She poked her head out of the closet, taking a break from putting away clothes. She looked her grown daughter in the eye and said, "That's not just exclusive to motherhood. It's what women do their entire lives. They try to find balance."
She sat on the floor, folding yet another towel and felt her shoulders slump a little. Her mind raced as she tried to consider this idea. What her mother had just said made her think that feeling overwhelmed was more about her than it was about her life. Maybe it was true. As she looked back over her life, she could remember always being one of the more frazzled types.
When she talked it over with a friend later, she sighed and said, "And the craziest thing is that she was so present when she said this. During the whole conversation actually, even though she was doing four things at once."
Her friend retorted with, "Well yeah, easy for her to say, but how many years did it take for her to get to a place where she could be so fully present while putting away laundry and playing with her grandchild all at the same time?"
"Well...um. You know? Come to think of it, she's always been able to do that. She was always present and engaging no matter what she was doing when I was growing up."
"Oh. Huh. That's really amazing."
These two mothers and friends talked for a long time after that, hashing out the idea that we must do it all well, and the guilt that comes from not being able to accomplish what we feel we should in a given day. They talked about how much of their inability to be present and not put their kids off could be due to a state of mind, rather than their actual reality.
Where does all the pressure truly come from? How much of it is our culture, our lifestyle, the result of a society careening out of control? How much of our state of mind and being is a result of our personality?
And where did we get the idea that we know exactly what the perfect mother looks like? When did we get the idea that we could fit in those perfect mother shoes no matter what size our feet are? What would happen if we accepted ourselves as the mother that we are naturally? Instead of striving, at least in our minds, to be someone else? Or if we're certain we're the only one who is actually getting it right, where did that pride come from?
After all, every one of our children are unique, why wouldn't we be unique? As different as night and day from the next mother, and just the right fit for our particular kids.
They decided they were on to something, an underlying truth that would relieve a lot of the tension for many women. They decided to keep digging, praying and talking it over. Until they could share some insights that might just set a few people free from the mind-sets that make them feel like failures.
After asking mothers two questions recently (what are you doing well? and what are you struggling with as a mother?) I received a comment that spoke to this issue,
"My greatest weakness as a mother is never thinking that I (or any other mother) is enough. There are, of course, things I struggle with. But they are far outweighed by the . And I don't need to dwell on them, because that's my weakness. Being overwhelmed, guilty, and self-deprecating are not states of being but . Choosing not to indulge myself in those paradigms, that's what I'm working on."
- Carolyn of Tender Mercies
What Carolyn so eloquently said here is exactly what I'm driving at in asking these two questions. I spoke recently of some threads that are woven through the responses, themes that speak of deeper issues. (NO, I'm not saying you all have major problems :) But I'm excited to have discovered a couple of things that may help other moms in accomplishing this acceptance we all need. I will share more on that soon.
Lastly, I would really appreciate it if you would continue to come along with me on this adventure. So my next request of you is this: Please leave a comment or write your own post listing the things you are doing well as a mother. (I know you sort of did this already with the last question, but I'm asking you to list as many things as you can think of.)
I hope it feels really good!
If you do your own post, will you leave a link here? I'll be linking up and sharing my own list tomorrow. Please feel free to leave long comments if that's easier for you! Thank you!