These days, a click on my Facebook app usually means a few (ok maybe more than a few) moments of mindless scrolling through recipe videos, cute photos of my friends kids, and inspirational memes with a beautifully landscaped background and a motivating quote or scripture. But recently while scrolling through, I came across a status update that made me slow down, and I even clicked and wanted to read all of the comments to see the responses that others were giving. The update was really more of a question. A young, working mom of three little kids was asking other mommy friends how they manage it all. She runs a thriving business and has a beautiful family, but nestled in between photos of her kids at the apple orchard and posts to promote her business, was this simple question: Mom friends, how do you do it? How do you get all the work done that has to be done and find time for friendship? How do you keep your clients happy, your kids happy, and your husband happy all while keeping a clean house? The comments came flooding in. Some moms encouraged day care/parent's day out programs to squeeze in a few hours of uninterrupted work time or lunch with a friend. Several comments were more along the lines of "I don't have friends" or "what's a social life?". I read through these and instantly thought back to the days when my kids were small and there was always more work to be done than hours in the day to do it. My heart hurt for this momma, and the mommas commenting that they felt overwhelmed. All my kids are in school now, and I don't have a job, and there are still days when I feel overwhelmed. I don't know if that feeling ever goes away until they leave the house, and even then there is still probably a sense of too much responsibility. Honestly, I don't know this girl well. We may have met once or twice. We have several friends in common, but definitely aren't going to grab coffee anytime soon, but I wanted to comment so badly. So this is my response to her and to all the others out there who feel overwhelmed.
I wanted to tell her that she is enough. There will never be enough time to get all the work done. You will not meet every deadline. There will be days when your calendar is so full and you are counting down the moments until you can drop kids off at preschool so you can start tackling the to-do list. And on that very busy day, your baby will inevitably projectile vomit all over her bed or wake up running fever. And you will probably cry as you put your daunting list aside and settle for watching cartoons, and washing sheets, and cleaning up messes all day. But even on the days when the list doesn't get done, you are enough.
There will be days, weeks even, when you and your husband feel like passing ships in the night, more like roommates than lovers. Those days won't last forever. Your baby will learn to sleep. His big project at work will eventually be finished. And someday your sitter won't cancel last minute, and you will go on a date again. But even in the midst of those lonely days, you are enough. When all you see is crusty boogers on your sleeve and hair that hasn't been washed in way too long, he sees super-woman. You are enough.
There will be days when you miss a deadline at work. You will try so hard to manage all the details and write everything down. You will send all the emails and make all the plans, and go in early and take the work home so nothing gets dropped, but something will drop. It's just a matter of time before a phone call gets unreturned or you forget to send the email or the meeting runs long and you miss something. Even on those days, when you feel inadequate and frustrated and tired of failing, you are enough.
I don't know how all the work gets done, but it does. You learn what works for you and your family. That may mean eating more take-out than you would like, but that's ok. That may mean movie night on the couch after the kids are asleep instead of your favorite restaurant for a date, but that's ok. It may mean taking on fewer clients during this season so you don't lose your ever-loving mind, and that's ok. You are enough. A few years ago, I took a long hard look at my life. I was stretched so thin, in every single direction. I was failing at work, at marriage, at parenting, at laundry. You name it, I was doing it poorly. And my attitude was gross. I was no fun to be around. I was beyond stressed out and I had no one to blame but myself. How did I get this way? I had to stop and evaluate every single thing in my life.
I asked myself a very simple question: What are the things that only I can do? The list was actually pretty short. Only I could be my husband's wife. I was the only one who could love him and meet his needs the way they needed to be met. Only I could mother my kids. God gave these three wonderful people to me to parent and to love. Babysitters are wonderful and so necessary at times, but I was the only mom they would have. Only I could be responsible for my health, both spiritually and physically. No one was going to spoon feed me the Bible. No one else was going to make me pray. No one else was going to put good food in my mouth and make me move my body to get some exercise. There were a few things at work that only I could do, but most of what was on my plate were things I had taken on that I should have never said yes to. They were things anyone could do, but my control-freak self thought I was the one who could do them best. Answering this simple question was the easy part. Actually making a change was excrutiatingly hard, but so worth it. What are the things that only you can do? Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD.
Now here’s the beautiful thing about all of this. We were never meant to carry these things alone. In fact, we can’t. We will not succeed at these roles if we try to do them in our own strength. But this is a good thing! John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We are not called to walk our journey alone. A husband is great. Friends and family are wonderful to lean on during life’s crazy times, but we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother and a Savior who longs to connect with you and lighten your load. So often for me, during super busy times, I find myself pushing time with the Lord to the bottom of the list. So many other things seem so demanding, but in fact, it’s time spent with Him that will actually sustain us and give us the strength we need to get through each and every day. Rest in the knowledge that you are just a branch, connected to the beautiful vine. We can not bear fruit without Him, and when we find our purpose, strength, and identity in God we find that we are so much more than enough.
To that amazing mom who had the courage to ask for help on Facebook, you are enough, and you are not alone. The days are long, but the years are short. Before you know it, your kid will be driving and thinking about college (yes, it happens). They will be old enough to ride their bike to the next street to play with their neighborhood friends and you will have to beg them to come inside so you can feed and bathe them. Your babies will grow up and won't be babies, and your calendar will be full of coffee dates with friends and maybe even a weekend getaway with your husband. Your business will be thriving, and you will look back and wonder how you ever did it all, but I pray you will always know that you are enough.