You know what I’m tired of hearing? The statement, “I don’t know how you do it all.”
It’s not a fair statement, to be honest. In fact, a quick analysis of the statement, with or without context, tells me two very simple things. The first issue at hand is that the stater feels less than, not confident, and is probably comparing cards. The second issue is that the stater is assuming that the person being stated to has it all together, when really, person stated to might be trying to figure out how to issue a cry for help.
I don’t think it’s any major news flash to say that nobody does it “all”. Actually, one time, a long time ago, some 1950’s June Cleaver-ish housewife probably did do it all. Just once. Just one day, she did it all. And even that ship has sailed, sister. It might be a reality check for some, but it’s not brutal honesty for any of us to hear that reminder. Balls are falling, all the time, around each of us. This whole, “Look at how much I get done” thing? IT’S A FACADE. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just flat out delusional. (And seriously, does anyone really say that?)
As I stand here and type this, the dishwasher is open beside me. Yes, I’m standing and typing. It’s easier to stop mid-sentence and run after a kid if I’m standing, rather than sitting with the laptop open on my lap. A baby is in her high chair, trying out turkey hot dogs for the first time. Cold turkey hot dogs. You can start subtracting the mommy points right now. Trust me, I’m going to be working with a major deficit by the end of this paragraph. Two boys are in the other room watching Leap Frog. I told them Tigger move was broken because I’m tired of it already and we’ve only had it on Netflix for a week. Someone just let out a gutteral scream, probably because his brother is sitting on him. I didn’t have to intervene, the screaming stopped. Oh, wait, it just started again.
[Between these two paragraphs I gave one kid a cold turkey hot dog to distract him from bothering his brother. I told his brother to quit whining for no reason, that I’m tired of walking in there and telling him to stop crying.]
And let’s not even get in to what I’m wearing or the last time I washed my hair. I’m not sure I have answers for those questions.
Where was I? Oh, emptying the dishwasher. And trying to write between putting plates away and spoons away, before this post leaves my head.
As a mom to three small kids, a business owner, and a product designer, I would (really) like to establish once and for all: IT DOESN’T ALL GET DONE. And until we quit making the unfair statement “I don’t know how you do it all,” and start asking something else, we are doing ourselves and our community a major disservice. We’re not helping each other grow, we’re not asking how we can help, we’re not listening to our fellow creative mamas. We’re assuming that there are two sides to this world: one where people have “arrived”, and one where people are less-than.
NOBODY is less-than. EVERYONE has value.
To those who feel you are on the outskirts of blogs and Instagram and Pinterest, who feel like you are looking in, assuming that social-media savvy creatives accomplish massive amounts of productive activities every day, please, give yourselves some credit. Some super-mega, fabulous, fantastic, creative mama credit! YOU ARE AWESOME. You are wrangling big ideas and little tyrants on a daily basis.
Mamas and creatives, and creatives who are not mamas, can we, at this very moment, make a pact? An agreement to QUIT asking each other, “How do you do it all?” Can we stop phrasing that question in a way that plays the comparison game? Can we end the discussions about who’s more accomplished, and just operate with the understanding that NO ONE IS DOING IT ALL?
The challenge: Let’s universally agree to drop the word “all” from the tail of that sentence.
Instead of saying, “I don’t know how you do it ALL,” and asking, “How do you do it ALL?”, let’s just start asking, “How do YOU do it?” Let’s ask each other what systems provide balance, what rituals offer sanity, what routines help with productivity. Let’s have conversations about the things that we sacrifice for the benefit of things that matter more. Let’s talk about the lessons that we are learning, so that we can make the journey for future creative mamas smoother. Most mamas are constantly searching for resources, experts, people who are better at things than they are, things that can be delegated.
As a response to the question, “How do YOU do it?”, I would like to propose a more productive conversation: tell us about your awesome. Tell us how you do the important stuff. Tell us how you do what matters. Tell us how you found your balance. Tell us what your strengths are. Tell us what lessons you learned. Blog about your awesome loudly. Because the world needs your expertise, your passion, and the lessons you’ve learned. The world needs your AWESOME. The world doesn’t need to know how you do it “all”. The world needs to know how you do that one little thing really, really well.
What is your AWESOME? Help other mamas do that.