It happens slowly. Building up in tiny increments over days and weeks. One day you are at peace with your days — and just busy enough. But yet there is space and room. So you say yes to something new.
You put a new project on your to-do list. It seems like a fun and rewarding idea but quickly transforms into a must do or else. You reach out to your friends for coffee and ladies nights out. Before you know it, your social calendar is full. You agree to volunteer for a school event and find yourself unexpectedly leading a group of people. You need to get into shape, so you sign up for a half marathon and begin a training schedule. And you still need to plan fun outings for the kids and date nights with the husband.
You are in the grind of motherhood.
Now the days are hectic, and you’re just a bit too busy. You are in it deep. How did that happen? How did you go from wondering what to do one day to not enough hours in the present day? It happens all the time to me. All. The. Time. Over and over again. So now, when I wake up to the reality that I found my way back to the grind, I reflect.
I ask myself, Is this where I wanted to end up? If yes, how long do I want to be here? If no, how do I get out of it?
The grind of motherhood is not necessarily a bad place to be. It can be quite fun if you are busy doing things you really want to be doing. Having nothing to do sounds amazing and is for A DAY, but it gets old fast. And I am having a blast in my current grind.
I am creating volunteer art with kids at my children’s school, which has boosted my creative spark. I am socializing with my favorite people. My children and I are trying new things, like horseback riding and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I am volunteering at their school’s annual auction. Our family is spending quality time together, going on outings and playdates and taking the kids to lessons and sports. My husband and I are working on tightening up our budget and stabilizing our morning/evening routines. AND I am writing.
I am crazy busy these days, but as I look at what my time is going to, I genuinely feel happy with all of it, even when I am stressed. I have allocated my time to things I have wanted to gain exposure to, participate in, or learn.
That said, I am ready to find my way back to the days of calm. I am almost done with my volunteering duties and the children’s art projects. My social calendar is winding down for a few weeks so I can gear up for summer. I would love for some lazy days with my kids by the pool or ocean and some open air time in the backyard. So now, my focus is getting back out of the grind.
I am saying no.
I am tapped out. Taking on more right now is not part of my plan. I am tired and ready to shorten my to-do list. I have found that being honest with people generates respect and understanding rather than negativity. Telling people I cannot do something creates boundaries as well as an invitation for conversations about the many things we are both doing.
I am considering new opportunities to engage in carefully. When presented with a new opportunity, I sit with it. Sometimes for minutes, other times for days or weeks. I do not rush the process. Time allows for ideas to fizzle, be forgotten, strengthen, develop, or progress. When an idea or opportunity develops into a sense of urgency or passion, that is typically the moment I decide and base my decision on the feelings I have surrounding it regarding time, energy, and overall desire.
There have been many times where I have found myself unhappy in the grind of motherhood. That is not where I want to be if I can prevent it. Because I cannot always truly know if something I sign on to do will be worth it, I allow myself the time to consider whether I can handle it for the length of time it will take to fulfill the commitment. I make a conscious choice, fully owning what I am saying yes to. Regardless of how much I end up enjoying it, at least I know I gave myself, my family, the requester, and the decision the respect deserved. With that in mind, I am always good with fulfilling my commitments. By taking the time to really think about how the task will affect me and my family, the likelihood of the next grind being fun and enjoyable is increased.
I have come to learn that the grind of motherhood can be a flowing and constantly changing force. We can be in it and we can come out of it. Intentionally creating it and intentionally withdrawing from it seems to me to be a wonderful and more enjoyable way to coexist with it.