Sunday should be a day off for most of us who work during the week. But on a recent Sunday after I returned from my morning run, which I started at the crack of dawn before my three year-old got up, I had plenty to do.
As you other moms know, the workday at home never stops.
After taking care of a few things online to prepare for the work week ahead, there were loads of laundry waiting, a house that needed to be cleaned, two dogs eager to get outside, and another 3 year-old’s birthday party to attend.
And, since my parents and in-laws were coming over for dinner, I had to make a stop at the market. (The market? What is this, the 1940s? Did you also have to stop at the filling station?) I figured that having a few meals already prepared for the week would minimize after-work or after-school scrambling.
Sounds relaxing doesn’t it?
And lots of “quality” time with my daughter on the one day of the week that we should be enjoying our time together.
I’m plodding along through this hectic day of relaxation when, on our way home from the party, Madeline says, “Mommy, my throw up’s coming out.”
How does she even know what throw up is?
Do I believe her? Is she being dramatic?
But lo and behold, the minute I pull into the Whole Foods parking lot (do you spend much time at Whole Foods, Hayley?), she regurgitated her juice box and popsicle all over her clothes and the car seat.
Ugh. The car seat is the worst.
What would you do?
Yep, I took off all her clothes right there in the parking lot (thankfully it was 77 degrees out), dressed her in the only item of spare clothing I had in my car – a bathing suit one size too small, and marched into the store. I hosed her down in the bathroom and proceeded to complete my grocery tour, hoping no one would notice my child in her ridiculous attire. (Now that is funny, but it was one long sentence.)
It’s times like these I wish I were Superwoman. I wish I had magical powers to zoom through every mundane task that needs my attention, so I can be every version of the savvy self I want to be.
I wish I had all the time in the world for my husband and daughter, and all the little things that fulfill me as an individual.
But some days there is barely enough time to scratch the surface. I can’t seem to find the time to spend on the things I want to do the most. In an ideal world, it would be phenomenal to do it all, have it all, and be it all.
But the truth is – unless you are Superwoman and can move at the speed of light, fly from here to there, and pull off the stunts of a three-ring circus – there just aren’t enough hours in the day to balance everything without assistance.
Women are no longer just a wife or a mother; our roles and interests have expanded beyond the home. With more and more mothers out of the home and enjoying lives beyond mothering, how does one woman do everything and, if she can’t do it all, what has to give?
Enormous pressure has been placed upon women who choose to be mothers and have careers. The truth is, children need their mammas. And as much as I would like to be here and there, every waking second of every single day for my daughter, I can’t be everything all the time.
Before I had my daughter, I devoted my undivided attention to what I wanted to manifest personally in my life. I was top of my class in college. I practiced in a successful law firm. When I left the legal arena, I studied to be a Pilates instructor, yoga teacher and holistic health coach.
I was running a successful business when my daughter was born. Did I have to give up my aspirations to become a mother?
Was I going to have to choose? Or apologize for having a brain and wanting more from my life than to be "just" a mom? I wanted it all, like many women in this day.
“Having it all” is hard. I’d love to sit here and tell you that I’m always super-duper mom, but I’m not. I’m a real woman who constantly has to juggle the demands of home life with my personal aspirations.
It’s really challenging to see my limitations. I can’t do it all.
Back in the tribes, women had help. They recognized it and acknowledged it. And then, Western Civilization outgrew our tribal roots, but we haven’t evolved to have super-human powers to match our fast-paced minds.
So, we must face reality. The ideas we hold about perfection: "the perfect mom," and "the perfect woman" and "the perfect life," are all illusions. When pitted against reality, they’re pipe dreams at best.
So can I really have it all? I still say yes. But maybe I do not have it all today. And I don’t believe that I can do it all by myself, nor should I try.
I can still be a loving and attentive mom, even if my energy and attention is divided.
I don’t have to be Superwoman to be a multifaceted human being. I just have to have a good game plan, beginning with what I value the most.
I believe that if you want to be the perfect mom in this age you may have to ask for help. Seriously, who can really handle the load that’s been put upon us? Unless your weekends are relaxing walks in the park, you may need to assemble a team like I apparently need to do, to help hold down the fort.
Generations before us, women needed help.
It’s OK that we do, too. Either that or something must go. Sacrifices must be made. Is it your yoga class one day? A sink full of dirty dishes? A few extra loads of laundry? Driving around in a car that really needs a bath (and now new seat belts)? Guess what? It’s OK.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you can be perfectly happy. Let’s see if we can get there together.