During my last few semesters of law school, I worked as a part-time nanny for a family of six: two parents, two girls, and two boys. When I started, the kids were all under the age of five. Right now, some of you are thinking “Whoa…those people are crazy! No wonder they needed a nanny!” but let me assure you, they didn’t really need me. They have an absolute rock-star mom. She’s that mom who bakes homemade bread for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she feeds her children. Her kids know what foods like lamb and asparagus are and they actually eat them. She homeschools her two oldest. She makes time for at least one date night with her husband each week, every week. She does all of this and still has time to take care of herself. And above all, she is one of the best people I have ever met in my life. She is warm and fun and gives so much and loves God with all of her heart. It is no coincidence that I met her just a few months before I got engaged. God wanted me to have a real-life example of the wife and mother I hoped to become. I could not be more thankful for the time I spent with that family.
After a year and a half of observing and practicing, I got married and was unpleasantly surprised to find that doing it “all” didn’t come naturally to me. I love to cook, but I have trouble motivating myself to do it more than twice a week. I love a clean house, but after I’ve finished the laundry and the dishes I have serious trouble talking myself into cleaning the bathrooms. It seems like I never have enough hours in a day to finish everything I want to accomplish while still making time for my husband. And when I have to admit to him that things didn’t get done, I feel like I’m failing as a wife. I start wondering (panicking about) how I’m going to manage when we expand our family. But it’s not Sam who is making me feel that way. It’s me. I’m mad at myself for not trying hard enough. For getting complacent. For resigning myself to the fact that I can’t do it all. But isn’t “all” relative?
I’ve lost count of the amount of women I’ve spoken to who have discouraged me from even trying. They give me tips on how to accomplish some things, but they remind me (rightfully so) not to compare myself to women like the one described above. She’s just a special case. “Real” women can’t be expected to do all of that (what does this even mean?). It’s 2015! Today’s women are too busy working to cook or clean. They’re too busy running the world. But what about our moms and aunts and grandmothers? They did everything. They raised more kids than most of us will. Some of them worked multiple jobs. They sang in their church choirs and sat on committees. And they fed what must have seemed like an army every single night. Of course, times have changed. But what would happen if we tried to emulate them just a little bit?
What would happen if we gave ourselves a healthy dose of grace and jumped right in? What if we made it our mission to only serve home-cooked meals during the week? What if we promised to deep clean at least one room in our homes each day? What if we scheduled a date night with our husbands and a game night with our families each week? What if we took up a new hobby that would benefit our families while also giving us some quiet time (like sewing or baking)? What if we hired a babysitter for a few hours each week so we could get our hair and nails done? I’m willing to bet that we would wake up at the end of the week feeling fulfilled, refreshed, more beautiful and maybe even a little proud of ourselves. Every week won’t be perfect, and some things will inevitably fall through the cracks, but we’ll sleep better at night knowing that we did everything we could do to make it all happen.
So instead of rolling our eyes when we see a woman who seems to have figured out how to balance 15 things at a time and make it look easy, we should seek her out. Ask questions, exchange recipes, share babysitters, hold each other accountable and, most importantly, celebrate each other. Because we’re all amazing and we really can do it all.
Just maybe not all at once.