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19th October
written by Michelle

Before I had Elena I knew I could not keep doing everything I was doing, and take care of a baby. But some stubborn, let-me-try-part of me said, “No, I can do it.”

And I’ve been trying for the past few months, but lately I’ve had to admit, I can’t. I can’t love and take care of our daughter and keep working.  I can’t go to the market and disinfect vegetables and freeze fruit for smoothies and spend time with my sweet husband and take care of myself. We have tried juggling our schedules. We’ve agreed on the, “I’ll do nights, you do mornings” trade off. But it hasn’t been working. I’ve tried keeping up with emails with one hand via my iphone while nursing with the other. I’ve brought Elena along to meetings and bounced her in the ergo while trying to talk to our site leaders. We’ve had more take out dinners than I’d like to admit. And I know I can’t keep staying up late trying to finish everything that I didn’t get done during the day. It’s a bad cycle to get into. My body has been battling being sick and my mind has been fighting the false mantra that says, “I can do it all.”

It’s the probably one of the most dangerous lies to believe, huh?

So often I imagine God, lovingly looking at me, shaking his head…who told you you had to do it all?

•  •  •

So, without wanting to get into the whole working outside-the-home vs stay-at-home mom debate, the truth is I think both involve a certain amount of sacrifice. Moms who choose to or out of necessity need to work outside the home, sacrifice time with their kids. The day-to-day, mundane, yet absolutely precious moments of child raising are often missed out on. Stay at home moms may inherit time and with it the fullness of being around for each and every moment, but there is a weariness in having your day be defined by your child’s nap schedule and not speaking a sentence with more than 3-syllables.

But this mother’s heart is having a hard time with both. I want to keep working, and I want to be home with Elena. I want both/and, not either/or.

I left my teaching position for the next year, because there is not much about teaching that is flexible. And even though my heart will always be in the classroom, I want to teach my daughter first during these precious early years. But I also work to coordinate all of our short-term teams and groups that come down to Guatemala. On a good day I plan and meet with our site leaders and get to remind eager college students and adults that serving is not just something you do one week out of the year. Missions isn’t a trip, it’s a lifestyle. I’d actually like to get rid of the whole phrase “mission trip,” but that’s for another post. On most average days I fill in excel spreadsheets and respond to lots of questions about “What is the weather like in June?” and “Can I wear sandals?” The truth is I like what I do and generally have a lot of flexibility, but having a newborn has changed all of that “flexibility.”

•  •  •

I remember reading a great post awhile ago by Laura over at the Hollywood Housewife, about how hiding help is like denying botax. I am not so much hiding help as realizing that I am having a hard time admitting that I need help. So we’re looking into hiring a nanny or a sitter. Not sure what to call it yet or how many hours or who it will be, but it’s a start. A start at admitting, that I in fact can’t do it all.

And I have so many mixed emotions about it. Both about hiring help and being honest with the fact that I need it.

But isn’t that how motherhood is, a wonderful existence of mixed emotions about, umm… everything?

 •  •  •

So, other Moms…how do you do it? Do you do childcare exchanges? Hire help? Have family watch the kiddos? Any one out there been a nanny or a baby sitter for a family? What was your experience?




  1. Marilyn

    I raised both of my sons in the early years in the village of the university. There was family student housing with lots of moms and dads doing the exact same thing and there was community and carpooling and traded hours of watching kids and doing homework. My first child accompanied me everywhere, to classes and to the library and to internships. Thank heavens he was a buddha child and was content most of the time. My second boy arrived in a whirlwind and was a whirlwind and so he went to university day care which was flexible and near. I too, continue to struggle with asking for help. Raising the boys alone, even now that they are young men, I often find myself just doing things alone when it would be so much easier if I would just call a friend and say “I need some help”. Is this a woman’s lot? It is mine.

  2. Allison

    Thanks for writing this, Michelle. I am definitely one of those people who tries to “do it all” and even without a kid I find myself struggling to find satisfaction with the number of things I have accomplished. It’s a good reminder that we don’t necessarily have to do it all, and it may not in fact be the healthiest for us (physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually). I will pray that you are able to focus on those things that are most important right now. It sounds like you’re on the right track with that :)

  3. […] Before I had Elena I knew I could not keep doing everything I was doing, and take care of a baby. But some stubborn, let-me-try-part of me said, “No, I can do it.” And I’ve been trying for the past few months, but lately I’ve had to admit, I can’t.  […]

  4. 25/10/2013

    Yes. Yes. It’s so hard to try to juggle work and kiddos and marriage and self. I have never figured it out. Right now, we have a PT mix of nanny and preschool and we work opposite schedules to make up the rest. It feels crazy and hectic and overwhelming at times. I think I have used the word “season” a gazillion times these last three months, hoping and knowing that things will soon change. :)

  5. Michelle

    Sarah, yes “season” is such an encouraging word. It is a season and on the good days I don’t want to wish it away too soon and on the hard days I want it to change right now.

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