If your mind’s as cluttered as your kitchen sinkMiranda Lambert, We Should Be Friends
If your heart’s as empty as your diesel tank
If all your white t-shirts have stains
If you’ve got some guts and got some ink
Well then, we should be friends.
What’s the Problem?
At the time of writing, the world is basically a dumpster fire.
I mean, the entire world is a dumpster file, but my world specifically feels extra cinder-y. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a peek under the hood…
In the next week, my recently widowed father is getting remarried. Two days later there is a major presidential election which, regardless of what side of the aisle you call home, is guaranteed to be terrifying at best. I have a 4-year-old who just discovered a new found love of tantrums (even better when they’re without cause), a 1 year old who just learn to crawl up stairs (which is apparently especially fun when mom isn’t looking), and a fourteen-year-old who I’m pretty sure is still in her room, but I haven’t seen her for a few days. Maybe I should go check on that. Oh yeah, and I had a minor surgery last week, so I’m trying to do all this with a recently created hole in my body. So there’s that…
If you couldn’t guess this from what I just said, I have been having mental breakdowns like they are Oreo cookies when your kids aren’t looking. (Read: frequently, rapidly, and often in the back of my closet.)
Why have I not been preemptively institutionalized in the looney bin? Glad you asked.
Important Side Note: Before I go on to my actual point, I should probably mention that my poor husband has probably qualified for actual sainthood by now. Either that or we should really buy stock in Hanes with the number of his t-shirts that I’ve cried my way through in the last month. However, he has a kick-ass full-time job (like a real grownup), so there’s a lot of my crazy that still needs to be fielded during the day, which brings me to my actual point.
Tribe as a Coping Mechanism
A few years ago I was looking for an accountability buddy. I met some random girl on some random chat board who was also looking for an accountability buddy. Our first conversation was had over the course of an hour over various interruptions from our then-toddlers. By the time we were done with it, we had talked about zero actual business things but felt like we have been best friends for years. We then proceeded to form a friendship that I would describe as “if I were murdered, she would notice my absence before most members of my immediate family” levels of close.
A few years later, I was looking for someone to take a pass at editing my first book. I am usually a grammar nut so I wasn’t too worried, but I wanted someone who wasn’t me to read it and tell me it wasn’t garbage. (It wasn’t, apparently.) I went online and found a woman who does freelance editing and send her my book.
When I got her comments back, I didn’t get halfway through the first chapter before realizing that we were apparently twins. We had the same career history, the same age children, we both played volleyball for 15 years, we have the same insecurities about ourselves and life in general…the similarities kept coming, right down to our identical pet rabbits. (Yes, those are two different rabbits.)
A week later, I realized that I couldn’t go two minutes in a conversation with either one of these insanely wonderful women without mentioning the other one, so I smooshed them both into a Facebook group chat and declared that they were best friends as well.
You might think that this is a risky maneuver, because humans don’t work like that.
You would be wrong. They took to each other like preschoolers to playdough and it ended up creating a friendship that we have all three, at separate times, credited for saving us from either homicide or some other crime. (Yes, that was the “how I met your mother” story of how the three co-creators of this blog met.)
Why did this work? It’s not because they understand me.
It’s because they are me.
We get along crazy well despite the fact that we have still never met each other in real life (we have had all of one Zoom call and the rest has been through text) because we have the same set of experiences, the same personality characteristics, and the same internal head gremlins that scream at us when our shoes aren’t perfectly lined up at the door.
When Similar Types of Crazy Unite
We have this shared common experience because we are all three intelligent, ambitious, business headed women who also happened to have children that we love more than life itself.
Yes, our kids annoy the living crap out of us 9 days out of 10 and our deepest fantasy is just to go to the bathroom by ourselves for once (if for no other reason than just did remember what it feels like), but if you threaten any one of us with the prospect of a full-time job away from our kiddos you would get a backhanded slap faster than a toddler reaching for an unsupervised cookie jar.
We may complain about our kids, but we love them more than we could ever put into words (and between the three of us we speak five languages and are all three professional writers…so we have a lot of words.)
Why am I telling you this? Well, as any good alien what movie will tell you: I don’t think we’re alone out here.
If three random women who connected via Facebook blogging groups can find their platonic soulmate tribe without ever meeting each other in real life, I think the odds are pretty good that we aren’t the only three of our kind on the planet. (Whatever neurotic species that may be.)
So, this is my love letter to all the other overwhelmed, empathetic, crazy-ambitious (yet even more exhausted), loving, anxious, overachieving moms out there.
As Miranda says, we should be friends.
Why This Sucks
I don’t know you well but I know that lookMiranda Lambert, We Should Be Friends
And I can judge the cover ’cause I wrote the book.
Momming is a crazy ride. Doing it alone (or even alone with a spouse) is almost certainly overwhelming. Heck, even with a full village I feel two tacos short of a combination plate most days.
