“It takes a village to raise a child.” That’s right—an entire small town. Cut yourself a break—you’re just one woman.
You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.
You balance work, home, baby/babies, spouse, cleaning, finances, working out, cooking, shopping, planning appointments and playdates—all the things.
You do it all against the backdrop of Pinterest and magazines and mommy blogs, screaming billions of ideas that feel better than yours and upholding a standard that feels like a finish line that seems to be moving farther and farther away.
Mama, you work hard. You are relentless. You are a lot of good things.
But you are no village.
There's a classic African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child." That's right—an entire small town. Numerous people fulfilling numerous roles. All directed to helping this little bundle of joy have a safe and happy childhood and grow up to be a decent human being. Some teach, some make the kids laugh, some tell stories, some distracted the kiddos while mom and dad got some alone time.
A new mom can lean hard into her community as she learns how to feed a baby, how to discipline a toddler, how to handle her home and work and relationships. Others around her contribute to her needs and she does the same for them. Her contribution is valuable. And the investment into her life gives her the encouragement and guidance she needs in the tough moments.
Maybe most simply, she has natural, frequent, and in-person interactions that fill her craving for relationships and fulfill her needs as a new or veteran mother, while giving her an outlet to be the same thing for another mama.
Will you join me in saying that scenario sounds incredible? Better yet—relieving? My heart aches for it.
Yet sometimes, today, the village feels miles away. We live far away from family, or removed from our closest college friends. Our community of mamas is contained in the threads of comments on our smartphones, but not next door.
I know in the blur of life we look for time-saving tips for dinner and effortless outfits for work and easy ways to get your toddler to eat veggies. Cheap date nights and 15 minutes a day of some activity to lose weight. Home organizing tips from the pros and career advice so you can rock your job. The one key phrase to use when disciplining your strong-willed child. Quick, easy ways to make your daily routine more manageable.
“Yes, you can do it all!" is the message we hear.
Can I respectfully call that out as a huge pile of dirty diapers?
Underneath “doing it all" is a woman who sometimes feels like she's crumbling under the weight of it all.
We try to contain a village's worth of work within ourselves, and it's no wonder that we feel like we're failing sometimes.
Weary mama, I know there are seasons of life that feel so tiring. I know you miss your girlfriends tremendously and that you quietly sometimes miss the days before babies, before responsibilities took up most of your day. Before the loneliness that working motherhood can sometimes bring. And the pounding guilt that follows those thoughts.
I know what it's like to feel despair because one or many areas of life aren't living up to your expectations. To see the achievements of other women and want to throw up your hands because your daily contribution to the world feels as significant as dust. To feel like you need to possess the strength and capacity of 10 women just to accomplish the admirable life of one.
Can I untangle something for you? Something in your heart, that if you are like me, sits in a ball of anxiety and feels as heavy as lead sometimes?
You are not the strength of 10 women—you were born as just one.
One capable woman, one smart woman. But still—just one. You, in all your passions and hobbies and character and flaws.
When the village feels far away, it's okay, even necessary, to do the work of one and not hold yourself to the standard of 10. It's okay if you don't want to have it all.
I bet there are parts of this messy motherhood that you are incredibly good at—parts that you enjoy. And there are others that aren't as fun. Can I give you permission not to do it all? Own the parts of life you love and thrive in.
Let yourself off the hook for the rest.
It really doesn't matter if you leave the house messy. Or if you are a working mom who gets take-out most nights because you'd rather spend time with your little ones than cooking for them before they go to bed. I'll still think your life is beautiful, even if you never get that Instagram-worthy family photo. If you aren't Joanna Gaines, no need to force yourself to have the most rustic, charming, perfectly coordinating house on the block. And when your toddler throws a tantrum at brunch, I'll shoot you a sympathetic smile that will hopefully ease the judgmental looks of everyone else.
So, leave the dishes in the sink. Worry about the work project later. Give the side-eye to that Pinterest project you know you'll never get done.
You are a spouse and you are a mama. Two beautiful, amazing roles that just require two things of you: To show up and love. Isn't that the point of this life? To love the ones that have been entrusted to us.
Kiss your partner, then kiss your baby, then call it a night. It's not just enough.
It's an overwhelming success.
A fellow mama, right there with you