We’ve had company for the past week, so that means lots of cooking, lots of dishes piled up, and general disarray of heart & home. Which, in all honesty, gives me a bit of anxiety. It’s funny how a simple task left undone unglues me. Makes me feel out of control.
Since having kids, I’ve learned that my perception of “control” is very much tied to our routine. As novelist Flannery O’Connor says, “Routine is a condition of survival.” And with three under 4, I’m very much in survival mode. Some days we thrive, and other days, well, we just get by. For me, “routine” is loose – we don’t do the exact same thing the exact same way everyday; however, there is a general order to our day that keeps everyone (including myself!) from going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
When we get thrown off course, I either go into overdrive or I feel paralyzed by the multitude of what needs to get done. I can’t help that in order to feel some semblance of peace, I need outward order. Everyone is different about this, but for me, dishes done, beds made, and a somewhat tidy house makes me feel good. I’m a Libra, what can I say?
Harmony in my home creates a domino effect, and small victories throughout my day help me stay motivated, centered, and proud. And as mamas, we should feel proud because on top of all the apparent, daily chores, we are also caring for, teaching, entertaining, and feeding our children – an all-consuming job. Or, we go to work or school outside the home, and have constant demands, deadlines, and expectations to meet – an all-consuming job.
And, if all of that wasn’t enough, mamas carry an unspoken burden or as Erin Pepler calls it, “the invisible workload of motherhood.” Pepler writes,
“It’s the things we do for our families that are necessary but go completely unnoticed. The endless list of small tasks that would only ever draw attention if they didn’t happen. The mental weight of doing it all, remembering it all, feeling every emotion in your family and worrying, constantly.”
Perhaps more than anything, it is these invisible tasks that really throw me for a loop when we get off our routine. Because these are the tasks that quickly pile up, and yet you can’t outsource. They are often too hard to explain and so specific to your individual child or family that by the time you explain it to someone else, you wish you would have just done it yourself.
You wonder why you can’t relax during nap time, why you can’t shut off your brain at the end of the day, or why you snap at your husband when he brings you a junior double cheeseburger instead of an adult-sized single cheeseburger (I don’t care if it saves $2, I want it the way I want it, and the kids’ meat is thin and weird). I digress. But you see what I’m saying! We’re drowning in all the things, all the time, trying to keep it all straight. No matter how supportive your partner or supporting cast is, managing everyone’s needs is stressful, exhausting, and never-ending.
Does this make me a control freak? Maybe. But, it’s also how I’ve adapted to, survived, and thrived as a mother. Being in control isn’t synonymous with being controlling. Having a routine doesn’t make me rigid, it keeps me sane. You gotta do you. You gotta mom the way you feel authentic, powerful, and innately YOU.
So, whatever your style, and whether you’re thriving, surviving or nose-diving today, just try to stop for a second. Take a deep breath and acknowledge the weight that you carry simply by being a mom. Your work is invaluable, and whether it’s verbalized or not, you ARE appreciated. You are better than anyone at your job because YOU know what’s best for your family. Your load is heavy, but without you, the wheels would stop turning. Keep moving, mama.
You Got This,