The amazing, Dawn Fiscella, Owner of Immaculate Clean, recently suggested I write about how crazy life can be for us moms. She’s right. I know that. I remember it well. The thing is, it’s not my life anymore so I was struggling with how to write about it. Then it occurred to me, that’s the point. My life is different now. But, how, and why, did it change?
The answer is rather simple. I stopped. I stopped running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I stopped saying yes to everything that was asked of me. I stopped feeling guilty about saying no. I stopped caring if I was everyone’s image of the perfect mother. And, I stopped beating myself up for my failures.
Yes, the answer is simple. But, how I got to it was a lot more complicated.
It’s not like I set out to change the craziness of life. I wasn’t searching for the answer to slow it all down. And, in all honesty, I’m not sure I’d want to go through it all again. Yet, I am absolutely thrilled to be where I am today.
There was a time when I was a married, business-owner, mother of three who got the kids off to school in the morning, went to the gym, and spent the next five hours in her store. The second half of my day started when the kids got home from school. I somehow fed them and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening running them around town. Bedtime came after they were all asleep and the house was at least livable. Of course, there were also the dogs to take care of, and so on, and so on.
I’m sure this describes most of you. Especially those of you with younger children, and the energy to keep it all going. It’s definitely become the norm of parenting. Of course, it doesn’t really get any easier when the kids get older. Their activities get more intense, issues more significant and your worry level skyrockets. The overall craziness seems to intensify.
That was my life until other things started to get in the way. First of all, I got divorced. Divorce changes things. As a parent, it changes how much time you have with your kids and who is responsible for what. It forces you to let go of some things. You’re pushed to allow your ex to handle things that you would have otherwise.
When you’re going through divorce, you’re also an emotional mess. It gets easy to say no to things because you know you’d be worthless at getting it done anyway. Besides, you really don’t want to have to force your miserable self on anyone so it’s easier to just stay away.
And, since your kids are now the product of a broken family, how bad is it if you forget to send their lunch to school? Seriously, most people expect it. “You’ll have to excuse them…Their parents are going through a divorce.” The comments seem harsh at first, but after a while you learn to just go with it. It makes things easier.
Of course, shortly after getting divorced, I developed a major hip problem. When you can’t walk very well, it’s difficult to do much. Again, it makes it very easy to say no. And, when you have a full brace and crutches after surgery, people don’t even bother to ask. The pressure to work out every day also diminishes when walking is a challenge. That gave me at least an extra hour or so each day to do whatever else I needed to do.
Over the next few months, I moved, stopped working, and two of my kids went off to college. All of these things brought more challenges and stress, but they also put things in perspective.
Life is complicated. There is no doubt about it. And, it is oftentimes overwhelming and seemingly out-of-control. But, if we stop, if we take a deep breath and figure out what’s really important, life can be even better.
Yesterday, I took my daughter to soccer practice, in her cleats. Of course, it was an indoor practice on a gym floor where cleats are not allowed. A few years ago this would have totally stressed me out. I would have been yelling at my daughter, flying down the highway to pick up her sneakers and rushing back just so she could join the group for the last twenty minutes of practice. This time, I looked at her, said, “oops,” and asked her if she was staying or coming home with me.
I have learned that the kids will survive despite my failures. In fact, they might learn from my mistakes. And, I’ve realized that whatever activity they are involved in now, may not be their passion in a few more years. To get all upset over a missed practice, is really pointless. I understand now that if I say no to something, someone else will say yes, and it will get done. And, I’ve learned that I may not be a perfect mother, but I love my children with all of my heart and I’m doing my best.
So, yes, parenting can be crazy. And, there are probably a million ways to slow it down. (Hiring a cleaning service is certainly one way!!) Hopefully, all of you can find easier ways to do so then I did. But, whatever it takes, try. It’s far more enjoyable.