Sometimes the things you read on Facebook catch you unawares. I read this really powerful article yesterday about how women are struggling to get everything done in a world that demands so much of us. It expressed so well how I’ve been feeling over the last few months and mirrors the conversations I’ve had with so many female friends struggling with their daily grind.
I’m grateful that my friends and I can talk honestly about how we feel, but I know there are probably things we don’t share with one another – from fear of being judged, being embarrassed, not wanting to articulate something so we have to actually acknowledge it and so on…
I am someone who is always on the go, usually running late from trying to squeeze one last job in, constantly thinking, worrying about everything, and planning months in advance to make sure I don’t drop any of the million plates I’m juggling. I constantly worry about getting everything done, getting everything right and set ridiculous goals for myself. I very rarely drop these plates, but if I do, I spend a ridiculous amount of time feeling guilty – usually no-one is impacted but me!
I work 4 days a week to ensure me and my family have money to survive, I moved in with my Grandma last year to take some financial pressure off myself when my marriage ended, which means I now have a 1.5 hour commute to do the school run, before my work day even starts. I have two disabled children who have medical/physical appointments a few times a month – doubled because there are two of them and I can’t take them together since they distract each other so much. It would be comical if we weren’t trying to achieve such important life milestones that they are taking longer to reach (or inchstones as our Williams Syndrome family like to call them).
I am blessed to have such a wonderful team of specialists looking after them – Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language, the Health Visiting Team, Advisory Teaching Service, Paediatricians, Cardiology, Orthoptics, SENCos and their amazing childminders and nursery staff – all setting goals for them to achieve, which we are supposed to work on at home each week, when I’ve finished my 32 hours at work, done the 1.5 hour school run, cooked a healthy meal from scratch, exercised, read a book, spent time with my partner, helped Grandma around the house, done the food shopping, arranged some more appointments and caught up with friends. That’s quite a lot to squeeze into a day! Oh yes, and I was supposed to fit sleep in somewhere.
And then there’s my 6-year-old son, who is such an amazing big brother to the twins. He has learnt quickly that he often has to wait if he needs something because the twins can’t do anything for themselves at 4 years old; that it is quicker to do things himself and has turned into an independent young man who gets himself ready every morning; he’s learnt that the twins are constantly up to mischief and he has to be my ally to make sure we don’t wreck Grandma’s house beyond repair; who is sometimes angry at the world and can’t articulate his frustrations without shouting and screaming because he doesn’t know how; who is missing out on things that single children have because I have to split my time across all three and two of them have additional needs.
And then there is my partner – he leaves the house at 5:30am every day and works 15+ hour days, sometimes getting just a few hours sleep. I want to make sure he feels supported and loved, so we can enjoy this crazy life together – to make sure that we not only last amongst all our other pulls and stresses, but we grow and thrive too.
And then there is my travels – the little bug that sits constantly in my blood. I’ve learnt that having time to do actually do one of my true passions in life and sharing this quality time with my partner is extremely important to my happiness. There is the guilt of spending money when I think I should be saving, but then comes the acknowledgement that if I don’t switch my brain off for a few days every couple of months, I am actually going to implode on myself and have a mental breakdown.
I worry what would happen if I wasn’t here to do all of these things and then I remind myself that I wouldn’t be here to worry about that, so that’s one less thing on my list of things to worry about.
After each week that we survive, there is the niggle that tells me I should be grateful for my life – and believe me, I am so grateful for the many blessings I have. I know things could be worse and I know we have things so much better than a lot of people – but just sometimes, I wish it wouldn’t feel like a constant uphill climb. I know I’m not alone – it seems a common conversation these days – and I know sometimes, it is me that needs to put some of the plates down and save them for another time.
I want us women to keep talking about how we are, to keep helping and supporting one another and not putting others down if their choices in this demanding world are different from ours.
Sometimes all we need to hear from each other, is that we are doing a good job.