“How do you do it all?” Easy. I don’t.


With Book le troisième coming out soon, I’m getting asked the question again:  “How do you do it all?”

On the one hand, it is a natural question when people find out that I am a teacher and a mom who also writes books.  But it’s also a question that always makes me feel  sort of sad, because it is usually (okay: always) women who are asking, and I always hope that the subtext to their question is not, Geez, I feel like such a slacker compared to her.

One the plus side, the question is a good one because it allows me to set the record straight.  I don’t do it all.   There is actually a great deal that I leave undone.  It probably so happens, in fact, that the things I don’t do are the very  things that these women do do (now say that ten times really fast), and if we were all to share how we spend our time, we’d probably all feel a little bit better about ourselves.

So in that spirit, I will hereby air my dirty laundry.  I don’t do it all, and here’s proof.

1)  Aside from the bathroom and the kitchen, I don’t clean the house unless we have people coming over.  Periodically I get inspired to run the vaccuum or sweep, but this does not happen on a regular basis.  Yes, this means that the corners are often home to herds of dust buffalo.  We survive.

2)  Over seven Halloweens and two kids, I’ve only made one homemade costume.  ( Melissa and Doug do such a good job! Why compete?)

3)  The day before Pajama Day at my son’s school last year, I was at the Carter’s store buying new pajamas.  Had I sent him to school in the ones he actually wore, both he and I would have perished in shame, they were so pathetic and small on him.

4)  My last entry in Luke’s baby book was about four and a half years ago.  He is five.  (I honestly feel kind of bad about this one, especially as the younger child so often gets the short end of the stick.  Then again, I’m not too current on Matthew’s baby book, either.)

5)  Whenever we have a potluck or such at work, I always sign up to bring drinks.  I actually like baking and cooking, but having to produce twenty-five cupcakes midweek and under pressure is just too much for my sanity.

6)  Ironing?  What’s that again?

I could go on, believe me.  My point is that it’s so easy to fall into the comparison game.  I know I do it too, when Facebook friends post pictures of the fabulous iced cake they just made for their hubby’s birthday or of their beautifully handmade floral arrangement or of their yard’s festive holiday decorations.

And yet I have to remind myself: it is not the same person doing all of this.  We tend to see blog and Facebook and Pinterest posts and forget that there are multiple people doing these things, that it’s not one fearsome Stepford Martha Stewart über-wife/mother .   That woman doesn’t exist.  We all cut corners somewhere, somehow — and as long as there are only twenty-four hours in a day and we don’t all have live-in Downton Abbey-like help, that’s just how it is going to be. I’m learning to make my peace with it and hopefully you are, too.  Hopefully all of us can learn to let ourselves off the evil comparison hook and be content with what we do manage to get done, whatever that happens to be.

But I do have one little favor to ask:  Would you call and invite yourself over for dinner?  The house could use a good dusting.

4 responses to ““How do you do it all?” Easy. I don’t.

  1. Amen! And thank you for posting the truth about the way such comparisons undermine our sense of self & self-worth. Ironing? Hah! If I remember to pull the shirts out of the dryer after 15 minutes & hand them up in the shower, I consider this a great accomplishment. I try to focus on the things that matter most to me and let the little things slide. A 1st century sage named Rabbi Tarfon taught, “You are not obligated to complete the work, neither are you free to desist from it.” He’s my hero!

  2. Ha, ha! I knew I was busted when I was dusting one day and my girls started singing, “someone is coming over!” Worse, it was true… and I hadn’t even told them that we were having company – they noticed the correlation.

  3. If moms spent more time building each other up instead of comparing all the time, the job might not be in such a drastic decline…

    Today being all saints day, the children at my parish dressed up as saints. When the priest asked one little girl who she was dressed as, she said, “Saint Mom.” At the end of the day, if your child thinks of you as saint mom, then even if you are not doing it all, you know you are doing just enough. Even if we only clean when guests are coming, because our kids will do the same and only clean their dorm rooms when it’s parents weekend 😉

  4. Yes, yes, yes! I feel that same unease when people ask me that question, that same comparison as if we’re all supposed to stack up the same. And I always think about this, too: all the things I leave undone (dusting! ironing! exercising! crafting with my kids! scrubbing floors when a sporadic Swiffer will do!) in order to do the things I do. We all make time for the things we love, and just because I’m not running marathons or homeschooling my kids like friends on Facebook doesn’t mean I’m less a woman or a mom. Our vocations take very different shapes and hues, and whatever calling we pursue, we leave lots undone in our wake. And that might be holy, too. Thanks for this encouraging reminder.