Yesterday’s weather was beautiful. I took advantage of it by taking my boys to the playground. My 3 year old finds a balance beam. He takes one shaky step, loses his balance and falls off. He tries again, this time he gets three steps but falls off again. He has learned a little bit for his third attempt. This time, he bends his knees and sticks his arms out like an airplane. He makes it seven steps! then falls. He’s frustrated at falling off again even though he has made an improvement. This time, he gets down on all fours and crawls across the whole beam. He flashes me a big smile 🙂
This is every single mother I know. Starting on the balance beam of life; balancing work, COVID-19 issues, finances, raising their children, managing their relationships and marriages, and trying to take care of themselves at the same time. We try to do it all, taking a few shaky steps while holding all these things up off the ground.
We fall. Frustrated, we get back up and try again, changing nothing. Maybe this time we make it a little further through sheer willpower or manifested motivation. Inevitably we fall again.
This is the biggest fall. It feels like, “What kind of mother am I?” “Why does it seem like everyone else is doing this better than me?” “How long do I have to keep doing this?”. The rationalizations come behind the feelings, “I can’t do this anymore”, “If I keep on this path, I will lose it all”, or “I can’t do this on my own”. So we add some supports, *bends knees, stick out arms*, we hire a nanny, we schedule more self care time, go on Amazon to find new gadgets to make life easier, vent to family and friends, find a therapist, reorganize our schedule, plan more play dates, plan more date nights, plan more nights off. And it helps. It really does. But we are still frustrated. We’ve added four more steps but it still doesn’t feel like enough.
Finally, we drop down on all fours and crawl. And it definitely feels like crawling but we get it done. The only difference between my three year old’s conquering and our conquering is the smile at the end. My son is happy; he has won, he has finished, he figured it out, he feels good about himself! We don’t. Usually we are disappointed that we had to resort to crawling. Why though?
Why can’t we smile at the end? Can we be happy that we got it done no matter how it was accomplished? If instead we accept our crawling as a means to walking and then eventually running, how many other possibilities are available to us? Today, I believe that there is no model for motherhood or family life. Everyone has their own way of doing things and in every single way, that task is accomplished. So smile at the end. 🙂