That's the way I figured out to explain my life right now. How different I feel with my Aunt Connie here. (And of course, Joni only adds to the help, even though she is only here two weeks.)
I feel like I am not, for the first time in nearly five years, just treading water. I sorta feel like I am getting to swim a bit. I don't feel like each day I am doing just enough to keep up on things. I feel like I am actually getting ahead.
When Veronica was with us, it was only for ten months and it was a busy ten months. Ten months of an appendicitis and storknesting in Germany and a new baby. So even though I had her help, there was so much going on ... so I was still treading.
But with Connie here, I am actually writing (a little.) I am actually eating sitting down (a little.) I am able to exercise (a little.) I am able to do some projects around the house that were just in a stand-still. I have actually gone to bed a few nights without collapsing of fatigue. It's amazing.
The biggest two things my aunt does for me are: (a) maintain the kitchen and (b) maintain the laundry. She takes care of those two jobs completely. It is so amazing. She also provides another set of eyes to watch the kids and will keep Abigail or the boys so I can run errands without 1 or 2 of the kids. And she plays with Scrubs a ton. She gives him tremendous love and attention.
If I am being honest, I am still struggling with guilt. I feel guilty that she has to be here. But when I really think about it, I realize that she does not have to be here. I could definitely do it without her. But I'd be doing it while treading water again.
And swimming feels really, really nice.
So I've decided to let the guilt go. I'm going to "try" and not worry what people think.
I read an article the other day. A blogger from a popular parenting magazine was quitting after just one year. Her reason? She just could not handle the criticism she was receiving about anything she wrote about. "I’ll admit that part of it is that I’m simply burned out on the criticism and hateful email that I seem to get no matter what I write," she explained. "It is not easy to share as openly and publicly as I do, and I might just not have the backbone for some of the responses that I get anymore."
I know how she feels. I don't blog on that large of a scale, but comments still hurt. I am a people pleaser. I want people to like me. I want people to approve of me. I realize that some people (whether they say it out loud or not) will feel that I am not strong enough if I have someone living here with me. That I can't do it by myself.
I ... don't ... care.
Okay, so, actualy, I do. A little. But I'm pushing that down. I'm pushing it down for all the mothers out there who feel shame if they cannot do it all. We want to pretend that we have it all together. That we can do the crafts and run the errands and keep the house clean and make the dinner (which I have long been okay with admitting I don't do.)
I told my Aunt Connie that I felt guilty because, "other mothers seem to have it altogether, and I need help."
"Who are the 'other mothers'?" she asked me. In other words: who are these women you say have it all together. Do they realy exist? And if they do, are they someone you would really want to be?
I see too many mothers completely worn out. Treading water. Or maybe not even treading. Maybe drowning a bit. Why are they doing that? Of course, they might not have the extra money, like I do, to buy their aunt a plane ticket to come help. But they do have the ability to barter with a friend and get a little time to grocery shop by themselves.
And they need to do that.
We all need to do that. We need to not be afraid to ask for help. To ask for encouragement. To admit ... whether we have one child or ten children, that it's hard. The number, the location, the reason doesn't matter.
Let's focus on figuring out ways that we can stop treading and start swimming!