A good friend of mine wrote to me the other day after she had read my recent post on ‘Vulnerability’.
“Lately, I feel like a failure as a mom/wife/friend. I can’t say I’m not trying, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like I am doing anything right.”
I mean, who doesn’t hasn’t thought those exact thoughts more regularly than any of us would like to admit?
Yes, there are times that I’ll fully admit I’m not actually trying…like when it’s 65 degrees in the Northeast on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of January and I choose to lay out on my deck sunbathing instead of folding laundry and writing a blog post before the kids get home from school so I can be laser focused on them for the rest of the day. That, my friends, is a very good example of a woman who’s not trying.
More likely than that scenario, though, are the times we’re trying to do too much, but feeling like we’re letting everyone down around us. We’ve got all of these areas of our lives that are important to us and that we want to be the best versions of ourselves at.
Just remember: it’s just not even possible to be the best at everything.
Something is going to have to give. Not entirely, but at least a little.
When my father is in the hospital with a life threatening illness, I can’t be the best mom and coordinate Teacher Of The Week gifts exactly the way I had planned it all out.
When our family is under one roof at 6pm every weeknight, my friends and extended family know I 100% fall off the radar…unless there is an emergency of some sort, in which case I am always, always, ALWAYS able to be reached by text. Basically, I’m not a friend between the hours of 6pm and 5am.
And, Ben and I have 4 kids…two of which are irrational, unfair, unreasonable children ages 6 and 4. Because of that, they seem to think we aren’t worthy of continuing an exclusive conversation with each other for anything longer than 6 or 7 seconds. But, we also know that keeping our relationship strong is probably the most important one to keep strong in our family unit. So, sometimes, when we are being the best married couple we can be, our family “suffers”. For the record, that’s a lot harder than it sounds.
The number of things we can handle being “the best” at is a lot smaller than we’re willing to accept. We’re talking no more than about 3. For me, that ends up being wife, mother, and friend…with athlete creeping in mix occasionally. For others, that might be more like business owner, father, athlete. Or, family member, friend, and artist.
Having said that, there are combinations that support the others…and, combinations that involve areas that are in conflict with the others. Mom, friend, and wife is a structure that is very self supporting. Business owner, father, and athlete has three areas that are all at odds with each other. It’s not that one’s better than another, but it’s good to remember that the balancing act can be trickier for one person than another.
I love Ben’s description of this balancing act representing something like a frisbee on a pencil. There’s never a time when one of the areas is entirely ignored, because that would cause the whole system to crumble. There’s a constant give and take.
It’s all about balance, and figuring out what exactly your priorities are that you want to balance. And, that’s the thing that takes some real soul searching.
What few things do you really want to be the best at?
How are you going to ease up on some areas when one of the others needs more of your attention?
And, how are you going to define the lines in all of that so that people can know what makes you tick and how they can support you in that?
Now, let’s all go spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out the constantly evolving answers to these questions.
3. 2. 1. Go.