgent). Here, I can see the beginning, middle, and end of a job. And once it’s complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment. With kids, nothing is like that … it’s all so messy, literally and figuratively. It all seems so slow, so repetitive, so mundane at times. There are days when I catch myself looking forward to bedtime, wishing time away (even though I know that’s so, so WRONG) … and the cooking and cleaning must really be dominating lately, because yesterday in their play the big girls were pretending I was their maid.
I yearn to be a better, more present mom with my kids, but too many days of momming alone, and I “check out” more and more and more. I let them watch TV a little longer than I should, I encourage them to “go play” or “find something to do” while I do this “important” task (like organizing the spice cabinet) that will somehow make our lives better in the future (I tell myself). The truth is organizing the spice cabinet is easy; raising and being totally present with ALL THREE of my kids day after day after day is not. Neither is listening to them tell me how much they miss their dad or having to say “no” to a craft (because … I … just … can’t … handle another mess) or being reminded of how even though I am trying to “do it all,” it is still not enough.
Knowing the fact that my children and their needs are more important than any household task doesn’t change the fact that IN MY MIND the carpet still needs to be vacuumed, the toys need to be picked up, and the clothes need to be washed. I am not one of those people that is good at just “letting things go” and I am always torn between “letting things go” and ensuring that I am teaching my children to take care of their things and pick up after themselves.
When my husband is here, he helps with these things and he helps with the kids. He wrestles with them, reads with them, plays with them, and brushes their teeth, which means their needs are being met, and I am free to do something else … and sometimes that’s just recharging my batteries.
I’m a mom who needs a break … a little time AWAY from my kids … to just be and do the things that fill me up. And while the big girls were away a bit this week, the baby was still here. In fact, she’s been here WITH ME for the last 315 days. She’s a pretty sweet kid, but I would be just fine with a little less hanging off of my legs (her specialty). I know, I know … “you’re gonna miss this.” Right? Not sure it will be THAT part that I miss though …
The truth is … I’m ready for a change. With fall and back to school just around the corner, I certainly hate to wish away the rest of summer, but I’ll be honest, I’m yearning for a bit of a routine, some structure, some personal goal setting, and a little time AWAY from my kids (all of them) … I ALWAYS appreciate them more when they’re away some. I ALWAYS have more to give when they’re away some.