“If I can just get all the dishes washed…” Meanwhile, someone is eating cereal out of a bowl that can’t go in the dishwasher.
“If I could just get a few more minutes of work done…” And now I’m running late for school pickup.
“If I can just get this laundry washed, dried, and put away…” Except for the clothes we’re wearing will go into the hamper tonight.
“If I can just make a meal plan for the week, and get to the store…” And in a few days, the fridge will be empty (or worse—stinky), and I’ll do it all again.
“If I could just get this floor vacuumed…” But immediately, my toddler tramples in more dirt from the yard.
“If I could just get a good night’s sleep…” But my kiddo is in a sleep regression and he can’t help it.
“If I could just take a dang shower today!” Ok, now this one is a good idea!
If all these things, then I will be able to relax. Then I will take a breath.
Then I will be happy.
Here’s the thing, mama. The list never ends. We will never be “caught up.”
I could roll with this concept in my career. The work was never done. There was always another email coming in. But as long as I made some progress that day, I could sort of relax and feel accomplished. I felt satisfaction in knowing that I had done a good job, and I would do a good job again tomorrow.
Why can’t I feel that way about motherhood?
I lamented to my therapist that I’m afraid I don’t feel satisfied by a day’s work as a mom. I even said, “BUT IT’S HARD!” Oh boy. I wanted to ask her: please tell me the magical formula so I can feel accomplished within the never-ending work that is motherhood. Please give me 5 simple steps, maybe a guided meditation. Then I can check “progress in therapy” off my to-do list, too.
The usual advice here would be something like don’t beat yourself up; you deserve a glass of wine; ask for help; hire help if you can afford it; don’t try to do it all. Those tips aren’t new. You’re probably doing most of them already!
For me, those tips feel to me like just another item to add to my to-do list…my and then list. “If I could just get some more help around here, then I will be happy.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I’m sure I could use more help, but it’s not going to solve the underlying problem.
There’s no finish line here, no gold stars or metrics or semi-annual reviews. There’s not even really a problem to solve.
There’s just life as the parent of a small child, and the work is never-ending.
The best I can hope for as a mama is to just BE. Relax now, not later. Breathe now, not later. Revel in the everyday absurdity when I can, and accept the days when I don’t feel like reveling. I may not feel the kind of job satisfaction that I’m used to, but I do feel a love deeper and fiercer than ever before.