The Worst Thing You Could Say to a Stressed Out Mom
byRebecca AlwineMar 01, 2017
Photograph by Twenty20
You know the kind of people I'm talking about—those do good, feel
good, be honest types who encourage us all to take more time for ourselves and
really evaluate our situations. They want us to reprioritize, stop making
excuses, and be honest with ourselves and the world. They share memes like this one, immediately making us all guilty for not feeling the same way:
In a perfect world—which is the one I’m sure whoever keeps
sharing this lives in—there's enough time for everything. In my world, there
simply isn’t. Yes, my health is a priority, that’s why I spend time meal
planning, food shopping, and cooking. It’s also why sometimes my kids eat
chicken nuggets and carrot sticks several times a week, because at least they're getting vegetables with them. My mental health is also a priority, which
means take-out happens, just like cereal for dinner happens.
Let’s face the facts. There are 24 hours in a day. That’s
it. I don’t care who you are, you aren’t going to find anymore. Are you going
to magically discover some extra hours that I’m not already doing something with
so that I can prioritize the way you want me to? Go ahead, try it. With three
kids, one of whom still won’t sleep more than four hours at a time, even my sleep
time is not my own.
There's school drop-off, pick-up, homework, and
extracurricular activities. I’m already struggling to figure out a time
my baby is supposed to have an afternoon nap, since pick up for my first grader
is at 2:15. By 3 p.m. we’ve started the homework battle.
The desire to
spend time with my children creeps in, but I still have things to do around the
house. But household chores don’t rank high on my list of daily priorities. See,
I can prioritize! Then we’re out the door three of the five nights each week
for an activity.
I’d love to drop the kids off at whatever program they have
that evening and head on over to the gym, but oh yeah, the baby. And please don’t argue that my husband can keep him or that I should hire a sitter. First
of all, the sitter costs money that I don’t always have. And second, my husband is in the Army. If I really need to explain the
unpredictability of that, then it’ll have to be another time.
The truth is I don’t have time to do everything
I once considered a priority.
When I give myself an out by saying “I don’t have time,” it
actually makes me feel better. The truth is I don’t have time to do everything
I once considered a priority. One day when my children are older, I’ll look
back and I won’t regret the times I let the laundry pile up, or we ate pizza
twice in one week. I will regret the times I chose chores over cuddles or food
shopping over a trip to the park.
You know what is a priority to me? Sleep, coffee, my work,
and time with my family. So each and every time you ask me to do something and
it interferes with those things I’m going to say no. Every time. And it’s not
because you aren’t a priority to me, it’s because I really don’t have
time. I bet if you thought about it, you don’t have time for everything that's
a priority in your life either.
So how can we help each other through this? How can we spend
time building each other up and easing the burden for our friends instead of
tearing each other down?
In the simplest of ways. Carpooling to activities saves so
much time! You do this day I’ll do the next and we both find ourselves with a
little extra time to get the laundry folded. Shoot me a text when you head to
the store and see if I need anything. I promise you won’t get my full shopping
list, but you may save me 30 minutes of kid wrangling just for a gallon of
milk. I promise to return the favor!
I want nothing more than to sit on the couch with a cup of
coffee and spend hours catching up with a friend, but since we’ve been trying
to get together since before Christmas, let’s just admit we’re on this bumpy
road called motherhood and go with it.
And to those who have already mastered
this, instead of judging me on Facebook and posting passive aggressive images
meant to dig at those of us who are trying our very best, you have two options: help us out or butt out.