I’m noticing a recurring theme in the things I’m studying/watching/hearing/struggling with over the past two weeks or ten years: Chill out. Slow down. Calm down. Take it easy. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s okay.
Part of me gets it: “yeah yeah yeah, we’re all way too busy. We shouldn’t overload our schedules, we need to make more time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, etc, etc, fine fine fine.”
The other part of me fights this to the core: “If I get any more chillax, I’ll be dead. Nap say what? There’s too much to do. I can knock it all out and then some. I have about eighty places I have to be all within the next hour. There’s not enough coffee for this day. Or any day. I can feel my pulse in my ears.”
My true friends know that Toni is not the world’s most effective multi-tasker. That I do tend to lose it when, say, I’ve got to shower and brush my teeth all in one morning. It sounds like a cakewalk but when the freshman is debriefing me at the rate of 6000 words a minute for 7 hours, and the boy is building an unauthorized rock-wall in his bedroom, and the 3-year old is shrieking at the top of her lungs because I’m not being a very good mermaid, and the baby just shat herself in a way that requires me to mop the floor…looking good usually ranks low on the list of my daily priorities.
I had a mild episode last night. I cried ugly about all my worries, including, and definitely limited to, taking care of 2 newborns when just one of my current children requires 1000% of my energy and attention.
How do people parent and do things?
I used to have goals unrelated to raising kids: Paint murals. Start a business. Gain a following on Instagram. Write a book. Run a marathon. Feed the poor. Travel the world. Run a company. Make money. Cook delicious food for tons of people on a regular basis. Make cute videos with my family. Design logos. Sell my paintings.
I don’t care about that stuff so much anymore.
I once had beef with our family’s Wednesday night routine. Kids’ church left all of us overwhelmed and drained and usually crying. A friend of mine told me that anything worth doing was going to take sacrifice (I agree, for the record) and that she understood the struggle because she, like me, had once been, after all, just a mom.
I know there are women out there who manage it all. I know there are people who balance the family, career, social, and spiritual aspects of life, and that it is no easy task. I know there are women out there sacrificing and hustling and killing it and I will never be one of those women.
I’m just a mom.
And I’m finally at a point in my life where the “just” part doesn’t embarrass me.
I won’t be running a marathon anytime soon obviously.
I have no intentions of writing a book.
Dinner parties are on hold indefinitely.
People are gonna have to paint their own murals and design their own logos.
I’m not taking online courses in any subject. For the foreseeable future.
I don’t want to live with a stomach ache thinking of all the things I’m not accomplishing; I don’t want to be a grouchy, resentful woman who wishes she could have been successful in all the ways that don’t even count.
But I will make sure all seven of my kids know that I love them. I will feed and bathe and clothe and educate and pray for six souls (seven if you count the 22-year-old, and eight, if you count my husband–and you should count my husband.) I will make my home a welcoming place for my family and my friends and the friends of my family and the families of my friends.
I will brush my teeth. I will paint pictures and sell them if I’m lucky. I’ll read books without the promise of some sort of certification or degree. I will go for walks now and runs later–stopping dead in my tracks to gawk at sweeping views of emerald fields and country sunsets.
I’ll sit on my front porch and hold hands with my husband in the mornings. I’ll snuggle babies. I’ll tie shoes and write notes in lunch boxes. I might even make it to church on Wednesday nights. I’ll cook tomato soup. I’ll pet sheep and feed chickens and pick apples and blackberries with no less than four little ones clinging to my legs and I will love every second of it because I can, because I’m just a mom.
It’s not marketable or career-friendly, but we will have just a plain old life marked by love in a house my husband built. And there will be no greater goal this just-a-mom could ever aspire to.
Pregnancy update: I’ve popped. There’s no hiding this tummy full of twins. I’m still starving and exhausted all day errday, but it’s temporary (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.) When it comes to napping, no one has to twist my arm. The struggle to stay awake is REAL. I want hamburgers and only hamburgers. All the hamburgers. Twin pregnancy is no joke.