Mamas, we’re being lied to.
We’re told that we are successful when we “have it all.” And the worst part is that we believe it.
What does that even mean, though? Having it all can mean so many things.
“Having it all” might include these things all at once:
You have your dream job and are well respected as well as extremely successful at your career.
You have kids who are happy, well-adjusted, polite, and brilliant.
Your kids also rarely messy, know how to put their toys away, and put themselves to sleep at night.
Your kids also sleep 12hrs straight every single night.
You have ample time to spend with your partner in which you have long uninterrupted conversations and enjoy sex together daily.
You have regular date nights with your partner because you have fantastic, reliable babysitters and lots of free time.
You have plenty of time for yourself every day during which you do the things that are important to you.
You shower every single day.
You have lots of quality time every day with your kids during which you go to the playground, on nature hikes, build epic forts in your living room, and create impressive crafting projects using popsicle sticks, cotton balls, floss, newspaper, old tennis balls, and paint.
You have super healthy and non-competitive relationships with your best mama friends.
You fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes easily.
Your house looks like a composite creation of your favorite pinterest boards.
You never miss a night of putting your kids to sleep.
You never yell.
Your own parents and in-laws respect your parenting choices and never question your judgment.
You are able to take long vacations with your family regularly because you have the schedule flexibility, the money, and unlimited paid vacation time that has zero consequences.
Anyone? Anyone out there reading this “have it all?”
If you do, kudos. You are officially a unicorn – a mythical being said to exist but never actually seen in real life.
For the rest of us, we might hit a few of the items on this “have it all” list, but rarely at the same time.
We might love our jobs, but feel overworked and are sacrificing time with our families to thrive in our career.
Or we work from home, which allows us more time with our kids but also no uninterrupted time to actually get work done.
Or we gave up the job we loved to stay at home with our kids and miss working every single day.
Maybe we haven’t had a meaningful conversation with our partner for weeks and haven’t spent any time with any of our best girlfriends since before the 2nd child was even conceived.
Maybe we’re having lots of sex with our partner but the house is a disaster because “priorities.”
Our kids sleep 12hrs straight, but we struggle with crippling insomnia.
The point is that it’s tough to have all of this all at once. We’re convinced, though, that if we have it all, we are living the dream.
The truth is, I think the dream is a little different.
What I’ve realized is that it’s less important to have it all and more important to have balance.
Yes, my house is messier than I would like. Laundry from 2 days ago is folded but not put away on my bed, while a load of diapers is in the dryer. My yoga classes are smaller than they were before my maternity leave and my last course didn’t fill, so I am stressed out about money and wondering whether or not I am on the right path in my life.
As I write this blog, my 3 year old is watching TV because I cannot work and entertain her at the same time and our mother’s helper has already left for the day. My 12 week old son is napping on my chest in a wrap because if I put him down he will likely wake up and need to be nursed or just need to be held. I would love to be able to paint with my daughter and nurse my son at the same time, while dictating this blog into the voice recorder on my phone.
But honestly, I don’t want that. I want to be present with my kids when I am with them, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. I want to have meaningful conversations with my husband, even if it means we stay up a little later and get less sleep. I don’t want to aspire to ridiculous, unreachable goals. I want to find balance in my sometimes messy, sometimes beautiful life.
So this is what I am after these days.
I’m letting go of my perfectionist interpretation of motherhood. I wrote a whole blog about this, but old habits die hard. It’s a process.
I’m letting go of the idea that my kids are more worthy of my time than I am. My own self-care is important. Investing in my self-care is not only investing in my sense of self-worth, but also an investment in my health. I deserve to be in good health.
I’m letting go of the idea of “having it all.” I’m embracing the idea that finding balance isn’t a flawless experience. It’s constantly in flux. Some days are good. Some days are less good. Every day I am reminding myself that having bad moments doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong and successful moments don’t mean I’m perfect and I don’t need to continue to grow.
This is not easy, but I think it’s preferable to the notion that having it all is something I or anyone else can actually have.