Being a mom is awesome, amazing, wonderful – and messy, sweaty, frustrating and, frankly, overwhelming at times.
If you’re a mom “in the trenches,” I’m pretty sure you know the constant juggling act. (If you don’t, I want to know your secret and so do millions of other moms out there! Write a book!)
Cooking, cleaning, car-pooling, public policy, laundry, rocking babies, schoolwork, more cooking, wife, community involvement, genealogy, dance lesson, sporting events, scrapbooking, PTA, making memories, working – and did I mention cooking? The list is truly endless.
The No. 1 question I get asked as a mom to a large family is, “How do you do it?” There are a couple of answers to that. (Actually, there are many answers to that, but for today let’s stick with two.)
One is this well-known quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier; not that the nature of the thing has changed but our ability to do so has increased.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Over the years, raising kids and multitasking like a boss has gotten easier. (I know the studies that say multitasking isn’t possible. I would assert they didn’t look at busy moms!)
The other is this: You can’t get water from an empty well. Moms spend so much time serving others they often neglect one very important person in the family. Mom. Mama needs to take care of Mama.
More than 20 years ago, LDS Church leader Neal A. Maxwell gave a talk on “Wisdom and Order.” I must admit, I missed it on the first go-round. I must have been too busy.
As I re-read it recently, a few things stood out, things I have not only come to know but things I teach others. We must have time for ourselves. We must take time for renewal. One line especially stood out. “People fatigue can overtake us all if we are not wise,” he said.
“People fatigue” — I knew just what he meant when he said that. It’s not that you don’t love people — especially your people — but sometimes, it’s just so much. Too often during the most hectic years of raising a family, I did not take enough time for renewal. I found ways to keep at least a little water in my well, but there were long stretches of time where I did not nourish my friendships. I am sincerely sorry about that. Some days, I felt like I was drowning and did not think I had time to reach out to friends. Worse, I thought if I did, they might push me back under the water by telling me I had brought it on myself, as we grew our family by adoption.
I did not realize then that true friendships would have been a lifeline, maybe even a rescue boat. A number of years ago, I committed to consciously and deliberately creating and nurturing friendships in my life. What a joy.
I also learned that even though I am an extrovert, I need quiet time for self renewal. Time in nature is lovely. It’s one reason I love camping so much. For years, my two answers when people asked how I was doing were, “Busy,” and, “Tired.” I got a lot done and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished tired, but it’s so much better when I take time to “sharpen my saw.” I had to learn for myself that it is critical that I take time to nurture the one relationship I neglected the most — the one with myself.
As we head into summer, there’s a lot to look forward to, but it can also be rough. The ninja skills required to keep the family schedule running smoothly can be demanding. The summer activities are layered over the top of all the other roles moms have. I remember how disappointed I was the first time we took the family camping and I came home needing a vacation from the vacation. (Ever tried camping with seven children eight and under? As parents, my husband and I were so out-numbered — and we had so much fun, but boy, were we tired!) I learned to reset my expectations, too. It wasn’t so much a vacation for mom, but “momming” in a different environment.
So here’s my advice for moms with kids still at home this summer. Without one iota of guilt, take some Mom time. Create “greenbelts of quiet.” Sit a spell. Nourish your heart and soul. Read, Dream. Live. Love. Laugh. Rejoice. Enjoy. As you take care of you, your happiness and contentment will ripple out to those around you.
Here’s to an awesome summer.