Do Today's Have-It-All Moms Regret Having So Many Choices?

Filed under: Opinions

I wear a lot of hats. Most mothers do.

We have children. We have dentist appointments to schedule, fridges to clean out, socks to find, birthday party RSVPs to make, coats to find, bills to mail, laundry to rewash because we forgot to dry it yesterday and now it stinks, grocery lists to make, hair to untangle, camps to sign up for, backpacks to find, dinner recipes to pick out, lunches to make, little fingernails that once again need clipping, play dates to arrange, bus stops we can't be late for but are going to be because NO ONE CAN FIND THEIR SHOES ...

On top of that, in my case, I've added a blog that I work on nearly every day. Lots of email to which I need to respond. Tweets to tweet. A Facebook fan page to update. Daily Hope messages to send out to women suffering from postpartum depression. A ParentDish column to write. A new nonprofit to get off the ground.

Every morning, I get up, get my kids ready and take them to school, and then I fly back home as fast as I can to start working. I work straight from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. I rarely get up from my desk, even to go to the bathroom. I'm on FI-YAH, fingers flitting across the keyboard. In fact, I'm so completely engrossed in working during those hours that I had to set an alarm on my phone to warn me when it's time to pick up the kids.

I love my work. It has enriched my life in ways that can't be measured. Every time I walk into my office I'm excited to get going. At the same time, though, I feel pressure. I've noticed that pressure hits its high point every day at about 2:30 p.m., when I start to feel the anxiety rising in my gut. Only 30 more minutes until the alarm goes off. I have so much to do. I'm way behind. Send that email, quick. Oh gosh, only 15 more minutes. What can I do in 15 minutes? Not much, at least not much that's done well anyway.

In the car on the way to the bus stop, I'm thinking about all the work I didn't accomplish, rather than all the things I did. Then it's homework time, snack time, empty-the-dishwasher time and play date time. My brain is still going, though: Crap, I missed that deadline. Wait, am I being present with my kids? Am I paying enough attention to them? Oh gosh. Stop thinking. Your babies. Important. Focus on the babies.

Do you have a time like that during the day, your own version of the 2:30 Anxiety Attack where all of your hats start competing for your attention and you feel overwhelmed and pulled in different directions? Is it when you are leaving work because you need to get home to your family but your boss wants you to stay to do something else because his or her boss needed it yesterday? Is it when you are playing with your kids but thoughts start creeping in about how you need to clean the house before so-and-so comes over? Is it when you're taking a shower and forget whether you've already washed your hair because you've been focused on composing blog posts or office memos in your head? Is it when you are so tired at the end of the day that you can barely manage a conversation with your spouse?

Sometimes I feel like I'm giving less than the whole me to everything that's important. I can't do it all. It's not possible to do it all. Yet I've been as yet unwilling to give up "it all."

Meagan Francis, author of the blog and forthcoming book "The Happiest Mom," says she's trying to do fewer things and do them better this year. In a recent blog post, she wrote this:

"I realized that I already know the things I need to do, which is different from all the things I could be doing. And here's the trick: It's more important to actually do those things that need to be done than to pursue the shiny new idea right around the corner ...

The truth is, every day brings with it plenty of opportunities for us to do better -- not perfect, but better -- at small, familiar things instead of chasing down the next new thing that will "make" us more: fulfilled, successful, better parents, more in shape. The more I try to do everything, the more elaborate a schedule I cook up -- the more I slack off, drop the ball, leave things hanging. Because I can't do everything and do it well."

Guilty as charged.

Meagan likens all of the options of things she can do to a buffet where everything looks so good you decide to pile your plate high, later regretting how much you ate and rummaging through the medicine cabinet for Pepto. That's me. I'm not sure how to stop eating, er, drinking from the fire hose, er, doing so much. What about you?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.