However, if you find your tribe, the people to whom you don’t have to explain your thoughts because they have the same ones, the people who get exactly where you’re coming from…it feels just a little bit less lonely, less overwhelming.
You know you’re one of us if…
- You are perpetually conflicted because (due to the tiny humans you created) your career looks nothing like you originally wanted it to, but you wouldn’t leave your kids for all the tea in China (or all the promotions in the US, I guess).
- You can be a good mom, make money, have a healthy marriage, feel some semblance of self-esteem, and keep a clean house…but only two of them ever happen on the same day.
- You spend all day thinking about how exhausted you are, but the second all your kids are asleep all you can think about is the work you can get done now that it’s finally “you” time.
- You have a main career, a side hustle (or five), and then some other part-time things…even though you describe yourself as a mom first.
- You have a hobby you love that is something you would beg your kids to do (e.g. reading, playing piano, etc.), but you feel too guilty, indulgent, or selfish to do it most of the time.
- You feel like a complete and total failure at least 30% of the time, but you have brief, shiny flashes of absolute, Pinterest-worthy, parenting genius (and the former has a much more lasting emotional impact on you than the latter).
- You do your best brainstorming in the shower, in the car, and in line at the grocery store.
- You fantasize about taking an uninterrupted nap, but it’s never actually happened.
- You follow your kids around like a Roomba, attempting in vain to keep your house clean(ish).
- You have unhealthy emotional relationships with fictional characters from books, movies, and/or TV shows because sometimes they’re the only friends you actually can access on a consistent basis.
- You have said “things should calm down next week” at least once a week for the last decade and honestly believed it each time.
- You spend all weekend waiting for the kids to go back to school on Monday, only to miss them the second you get home from dropoff. You count down the seconds until bedtime, but as soon as the kids are asleep you find yourself looking at the pictures of them you took that day with your spouse.
- You have more running to do lists than you have toes. You want to do 100% of the things and actually get time to do about 20%.
- You have forgotten how to have an adult conversation that isn’t interrupted by requests for snacks. You’re a master at breastfeeding on a Zoom meeting without anyone knowing about it. The mute button on your phone is your best friend.
- You are fully capable of simultaneously loving every aspect of your life and feeling thoroughly and miserably overwhelmed at the same time.
Well then…we should be friends.
We can’t be there in person (because we’re three internet women who live in your computer), but if you’re part of our tribe, you have a perpetual friend group here.
If you’re one of us, you aren’t alone. There are whole squadrons of moms just like you waiting to make sarcastic comments about your kids’ inane behavior, come up with startlingly-vivid death threats against people who anger you, and listen and actually want to hear about it as you describe events from your day, even though you’ve had pretty much the same day for the last 87 days straight.
How to Handle It
There’s no way to “handle” these feelings.
It’s hard dealing with the emotional, vocational, and psychological contradictions of being a multitasking mom. You aren’t failing at an easy task, you’re battling a mother effing dragon and performing admirably.
Now, this is a love letter to you, my tribe of overachieving, amazing, sleep-deprived, perfectionist mamas. I don’t have any life-changing answers that will immediately make all your problems go away.
However, those of you who are familiar with my work know I try to end each blog with a present for my readers, so here’s what I have for you today.
Part of being a mom is figuring out which of your million and a half tasks are going to catch fire and explode like the Hindenburg if you don’t do them this very second. There’s a lot of crap to focus on and it’s very easy to forget about important things when you’re constantly being pestered to go to the park, make stuffed animal voices, or answer their questions about where monkeys come from.
So I present to you my Multitasking Mom’s Morning Battleplan. (I wasn’t going for alliteration, it just happens when I’m sleep-deprived.) This is the sheet I’ve created for myself to ensure I don’t drop any balls that are too important. I take 5 minutes every day to fill this guy out and then shove it in my pocket/purse/bra/whatever to consult throughout the day.
Print this out and use it to organize your chaos for a few days. It won’t fix everything. (Heck, it won’t even slice your kids’ grilled cheeses into hearts for you.) However, it should make everything just a little easier to bare.
Free Multitasking Mom’s Daily Battle Plan
You know that list you have that’s 10 pages long? Tired of “falling behind” every single day? Tackle it all with a battle plan from one mother to another.
If you’re a highly-intelligent, driven, ambitious woman, who has things she wants to accomplish in life, but feels like she’s fighting a losing battle with time…if you love your kids more than life itself and would cut anyone who suggested you spend more time away from them, yet sob with relief when you get to shower alone in silence…you’re not alone, and we should be friends.
Your (internet) friend,
Liz Bayardelle, PhD
Liz is the mom of three human(ish) kids, three furkids, three businesses, and eight blogs. She also has a PhD in Business Psychology, several published books on parenting psychology, and a serious Chick-fil-a addiction. Hobbies include color coding anything that will hold still, reading textbooks for fun, swearing at her herd of dustbunnies, and nodding off mid-sentence at the dinner table.