I spent a lot of years feeling inadequate for everything I didn’t get done. I finally realized I was looking at things backwards.
I took a lot of criticism for the dishes not done. The floors not mopped. The laundry piled up. I felt incompetent, unorganized, and worst of all, lazy.
Seeing my life through the eyes of someone else was a mistake. Feeling inadequate because I didn’t live my life by someone else’s standards was a huge mistake. Because seeing my life, through someone else’s eyes, didn’t give a true picture. It simply showed me what they saw. And they saw very little.
They didn’t see that my priority wasn’t my house. What mattered to me were my children. And our circumstances weren’t normal. My older son became ill at a very young age. It took several years before his illness became life-threatening. My youngest son has cerebral palsy. His disability demanded a lot of time and attention.
We got through the illnesses and the surgeries. But those early years set me up to have unrealistic expectations of my own time. I’d given it freely. Illness and disability do that to a person. But I lost sight of my own needs and wants.
When I finally surfaced and discovered within myself a need to write, my oldest son was grown and married. My youngest son was an artist. Because of his disability, he needed me, and I’m conditioned to put children first.
I don’t even know how to describe the conflict that raged within me. I needed. But so did my son. Add to the mix my husband, my house, the pets, my horses. I was drowning in need. How was I supposed to make it all work?
I already knew the person least likely to get their needs met was me. I was weighed down by guilt for the things that didn’t get done. It wasn’t until I sat down one day and started to write out the things I do that I was struck by a great truth.
There are only so many minutes in a day. When I started to list the things I actually did, I was truly astounded. I’m not lazy. I’m over-burdened. I get a lot done; just not always the things that someone else finds important. I work rings around most people.
I took that knowledge and traveled back through my memories. My gosh. When I looked at my life, with wide-open eyes, I’m proud of how I handled things. Instead of feeling inadequate and guilty, I should have been screaming for help.
Knowing that didn’t solve my current problem. I still needed to carve out time for me without taking it from the ones who need me.
To do that, I wrote down everything that needed done. And I assigned it a time limit. I found out real fast there weren’t enough hours in the day. I had to pare down my list, and do it with ruthless honesty.
My horses were the first to go; and the hardest to give up. I found out, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t carve enough time out of the day to give them. They had to go. I mourn their loss, but I know I made the right choice.
I discovered that if I got up at 5:30, I could have three solid hours of writing time before my son got up. My time. I guard it like a hawk. When my husband tells me I should get up and tackle the house first, I stand firm. I don’t go on the housekeeping clock until 9am. My time is sacred. I will adjust when necessary, but I better have fair warning and a good reason. Respect my time.
I know my weaknesses. I’m a poor housekeeper. I don’t enjoy it. Despise would be closer to the mark so when I discovered that I can’t do it all, I chose to get help in the housekeeping department.
I got lucky. My neighbor’s daughter came to work for me. Clean follows her around. She has changed my life. With her help, I am finally able to carve out the time I need.
Looking at the things I do, instead of the things I don’t, has helped me gain a better perspective of my life. I don’t worry any more about the things I don’t accomplish. That’s backward thinking.
Instead, I look at the things I accomplish, and it feels good. No more guilt. No more negativity. I work hard. Maybe not on the things that matter to somebody else, but on things that matter to me. I’m looking at life through my eyes, and it’s a beautiful thing.
How wonderful, Carol, that you learned how to make time for yourself. I think all mothers can relate to your experience, at least partly. I never had a child with a disability, but for years I was over burdened with work. I got up at 5:30 and went to bed at 10 or 11 and worked all day in between. But with me, it took my children leaving home and my retiring from work to actually have a schedule to give me time to work in the things I wanted to do, not just the things I had to do.
The hardest lesson was to leave things undone and not feel guilty. I can’t do it all and had to come to grips with that. Thank you for stopping by and reading.
I wish this could be read by every woman of our generation who was brought up to be a resource. You have so much wisdom to share, and it’s all the more valuable because you paid such a price for it.
Shirley, thank you for stopping by. Ever since I uploaded Akismet to capture the comment spam, I’ve been depressed, thinking the only comments made was from a company who shall remain unnamed. I do write from life experience. If I can help even one person, then I’m pleased.
I love your writings… I think you will help shape me into the best mom and person I can possibly be – just by writing. Thank you.
Becky, that may be one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. Thank you so much for taking time to come to the website and read what I write. I so often feel invisible and overlooked. To know that someone reads my work, and better yet, gets something from it, helps me stay grounded.
Thank you for this.
My expectations for myself have always been to be a “stay at home mom”: to cook and clean and raise kids. There are plenty of hours in the day to get that done. If that’s all I did.
But I have other priorities.
My kids pretty much always come first; that’s a given. But what next?
I’ll have to try writing down everything I do and see where my time goes. Thanks for the inspiration and the idea.
I hope that what I write will inspire ideas for creativity and motivation in others but I’m like you. I work around my responsibilities and priorities and family always comes first with me. It often feels like I get the cracks but that’s okay. As long as the cracks aren’t chasms that eat me whole.
Thanks, Carol. And prayers for your peace and productivity. :)TX
Texanne, thank you for stopping by and commenting. You may not know this but you inspire me.
You’ve had a long, hard road getting to where you are now. Your growth in the last few years has been amazing. You’re an inspiration to everyone around you. Or at least to those with eyes to see.
The journey isn’t over yet. Nobody told me the road would be so curvy and hilly but the absolute worst is nobody warned me about the mud.