Often, I wonder what age I will be when I will finally have it all together. I mean, everything — all the elements of life. Eventually, I will have it all together, right?
The wonder is especially bad when I start comparing myself to other moms out there that appear to be totally killing it. How do they always have it together? How is everything flawless in their life — their kids, marriage, house, job? What is the secret?
Look, it’s not like I don’t try to have it all together. One day, I was totally rocking it — at the bus stop on time and arrived to work earlier than normal — only to realize I rode in on fumes. One day, I won’t wait until that lights comes on in my car to get gas.
And for me, it’s like a domino effect; there I go again letting myself down. Yes, over an empty tank of gas. Because, it is one more thing that I do not have together.
That’s what happened to me the other day. I sat there in the parking garage all upset that I had to go straight to the gas station after work and would get home later than I already was going to, and it started twisting my mood.
In that moment all I thought about was my empty tank of gas which led to runaway overthinking. I thought about the dread of those three loads of laundry that still needed to be folded, how I should have gone to bed an hour earlier the night before — and when will I learn to go to bed earlier all the time? Why didn’t I spend more time cuddling my girls or dig more into their day and their feelings?
It didn’t matter in that moment that I had kept things together that morning. I woke up to the first alarm, took the time to do the girls’ hair in a fun hairstyle, got the kids off to school, did my hair as well, had bags packed for after-school activities and had my dishes cleaned up. Or the fact that I spent time asking about my girls’ day before, reading bedtime stories and laughing over Reagan’s “cupcake” farts.
All I thought about in that parking garage was where I was coming up short. And while I sat there with my “why me?” attitude, I started to think that maybe I am not alone. Maybe all the other moms out there put this same pressure on themselves.
You see, it’s hard this day and age. What we see posted out there on social media is the greatest of everyday life. It’s essentially a highlight reel of the best of everything and all too often leaves out the behind the scenes — the messy truth — that goes into real life.
And, honestly, it is so hard not to compare. Why can’t I have it all together like she does? Oh, she redid her entire living room? Well, guess what? My dishes made it to the dishwasher. They are clean and will get put away in a day or two.
There are so many times I see posts or women who just seem to have it all together and I never stop and think about whether they truly feel like they have it all together or are just showing the all-together parts of their life.
I have my moments — few and far between — when I so have it all together. And it feels good! I, too, want to shout it from the rooftops that I have it all together. But, that’s not everyday life! That is not the way it works. Having it all together is not a destination. It’s not a final resting point. It’s a constant work in progress.
But it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We are all struggling with battles and daily junk getting in our way from having it all together. And no matter how all together someone may seem, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
So, I picked myself up that day, gave a little grace and decided that it was completely dumb to let the rest of my day be taunted by one thing that led to the thoughts of other things that I didn’t have together. I am never going to have it all together, and I need to stop expecting myself to.
Sure, I will keep doing my best for my family and not in comparison of who may or may not be doing it better. Because honestly, we moms have enough pressure on us as it is.
And the truth is that just being together with my girls weighs way more than any part of having it all together.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.