Thursday, November 8, 2012

To the Woman Who Is Trying to Do It All


Dear Woman Who Is Trying to Do It All:

Please stop.

I could end my letter at this point, but I fear that two words wouldn't be enough to convince you.  I know this because I'm one of you.  I'm a feet-hit-the-floor-already-running, head-hit-the-pillow-still-thinking kind of a girl.

It's hard to slow down when so much needs to be done, and "so much" needs to be done too much of the time.  To-do lists taunt you, full email inboxes glare at you, full laundry baskets call to you, and full dishwashers irritate you.  You sweep the floors, pay the bills, make the beds, change the diapers, pick up the toys, fix the meals, sign the permission forms, schedule the appointments, take the conference calls, say yes to the committees, and meet the deadlines.  You grade the papers, balance the spreadsheets, sew the patterns, watch the neighbor's kids, and teach the classes. 

You don't bother to sit down when you eat lunch.

When you've found your stride and have all cylinders firing, you think to yourself, I'm a machine.  When you're floundering, you simply sleep less, try harder, and pull yourself up by your bootstraps because it's what you do.

You keep afloat.  You always have.

But, one more thing always can be added to already-full schedules, and one more thing often is added.  When there isn't a moment to spare in your overflowing days, the unexpected phone call feels like a burden.  The unplanned inconvenience escalates to a crisis.  The child who wants you to read another book suddenly becomes a hurdle to overcome in a long string of duties.  If you allow yourself even one moment to reflect, you acutely feel the hollowness of such a full, yet empty, existence. 

You might not know whether to snap or to cry or to lie despondently on the couch eating Oreos, but you do know one thing: you can't sustain this pace.

Dear, dear woman who tries to do it all, may I please share something that I'm slowly and painfully learning?  You never were intended to do it all.

We are human beings, not human doers.  We desperately need time to be.  Just be.

There never will be an end to work; we always can do more.  (At least, we too often convince ourselves that we can.)  In light of this, let's not waste our greatest strength on tasks that matter the least.  Let's not let seemingly urgent demands yank our attention away from the things, and especially the people, who are most important.  Unanswered emails and unwashed dishes in the sink sometimes can wait.  Unhugged children cannot.

So, dear woman who's trying to do it all: please stop

Not forever.  Just for as long as you need to hear your own thoughts, loosen your tense shoulders, and find the surprising pleasures that arise from even unproductive days.  Stop long enough to be still and know that you are not God.  Stop long enough to admit that although you can do a great deal, you never were intended to do it all.

Warmly,

Robin Kramer
A Woman Who's Learning To Accept That She Can't (and doesn't want to) Do It All
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20 comments:

  1. beautiful beautiful beautiful and so good for me to read

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  2. Thank you. That is really very little compared to how I feel. Yes, I am this woman. And yes, I kick myself every night when my to-do list kicks my butt. I need to stop worrying about whether or not I’ve scrubbed the stains from my husbands white shorts yet because it can wait until Saturday (he shouldn’t own white anyways!). My son wanting to play tractor or rock-band (oh yea we make homemade instruments!) can not wait!

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  3. "Be still and know that you are not God."

    Perfect.

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  4. So well said!!  And something so many of us need to hear (including me!).  Thanks, Robin!!!

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  5. Ah, how often I try to do it all, too! I needed this reminder to slow down today...long enough to find that surprising joy again! 

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  6. Jessica StockNovember 10, 2012

    Thank.You.For.This.!!!!

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  7. Catherine GrahamNovember 12, 2012

    Wow... I needed to hear this. I am sending this to all my moms in my playgroup...they need to hear it, too!

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  8. Jessica HeightsNovember 12, 2012

    Amen!!

    But, when you have a moment, do one more thing: email me back so we can go get ice cream! ;)

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  9. This. This is awesome. Beautiful. Thank you 100 times. I needed this today.

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  10. AbigailmathiasJanuary 01, 2013

    such a simple and poignant message.

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  11. Thank you so much for this encouraging post! I'm not sure why we need to remind ourselves of this so often (at least I do!). Grace. We need a whole lot more grace. Thanks, again. I'm visiting from The Deliberate Mom's #BlirthdayBash. So glad I did!

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  12. Hi Robin! What a great post for me. I really can be a Type A. I have recently cone to the fact that I really need to take time for myself. It's okay to take a deep breath! It's been a process, and I have paid for it with my temper and my health. Sometimes I need a blow to the head to wake up. Ugh.
    Thank you for your visit to my blog, that was so kind of you to visit and comment too. I hope we can become good blog-friends.
    So nice to meet you!
    Ceil

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  13. What an awesome, awesome post to share at my #Blirthdaybash! How come I've never read this one before?! Wow! You consistently blow me away.

    I see you've met a few fellow attendees! Yay! And you met Ceil! I'm so glad! I've been wanting to introduce the two of you... she's a great blogging friend and she's like a spiritual mentor to me. I just love her wisdom.

    Thanks for sharing Robin!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

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  14. Um, I really, really, really needed to read this right now. I feel like I am failing at everything right now, and this just makes me remember that there's no possible way I can be perfect...ever. Thank you, and it's so nice to meet you through the #BlirthdayBash!

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  15. I. Can't. Stop. :-) I just love to be involved in all of the things. I always know that I take on too much, but then something just falls by the wayside which makes me realize that it wasn't really that important.

    Thanks for sharing at The Deliberate Mom's #BlirthdayBash :-) It's great to meet you!

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  16. Wow. I am this woman. Sometimes I like to think was. I'm getting better at cutting back, at not stressing that the house is a mess and dishes are being left for another day. I'm a teacher and from what you said I'm assuming you are too? Following on GFC now. Angela @ Trusting the Journey of Motherhood

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    1. Too often, I also am this woman. It's always a process to cut back and not stress about life messes, isn't it. You correctly pegged me -- yes, I teach. Thank you so much for visiting; it's nice to meet you!

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  17. I think I need to post this over my coffee maker!!! This is truly something to read for those who are having hectic days! or like me- everyday!

    Thank you!
    cookiecrumbsandlittleones.blogspot.ca

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