24 hours in a day.

Is motherhood harder than it used to be? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But there is something about modern womanhood, and specifically motherhood, that is driving us all to breakdowns and tearful messes over things like burned roast and Pinterest activities that didn’t turn out quite right.

For so long, motherhood was not just part of a woman’s life when she had children- caring for her home and family became her WHOLE life. Of course there always have been exceptions, but overall, that was all that was expected of a woman after she married. Now, don’t get me wrong, I doubt very much that any of us would want to return to the days when options for women were so incredibly limited. We’re lucky to live in a moment in time when we can be mothers AND career women.  Mothers AND writers. Mothers AND {insert your particular passion here}.

But here’s the rub: this is a relatively new advancement. We haven’t figured it all out yet. It gets messy.  And we seem to forget that there are a set number of hours in the day. And so often, we look to others with their gifts and passions, and want the same for ourselves, with little regard for how it fits into the bigger picture of our lives. Case in point: I like to bake bread. I like to cook interesting meals. At one point in my prior life, I was professionally trained for this stuff. It brings me joy and feeds my family and I like to think I have a certain level of natural ability in the kitchen. It’s great. Now, I have a friend who has a beautiful home. It’s so gorgeously furnished and she keeps it tidy and inviting. Sometimes I think about how great that is, and am tempted to tell myself that if I would just prioritize, I could be sitting in a stylish, non-smelly living room like hers.  The same goes for a woman I know who loves to sew clothes for her kids- her kids are always looking like a million bucks and she obviously enjoys making cute things for them to wear. I could go on and on about a friend who is a brilliant artist, the woman from church who owns her own business, or that lady at homeschool co-op who has 8 kids but also always manages to look like she took a shower that day.

This goes beyond the “comparison game”. Comparing ourselves to others (and why we shouldn’t) gets a lot of press. And it’s important. But it’s not the full picture. And to simply say that “we can’t do it all” seems trite. But the fact remains that there are 24 hours in every day. There is a finite amount of things that each of us are capable of in a finite amount of time. If you factor in the amount of things that will actually enrich our lives and serve a worthy purpose, it really narrows down what each of us can contribute to our families and society. And this is what I think our modern motherhood is lacking- the perspective that despite the promise that we can “have it all”, we cannot literally do it all. That’s not deep philosophy, folks. That’s like… physics. Time and space cannot bend to fit in one more hour a day to devote to pinterest crafts. It’s not going to happen. Women have more choices than ever before- but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to actually choose. 

We will always be faced with choices about how we spend our hours, days, years on this earth.  The trouble comes when we try not to choose- when we try to do everything. The great philosopher Ron Swanson once said, “Never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing.” We have to pick what is life-giving, life-serving, and pitch the rest in the old, “Don’t really care anyway” bucket. And then… wait for it… not actually care about it. Are you a person who revels in making a house a home? Scour flea markets and HomeGoods with reckless abandon! Are you the kind of mom who doesn’t get yell-y and swear-y even when your kids are being little terrors? You go and do art projects involving glitter and confetti to your heart’s content, mama! Are you proud of the contribution you make in the board room and love working outside the home? Yes! Your co-workers, company, and society-at-large are better for it, and you’re doing important work supporting your family! Can you be all of these things? Possibly! But then please don’t feel like you also need to cook homemade pro-biotic, vegan, organic meals for your family on top of all that. Pick what gives you life and peace for your family and toss the guilt and shame about the rest. That isn’t moralizing- it’s just being reasonable.  You have 24 hours in a day.  Don’t waste a single one feeling guilty about not doing things that simply aren’t meant for you.

4 thoughts on “24 hours in a day.

  1. Oh goodness. I can relate so much to this! I wish I had time to bake beautiful bread, have an amazing garden, do more art projects, etc, but if I did those things I wouldn’t have time to take as many pictures of my kids, knit or read as many books. It’s kind of amazing how much pressure there is to have, be and do it all!

    1. Yes, so much pressure! But it’s freeing to realize we can just say no to it! Then we have more energy to do those life-giving things that we love.

  2. Thank you. I think we as mothers need to be reminded of this often! I specifically remember feeling so guilty for not crafting with my children but the peace that came when I was honest with myself about how much I dislike to craft and am terrible about it was so valuable. And that’s just a single small example that I could apply to so many things in my life!

    1. I take great comfort in the fact that I don’t remember doing a single craft with my mother, and I still wound up having a very happy childhood. 😉 In my humble opinion, it’s about the spirit that we walk through our days in, not the nitty gritty of crafting, cooking, housekeeping.

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