When you can’t do it all…ask for help

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear this phrase a lot–from my mom, mother-in-law, friends, colleagues–and inwardly cringe every time. I don’t know how to answer this phrase. Is it a compliment? A warning of impending insanity?

Usually say, “Me neither.”

I do a lot of things, but so do lots of women. And like lots of women, I usually keep all the balls I juggle in the air.

I have four children: school aged twins, a toddler, and baby, all of whom are constantly hungry
I have a house that never stays picked up, let alone clean
I work from home as an adjunct English professor and freelance editor
I have a husband whom I love dearly (oops! Can’t forget about him!)
But this summer, stuff got real. Stuff hit the fan.

This summer, I felt like Life was holding a whip to my back, screaming at me: “DO IT, WOMAN! DO ALL THE THINGS! DO ALL THE THINGS AND BE AMAZING TOO!”

And this summer, I’ve to confront my Life, the task-master of my own creation, and whisper, “I can’t.”

So I’ve had to say four words that I have stubbornly, foolishly resisted-with-all-my-being to say in the past.

No
and
I need help 

This is how I WAHM (work at home mom)

In order to say “yes” to my basic Life responsibilities, I’ve had to be honest with myself and say, “My life is not working right now. I am stressed out of my mind. Something needs to change.” So…

I gave up a volunteer position I loved.

I cut short a summer book club I started.

Because I have 55 students in my current 8 week term (a course load I used to handle with ease), I scheduled babysitters to watch the kids a few times a week so I can go to Panera and frantically grade papers for a few hours without distractions.

I enrolled my 2 year old in two-day preschool this fall.

I want to do it all. But I just can’t.

And that’s ok. Because none of us can do it all, all the time. Sometimes we have to ask for help.

4 Comments

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