Twice in the past few days as a result of our latest monthly Moms breakfast, someone has said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” What I hear from mamas who say that to one another is, “Something you do is something I want to do, and I am not sure how to make that happen.” Or, “I am so exhausted doing what I do that there is no way I could do the things you do.” Let us look at those for a moment; then, I will try to answer the HDYDI question.
Something you do is something I want to do
Then do it! What is stopping you? Are you afraid you will fail? How will you know if you don’t try?
I find that doing things I love to do happens easily and actually gives me positive energy to do the rest of the stuff I have to do. I do not love to cook or clean, although I know mamas who do. I love to connect other women with one another. Doing that feeds me, both because I get connected and because my personality-type (ESTJ) thrives on organizing and belonging to groups. (Go here to find your Myers-Briggs personality-type if you don’t know it.)
If you have a dream and you wait until the right time to do it, it might never happen. Sure, there are seasons in life where we need to say no to things, but if you are truly unsatisfied, that could be a prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out in faith and be the one to fill a need in your community. Serving one another selflessly is too rare in our individualistic culture, and sometimes the unfolded laundry has to get piled on the bed in order to have a few moms over for coffee. (And, yes, I realize inviting those mamas to help fold laundry would be even better, but I am a recovering perfectionist and not there yet!)
I am so exhausted there is no way I could do the things you do
Chances are, then, you are not called to do the things I do. Focus on what you are called to do and how to find internal rest in the chaos.
Are you going through a season of motherhood where you aren’t sleeping much? Then, find a way to nap or at least put your feet up twice a day and quiet yourself. Go to bed earlier and put aside the millions of things you should be doing, choosing rest, for now. This, too, shall pass.
What refreshes you? Make a list of the things you love to do, including big and little things that fill your tank. Plan to do at least two small things each day that bring you joy. I call this my joy list, and it includes things like turning on music or doing a quick word puzzle. I keep magazines or a book in my bathroom at all times and sneak a few pages while…
What do I do
For those of you who don’t know me IRL, here are the projects I am currently involved in running outside of my home:
· Co-director of Saint Anne Homeschool Support Group (www.sacatholichomeschool.org), which founded the San Antonio Catholic Homeschool Conference 4 years ago
· Leader of Grace Days™ initiative in the San Antonio area (www.gracedays.net), hosting Days of Grace for homeschooling mothers 2-3 times a year
· Leader of Saint Anne’s Summer Series, directing discussions on various homeschooling topics weekly in the summer months
· Hostess of Catholic Homeschooling Moms’ Breakfasts, leading monthly potluck breakfasts in my home for fellowship and discussion on some topic relevant to our vocations
· Coordinator of random swaps among mamas, such as saint peg dolls and activity/busy bags for toddlers and preschoolers about twice a year
· Trying to start a Catholic homeschool co-op in my area, two attempts two years apart which both failed due to lack of space to hold classes (maybe we will just start a park day this year)
And I clean my house (sometimes and never by myself), educate three children at home, keep the fourth (a toddler) out of trouble (mostly), make three homemade meals a day (usually), keep up with laundry for two little boys and two adults, shop for groceries and run other errands, etc. I check Facebook at least three times a day. I read blog posts that inform and encourage me, except lately my reader has been abandoned, and I only click through from Facebook links. I listen to podcasts. I read real books, usually with one fiction and at least one nonfiction going at a time. I talk with and watch movies with and enjoy time (at home) with my husband regularly. And I blog. Much, much less than I would like.
How do I do it all
I don’t. The end.
You just think I do. There are things you do that I do not do. My dinners are not elaborate. My big kids wash, fold, and put away their own laundry, clean bathrooms, sweep floors. Those floors only get mopped once a month, just before those monthly moms breakfasts. My husband is not an extrovert like I am, and we have no family in town. I rarely leave town. We are not involved at a parish beyond Sunday Mass and fellowship afterwards. It is rare for us to go anywhere on a Saturday, except perhaps to run errands. If it costs money, we stay home. Law school loans. Too often, I tell my kids to leave me alone to do my “work,” forgetting they are my primary “work.” Daily prayer where I sit down to be alone with God is, unfortunately, rare.
And I type this post hurriedly, just before rushing out the door to take a kid to the doctor. That means one kid (who will be going with us) is still asleep. One is playing Wii Lord of the Rings longer than he is supposed to be playing. I do not have shoes or glasses on, so I better…
But, but, but…
Yes, I do accomplish a lot. It’s the way I’m wired. I like it. I have some posts in mind to share my planning process on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. It’s not perfect. I’m far from perfect. I like a lot of chocolate throughout the day, hot tea in the morning, sweet tea in the afternoon, and a Shiner or a margarita at night (red wine is nice on rare cold days).
Some of my obsession with productivity is learned, too. My father practically raised me on the adage “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more,” while my mother kept reminding me to “Bloom where you’re planted.” I know that I have talents, and I feel obliged to use them to serve my family and my community.
How do you do it?
So, the honest answer is: by the grace of God. Sometimes I get burned out, because I do too much. Sometimes my family suffers when I make poor choices. Sometimes, though, I see that I helped another mom in her journey towards Christ, and that brings her children closer to Christ. And that’s why I keep saying yes and keep trying to find balance and failing. When I see how God uses me when I serve others, it’s all worth it.
I do it as an offering, as un-humble as that sounds to “say out loud.” I want my kids to notice that I didn’t go to bed one single night where I didn’t spend my day wholeheartedly trying to serve God through serving my family and others. I want to fall into bed exhausted, knowing I gave everything for Him. I want to do the best I can to take care of me, my family, and the people God has put in my life. My love language is acts of service, so I serve in order to love others.
P.S. This blog post took 9 days to write.
What amazing thing did you do today? Did you listen to a five-year-old’s nonsense story? Did you bite your tongue when criticism was on its way out? Did you accept a phone call from a difficult relative? Did you keep your cool with your over-emotional teen? Did you reach out to another mother in need and encourage her?