“Want a topic idea for your mom blogging- What about how motherhood is a never ending, no winning struggle. If you focus on work, you neglect your family. If you focus on family, you neglect your work. If you focus on the kids, you neglect your husband. If you focus on your husband, you neglect your kids. Focus on you, and you neglect EVERYTHING. Then, you just end up with your toddlers watching the Baby First Channel so you can at least do the dishes.” This text message came from a co-worker of mine, an incredible teacher and supermom of toddler twins. I must admit, this came at the perfect time. Her words comforted me, not because I was taking solace in her misery, but because I related to her on a spiritual level.
You’ve heard the metaphor of the man spinning plates. He has them balanced on tiny sticks, all spinning in sync. It’s his job to keep all the plates spinning at the same time, taking time on each of them. If he focuses too much time on one plate, the others will fall. If he doesn’t move fast enough, they will crash to the ground. I can picture the chaos. An image of shattering porcelain and a man frantically sweating as his efforts become futile. The spinning is unsustainable, he can’t continue forever. This is the perfect picture of parenthood. Except, the plates are on fire.
There is no break in the world of the spinning plates, the movement never ends. Sometimes there is a brief moment, usually when Winnie is asleep, when I think “We got this, we can do this”. Then, the morning comes; Winnie had a blowout in bed, she won’t eat breakfast, I forgot to move the laundry to the dryer, I didn’t get my lesson plans done, we’re late to daycare drop off, and I didn’t get to kiss my husband goodbye. Crash.
Often, spinning the plates brings guilt. Guilt from feeling as though no part of your life is getting all of you. Feeling pulled in a million different directions and not knowing which plate to tend to first. For me, a messy house means a happy kid who has spent quality time with her mom. Being late on grades or lesson plans means I’ve had date night with my husband or took time to sweep the mountains of dog hair off my floor. Engaging, colorful lessons usually means lack of sleep or laundry getting washed for the 3rd time. It’s a day to day struggle, which plate will spin the fastest today? I either feel like I’m killin’ it, or they’re all crashing to the floor.
The thought of adding another kid into the mix sent me into an anxiety induced frenzy. I still struggle to picture what out lives will look like. I thought, “We’re either going to have happy kids, a clean house, or my students are going to have the best teacher ever. Not all three”. Will came in our room to find me bawling one night. He asked me what was wrong and I couldn’t fully explain my thought process. I was overwhelmed, emotional (thank you hormones), and exhausted. I expressed to him how anxious I was about becoming a family of four. “This is really difficult, babe. I never feel like I’m doing enough for anyone! I know moms do this everyday!! Since the beginning of time mothers have had way harder lives than me and have juggled WAY more children! Am I the only mom crying in bed tonight? Do all parents feel like this?” Will looked at me with love drenched eyes. “Yeah, love. Being a parent is just that difficult, but you have me and we can do this. Our kid is happy and our house is perfectly clean, we’re good. I love you so much”. I repeated those words over and over. **Thank goodness for an incredible husband who is my complete partner in everything.**
Falling asleep, I asked God how on earth we were going to keep our plates spinning. It hit me. Not once had I come to God with my anxiety about the future. I’d been feeling like it was all on my shoulders as the Mom. I got a swell of emotions in my heart. I felt like God was saying “Give it to Me”. The weight felt lighter when I realized a have a God who wants to help me spin my plates! I’d been trying to do everything “on my own” but, just like the man, my spinning was unsustainable by myself. I began to pray nightly for God to show me which plate needed attention. I accepted that I could only do my best each day, and that was enough. If I gave more attention to my job one day, I gave more to my family the next. If I focus everything on Winnie one day, I make sure Will gets extra love the next. And if a crashed to the floor, God has a whole cabinet full of new plates each day. My anxiety came from the enemy telling me I wasn’t good enough and my desire to give my all to every single priority. It’s still difficult for me to let go and accept that not everything would be perfect all the time. I’m learning day by day that the world continues to spin even though my plates do not. We will all be ok.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7
It’s not just parenthood. Everyone has their plates to juggle, their own priorities. Parenthood just adds a little extra pizazz to the plates. Life can get overwhelming very quickly. It is incredible that we have a God who is willing to take some plates when we get tired.