I’m a mom, in case you didn’t know.
There is a pink ring around my toilet because my kids have weak gag reflexes and a love for popsicles. There’s a pile of laundry at the foot of my bed. The dishwasher is always running. There are crayon marks on my walls. Toys on the floor. There are stickers on the window. Stacks of books everywhere. Dried up playdough in corners. Stuffed animals in my bed. At any given time.
I’m also a business owner, in case you didn’t know. And this is my office.
There are cartoons playing in the background. There are piles of scribbled-on construction paper mixed in with piles of design projects. There are craft supplies in my desk drawers. There are bills mixed with company files. There are Snapchat breaks between Skype calls. At any given time.
A friend of mine who’s a new mama and business-owning, world-traveling girlboss recently texted me and asked “How do you get anything done?” In that moment, I was kind of like “lolz I don’t”. Because I did not feel productive that day. I had to cut a meeting short to run to a pediatrician’s appointment for a weird rash and ignored an important phone call because my kids were fighting over a toy neither of them had ever cared about until right just that second. I had put a bunch of vital income-delivering projects on the backburner because I really felt like my kids needed a snuggle-in-bed-after-an-afternoon-at-the-park kind of day.
I felt semi-plagued with guilt, as I do frequently when those questions arise. (i.e.: friends who go “How do you have two kids and always look so put together?!” And you have to lie and laugh and humble brag about how great and independent your kids are and how you always look like a 1950’s housewife, instead of admitting that you literally put on makeup for one event per week, photograph it, and otherwise live in oversized sweats and a baggy paint-splattered T-shirt from a cheer camp you didn’t even go to.) Moms juggle a shitload. All day, everyday. Regardless of where we work, if we don’t, how many kids we have, if we’re married, whatever. We do a lot, for a lot of people. And yet, somehow most of us have the same inner complex and anxiety that we’re simply not doing enough. It takes so long to work out a balance and shut up the guilt.
If I’m working, I’m not spending enough time with my child. If I’m not working, I’m not bringing enough to the table. If I need me-time, I’m not giving enough to my child, my friends, my significant other, my family. If I want this, I clearly don’t deserve that.
It’s exhausting, and PS, you are always enough.
The single most important phrase I’ve ever heard/turned into a mantra is “You can do anything, but you don’t have to do everything”. Because moms really do believe that they have to everything. I am 23 years old, and my mom still makes me breakfast when I show up at her house. She still jumps in the driver seat of my car. She still buys me treats from Starbucks. She takes care of my legal stuff, my nannying needs, and my disastrous kitchen organization. It never ends, even though she’ll occasionally yell over my gossipy drama she doesn’t want to hear “NOT MY PROBLEM, I’M AN EMPTY NESTER!” before handling it for me.
I personally feel that working my ass off is one of the best things I have ever done for my kiddos, with some rough contingencies. I show them what hard work looks like. I show them self-motivation and persistence. I show them professionalism and creativity intrinsically at work. I show them a person doing what they love for a living. I show them a strong woman. I show them security.
I also have to whisper-yell through clenched teeth to teach them not to ask for a Gogurt when I’m on a phone call. I also have to run my hands through my hair, take deep breaths, and sigh “I neeeeeed quiet”. I also have to have my backs to them to focus. I have to spend my “lunch break” vacuuming and cleaning up paper scraps. I have to trust them to keep their playdough on the table and not smoosh it into the stark white carpet. I have to plan time-consuming activities for independent play while I can’t give them my full attention, or really, any at all. I have used Netflix as an $11.99 per month nanny, and she’s been good to me.
Nothing is easy for a business owner or a mom or both. There are always contingencies. There is always guilt. There are always fluctuations. We are always juggling, and always learning to balance. So, long story short: I’m here to answer my good friend’s question.
How do I get anything done?
Some days, I don’t. Because snuggling in bed after an afternoon at the park keeps me bonded to my babies and sane-ish. Because I can’t answer another phone call with a food fight going on ten feet away from me. Some days, I don’t get a single damn thing done other than a shower, laundry, three perfectly-plated 3 course meals, a catch-up call with a friend, and a chapter skimmed from whatever book I’m half-reading. And that's cool.
Some days, I’m a powerhouse. Some days, my kids just win at being assistants. I’ll sit at my desk for hours in silence, banging out every task for the entire week, and I’ll turn around to my son with his nose buried in a book, and my daughter halfway through a puzzle. Some days, I’ll make all the money I’m going to make that month in one solid morning. Some days, I’ll have exercised, showered, been to an 8 am meeting, made breakfast, sent countless emails, invoiced multiple clients, and sent out nothing but top notch work by nap time. And that's badass.
Some days I just don’t do anything. Some days I do everything. Some days I am such a success that my head nearly floats away. Some days I am such a mess, with someone else’s boogers on my pants, with literal fruit snacks in my hair, that I can’t even answer the door for the UPS guy. But everyday, I take care of the things and the people I love. Because I’m a mom, we figure it out, and this is how moms get shit done, in case you didn’t know.