I am a mess. Or, in other words, I’m a wife, a mother of two children under two, and I’m trying to make a small business work. Most of the time I feel like all I do is react to things. I get up when my kids get up. I shower when my husband and kids are sick of taking the blame for my funk. I clean when guests come over or when the ring around the toilet starts glowing a neon pink like a Krispy Kreme “Hot Now” sign for bacteria to descend upon.
Outside of our small apartment, I can put on a good show. I feel like I’ve mastered the ability to appear laid-back and calm while simultaneously being a head case. My problem isn’t so much the lack of hygiene in my life (as you might insist). It’s more the pressure that comes with being a mom in our world. I’ve read so many blogs and magazine articles instructing me to relax. Enjoy this time in my life because my babies will grow up fast.
I get that. And I really do believe I am enjoying them as much as I can. I make every attempt to keep the phone at bay when I’m at home with my children. And any work that I do is scheduled during naps, after they’ve gone to sleep, or when they’re in the loving care of grandparents.
The pressure I’m feeling is self-inflicted and more perceived than a reality. It creeps in on days when I feel like the sun doesn’t shine on my life. When warm rays are only for the blessed ones with followers and likes and pretty selfie pictures adorning their social media walls. On those days I look around our 1080 square foot apartment and the walls suffocate me, the tiny pieces of brown leaves in the carpet are suddenly prehistoric in size, and the dearth of my social network for my business feels abysmal.
Suddenly the joy of raising my kids in the messy, germ-ridden way I do, isn’t good enough. And everything I do outside of my kids is not up to par either.
My husband, the kindest and most loving man in the world, sometimes pokes fun at me on these days and that’s exactly what I need him to do. When I’ve escalated a situation into the apocalypse, he brings it down to size. He says my motto in life is “Do More”. It bugs me that he has pin-pointed my problem so pointedly. In fact, until he said it, I never knew the words to ascribe to the constant hum going through my brain from the moment I wake up.
DO MORE MICK.
So you made a meal for that mom who just had a baby? Why didn’t you include dessert? Or a salad? Or a baguette?
So you made Evy lunch for preschool? Why didn’t you make little animal figurines out of the food like that giraffe made out of figs that a mom posted on Instagram?
So you posted an image on your Facebook business page for marketing? Why didn’t you write an entire blog post?
So you spent time marketing your business? Why weren’t you writing thank you notes? Or calling family? Or doing something thoughtful?
So you wore (clean) yoga pants and a stain free shirt to the grocery store? Why didn’t you wear something hipsterish like a”photographer” should wear?
This inner dialogue goes on and on and on. I was so thankful for a phone call from Evy’s preschool teacher yesterday. She laid out a list of wonderful things about my daughter, assuring me that Evy is developing perfectly and she is a joy to have in class.
Did I have any questions for her?
“So what more should I be doing for Evy on days she’s not in preschool? I mean, I try to teach her the alphabet and numbers, but what MORE could I be doing?”
Evy’s teacher doesn’t mince words. She says it like it is and earns the respect from both parents and two-year old children alike. She told me to “chill out Mick. She’ll be fine.”
I know she’s 100% right. It’s just those days when all perspective is lost. When my ability to live as God intended, in the present moment, with a quiet mind, seems unfathomable. It’s those DO MORE days that fill my bucket with a list of inadequacies that becomes more lengthy every time I look on a Pinterest board. Especially those boards by uber moms who make the lists of “100 Super Toddler Craft Ideas that Will Ensure Your Child a 1500 or Higher on their S.A.T.”.
When I try to pray about my “do more” motto, the hum always interrupts. I get through about half a sentence and something pops into my brain about how I should have said that one thing to that one person today. Oh no, they’re going to get the wrong impression about what I meant. Should I text her about it? Maybe I should write an email explaining the nordic slang that might have confused her. We Minnesotans can come across reservedly rude without intending so. Yes, it’s 2:30 in the morning, but I know an explanatory text is necessary.
Push send button….
Oh wait, did I start praying?
It’s not a good way to live. This hum thing. It’s not good at all.
When I think of its origin, I’m pretty sure it all stems from comparison. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like without social media. What would it feel like to live on the prairie where you only had a few neighbors to measure your achievements against and they lived miles away? In my DO MORE moments, I think it would be blissful to live in that Laura Ingalls Wilder sort of setting.
You know what would happen though? I’d end up marrying some dude who, years into our marriage, started to feel “convicted” about the righteousness of polygamy. It would be me and my sister-wives competing for the attention of our collective children and husband. Each of us having a “pin board” with kernels of corn showing us who made the best meal, knit the best sweater, offered the best sexual favors….
Scratch that whole prairie idea.
Even though we don’t share the same husband (thankfully), I know I have DO MORE sisters out there. Women who stay up late in search of an accomplishment on which to hang their hat. Then struggle to sleep because they are thinking of the next day’s accomplishments, then the next and the next. Before we know it, our hat stands are chalk full of meaningless busywork that keeps demanding more branches for more hats.
In an effort to change this unhealthy pattern in my life, I’m searching for a new motto. Here are some possibilities…
“DO LESS.” (Inspired by this)
“NEVER PROMISE AND UNDER DELIVER.”
“DON’T MORE THAT MEANS LESS.”
It’s a work in progress but that last one is the idea I’m aiming for. I want to do things that bring me and others joy and I want to do those things with a clear mind. One that is not measuring whatever I did against someone else.
I think I’ll go stew over that motto while I scrub the toilet…
And if anyone has advice for how to balance life in these early child years, please share!