Do you ever wonder why everyone always talks about how they want to simplify their lives or go back to the Good Old Days? Why a weekend with “no plans would be a dream come true”? If simple is the life we WANT, then why are we constantly competing for the Busiest Mom Trophy? You know what I’m talking about, right? You see someone on Facebook complain about being so busy, and you just can’t help but think, “she’s not as busy as I am” as you take stock of your busy life.
Well, I think that I won the Busiest Mom Trophy.
My husband worked 70-80 hours a week, home only long enough to say hi, mow the grass, and fall into bed. I worked two jobs myself, with two more that I occasionally added (like making wedding cakes) on top of being the one who got both kids up for school and drove them there everyday. Housework, doctor appointments, grocery shopping — most fell to me. My husband has always been helpful at home, but he was hardly ever at home and we needed his higher-pay hours to pay the bills.
I was a volunteer-aholic. Vice President of our school PTO, with 6am Walmart trips and midnight book fair planning. 4-H Adviser for the kids’ 4-H club and I volunteered each year to help set up at the county fair. Flag Football Coach, together with my husband, for our daughter’s team. (There were also basketball practices and games we never missed for our son.) Property Manager of our family’s rental condo in Florida, writing rental contracts, scheduling cleanings, and taking 3am calls when our renters lost their keys on the beach.
I was “that Mom” who packed Pinterest-worthy lunches and home baked cupcakes for birthdays. I never forgot Teacher Appreciation Day. We also had an aging farm and acreage, so weekdays held barn chores to keep our animals fed and weekends were spent fixing fencing and roof, cleaning stalls, trimming hooves and giving vaccinations etc. And in my “spare” time, I wrote for a Moms Blog just like this one.
So you see, I won the Busiest Mom Trophy.
Did that win feel glorious? If I’m honest with you, maybe a little. When someone would ask “what do you do?” and I had a list like that, I could see the “how does she do it?” look in their eyes. But it didn’t feel good to realize that I had no time to watch that Netflix show that everyone was talking about. To realize that I had loaded my Nook with books that I was too exhausted to ever read once I fell into bed. I paid bills while sitting in the car line at school. I wrote blogs while I watched the kids at practice. I baked cakes instead of sleeping or watching a movie with my kids. Forget ever having time to get together with my friends or to do a real date night with my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my “busiest” life, but I also felt like I was missing out on something. And despite keeping everything “going,” I never felt like I could enjoy a single moment because I was already planning the next and the next after that.
I needed a change and that change was to give up the Busiest Mom Trophy.
For me, it was an easy change to make (sort of). In a whirlwind adventure, after 15 years with his company, my husband was offered a great job with a new company…in another state. We had a family meeting and agreed that our Busiest Family Trophy could be traded in for more time with Dad and fewer things we “had” to do each week. During a couple of hectic months where we traveled to out-of-state interviews, maintained our current jobs, and celebrated Christmas and New Year, we also packed up our house and farm and moved into a new house in East Tennessee.
Gone were the 80-hour work weeks for my husband. Hello 40 hours, you feel like part time! I quit three out of my four jobs (one job offered a work from home option to keep me). I gave up my volunteer duties. We arrived in between the various sports seasons, so the kids didn’t sign up for anything. All of a sudden, we have TIME. We go hiking on a new trail every week. We kayak the beautiful rivers around us several times per month. We play board games and sit by the bonfire on the weekends. We are learning a foreign language as a family. And this morning, we sat on our deck and drank coffee for hours. There wasn’t a huge list of “things to do” that kept us from enjoying the crisp weekend morning.
My husband and kids are happy. And my gosh, I am happy too…after all, I won the Good Old Days Trophy. It’s not a constant fight to fit everything into the 24 hours each day offers. I get to binge some Netflix and devour Nook books. (I even take naps. Whaaaat??)
And now, when I see someone holding the Busiest Mom Trophy, while juggling everything else in her life, I just hold the door for her and give her a smile. We are not competitors. She has her trophy and I have mine.