When I started back to work after maternity leave with my third baby, I practically ran out the door, eager to untether myself from a life of domesticity (at least for a few hours!). I eagerly embraced my newfound hours of independence, intellectual stimulation, and a break from the constant demands of young motherhood. I was excited to drink hot coffee at last!
But, the novelty quickly wore off: as quickly as the “#1 Mom – Love, Kid 1, 2, and 3!” custom painted mug turned stark white after one accidental run through the dishwasher. With all the glitter washed away, I was left with the reality that motherhood does not get left at the door when I walk out. The demands are virtually the same, crammed into less hours.
In a previous article, conflicted about leaving my last baby at home, I wrote, “I want ALL THE THINGS. I want to be supermom, fit mom, career mom, business woman, wife, and my own person”, thinking that going back to work would magically accomplish all of this. The truth is, doing #allthethings is fucking hard.
Do you ever just feel like you’re faking it? Fake it ‘til you make it, they say. I have an established family, career, home, I am almost done my graduate degree – I think I’ve made it? But, I can’t help but feel I am still faking it in all these roles. I read a meme on social media the other day: “You know you’re an adult when…you pick up the ice cube instead of kicking it under the fridge.” Well, shit. You do not want to look under my fridge. Or my oven. You better also steer clear of my bathroom.
I am a 33-year-old, successful woman by most accounts. I should be an expert at things by now! But, I gotta ask: when does adulthood kick in? I think I have done all the things I am supposed to do. Why does it feel like I am constantly dropping the balls? One kid is forever being neglected, I haven’t been to the gym in weeks, my husband is likely seriously questioning his choice of ‘roommate’, laundry is piled in every corner, I am surviving grad school on luck and good karma. Does reading statistics textbooks to my kids count toward their reading logs? Balls dropped. Some I can’t even find anymore. They’re likely under the fridge with the damn ice cubes!
Adulting is hard. Being a mom of 3 is hard. Being a wife is hard. Being a nurse and an educator is hard. Being a student is hard. Dreaming big dreams, and wanting #allthethings is the easy part. But my dreams now are to make a happy life, for myself and my family. A happy life is not about tick-boxes of achievements and outwardly having your shit together. Maybe adulthood isn’t about trying to juggle all the balls in a half-assed attempt not to drop any, fumbling as you go, and chasing the little effer you kicked under the fridge. Maybe it’s about having the humility to say, ‘I can’t do all of this alone, if any of it is going to get done well’. Maybe it’s about setting your ego aside, so you can set down some of the balls. Here, can you carry this for me? I’ve got some heavy gonads to carry today.
Maybe adulting, and doing #allthethings, is more about acceptance and grace, than the relentless attempt to constantly be proving yourself worthy. Maybe this is the magic moment you become an adult, you’ve made it. When you accept life at face value and push on proudly.
Adulting is hard, and some days I am just exhausted and broken trying to hold it all together. On those days, kicking ice cubes under the fridge keeps me young! 😊