“How do you keep it all together?” I can tell that she’s really hoping that I am about to open up with a deep well of wisdom as I answer her. She knows that I have 6 kids and perhaps she has assumed that means that I am on top of my game. Really I am flying by the seat of my pants most days and just trying to stay afloat. But I do have some years of experience in mothering (nearly 16) and have learned a LOT along the way. So, I ponder her keeping-it-all-together question and know exactly where she is coming from in asking it.
She needs some hope for the hard days. I decide to be really honest and instead of giving her a neat little formula I tell her that I don’t think that it’s possible - to keep it all together. It seems to me that any togetherness is a perceived condition. Children and life don’t allow for it much. After a disappointed look washes over her face I continue to share my thoughts on having it all together with her. I tell her to not to get me wrong, I was NOT saying that you cannot keep your house neat or that you cannot be organized or that you cannot have a great plan.
What I was saying is that keeping it all together implies that you are completely in control and everything goes your way. It doesn’t. Hardly ever. Kids are ever changing and raising them is incredibly demanding. A mother needs mounds of grace for her children and even more for herself. The dreams and plans you have of having it all together are sure to be interrupted by dealing with heart issues, sick kids, sleepless nights that lead to tired days, a daily battle inside of how much time you spend cleaning up and how much time you spend playing with kids, and I haven’t even gotten to distractions or tangents (like wanting to redo your whole living room. Right. Now!). Did I mention doctor’s appointments and planning meals and running errands?
The only way I know of how to keep it all together is by not allowing it to wreck you when it all falls apart. I’ve spent many moments crying over spilled milk and clothes all over the floor that I just put away. I’ve had heart palpitations over people coming over at a moment’s notice and when my kids melt down in a store. But I think my time is better spent on learning to be okay with the things that happen outside of my plans rather than trying so hard to keep anything outside of them from happening. Know what I mean? I hope this is freeing for you in some way. I have spent years trying to keep it all together.
If we can learn to hold it all loosely and focus on what’s important than I believe we will live lives that are capable of more joy, more grace and even more fun. And that’s what I want for my family and for you too.