No more asking of the mom racing through the store chasing two toddlers and holding a baby on her hip while coupons fall from her once organized coupon collector (I've never done coupons, as an FYI. It could be called anything, really, I'm just making that term up. I think I just pay extra or full price and consider the time spent my coupon) how she does it all.
No more asking of the mom who works (like me) or travels or works and travels or works and commutes or works part time how she does it all when you see her Facebook status updates (and remember those updates are just a teeny glimpse of life).
No more asking of the mom who stays at home and juggles three kids and the laundry and the never-ending cries of mo-ooo-oooo-oooo-ooom all day how she does it all when you come to her house and it's crazy clean (because you might not have realized she just finished it and now she might think it always needs to be clean).
How do you do it all?
The same way you've always done it.
One day, one moment, one week, one second after another.
There really is no choice in motherhood. There is not the luxury of waking up in the morning and deciding that today we're not doing it all. There is the waking up, the pulling up the bootstraps, the putting a smile on our face, the remembering to be grateful (or grumpy at times), and the being a mom. Not a perfect mom. Just a mom.
Sometimes I think that the how do you do it all? isn't much of a compliment or a question.
Sometimes I have found myself defending myself in motherhood.
Oh, I don't do it all I'll mumble while wondering if I'm doing too much or am not intentional or on and on. I just do what I have to do.
In fact, I'm not even sure that I understand the question of how do you do it all?
Sometimes when people ask me how I do it all I feel discouraged, not encouraged. I start to wonder if I'm crazy. I start to think that there is too much on my plate. I start to look at my life with a lens of what in the world am I doing? In fact, I have no idea how to even answer that question. In fact, again, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I think I just stare with that blank look of what?
It's not a bad question. It's just not a needed question.
We don't do it all.
You mess up. I mess up. We forget the laundry in the washing machine. We yell at our kids when we told ourselves we'd only and always listen. We are late. We get discouraged. We have Supermom-feeling days. We have days when we cry. We race around doing the same thing over and over. We function on no sleep.
It's not everything.
There's no finished to-do list in motherhood. Ever.
Do you know what there is?
There is the beauty of moms everywhere in this world loving on their kids and giving of themselves for them. Holding them when we want to sleep. Fighting for them when it feels like no one else is. Mothering them when the decisions are brutally hard and they are mad at you.
There is you.
Loving, giving, teaching, failing, and trying again.
You know what would be a better question? Or statement?
Tell the mom how much she makes a difference in the lives of her kids.
Tell her you appreciate how hard she works for them. Tell her that you noticed how awesome she was when she dealt with the screaming 3-year-old who wanted the cheap $3.49 toy across from the cereal. Tell her that she looks like she's happy. Yes, happy.
We don't say that often enough, I think.
Life is not perfect. Nor will it ever be perfect. Nor will there be a day when you actually do it all, because as you know by the end of the day there will be a new thing on your list of never-ending busy things to do. But maybe, just maybe, you did exactly what needed to be done. Those non-quantifiable things. Like the extra scoop of ice cream or the note tucked in the lunch box.
You won't ever do it all.
Ever. Ever. Ever.
But you will be amazing.
You are amazing.
You change lives with all that you do. Even if it just feels like nothing. Even if it feels like you're constantly trying to keep your head above water. Which, in case you are wondering, is about 98 percent of motherhood. The other 2 percent are the times when you sink, you have great friends who pull you out, and you carry on. Or have a good cry in the bathroom.
So before you ask how do you do it all? to the mom at preschool who seems to have it together or the mom in the grocery store who actually coupons or the mom at work who never has spit-up on her shirt or the mom with multiples or, well, anyone, step back and think about the question. When you ask the question, are you questioning you? Are you wondering if you don't have it all together? Are you comparing your life to the life of the mom you meet? Are you encouraging her with those words and that question?
Motherhood isn't about perfection, doing it all, and achieving a gold star at the end.
It is a journey without the secret of doing it all; rather, it's about being.
Being imperfectly perfectly beautiful in the most messy popsicle dripping spit-up on the shirt yelling kids standing on the dock for one brief moment telling you everything will be OK kind of way.
And that? That is really doing it all.
That is enough.
Carry on, brave mother.
Who does enough.
Not it all, but absolutely perfectly enough.