A little while ago I wrote a post called I Am Supermom. And while it was Truth, it certainly wasn’t The Whole Truth So Help Me God. It was one of those rah-rah posts and it served a purpose. It was to encourage and exhort and lift up the broken-spirited in the trenches of motherhood to reach deep down into their guts all the way to their toes for that last bit of chutzpah and ballsy confidence. Sometimes that stuff gets lost amidst the diapers and tantrums and endless laundry, amiright?
So to flip the coin to the other side – here I am today to talk about the things I can’t do.
I don’t mean like: “I can’t knit sweaters and I can’t ride a camel through Russia and I can’t wake-board or snorkel or pole dance or speak Mandarin”, because, Duh.
No. What I mean is that I just simply can’t. I can’t do a lot of things I’m told I should and more importantly I can’t do them all at once while wearing an apron as a liberated Jesus-following strong woman that cranks out babies like Vince Vaughn cranks out summer flicks. I just… can’t.
I’m tired and fighting a 3-day migraine and working my butt off to bring in extra income while fighting to maintain sanity. And I mean that.
There is no margin left in my life. It is not good and we are not living the life we desire with the peace we crave. I’ve hesitated to write this post for so long because of the impact it might make. People might worry! People might feel awkward! People might give me blank, pitying stares! (Ugh).
I was reading a chapter in The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and she shared this quote from E.E. Cummings:
“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight — and never stop fighting.”
My hand’s waving wildly in the air and my eyes are closed and I’m murmering assent “mmhmm, yes”, like a crazy lady with rimmed eyes of exhaustion.
Oh man. I mean – seriously. That is it exactly, isn’t it? Why does our culture insist on placing so many crazy expectations on us? I think part of the problem is just that we are so inundated by information. There’s no end of theories and evidence and information which lead us to a whole lot of ‘shoulds’.
Shoulda/coulda/woulda was immortalized in the birth of the internet and all its information-at-your-fingertips glory.
Following this phenomenon, I think somehow our culture has removed the permission to say “I can’t”. To say that you just are not capable of doing That Thing well and being your Truest Loveliest Self. Now our culture is super into saying “Of course you can do it. You can do anything you dream up. You can do it if you set your mind to it”.
You wanna know what that sounds like in my head?
Utterly exhausting. Crying, weeping tears of despair dripping over my nose and splashing onto my lap of unmet expectations.
Set your mind to it (If you fail it’s pretty much just because you didn’t push yourself or try hard enough)
You can do it (Failure is not an option)
You can do anything (And if you can’t, then there’s obviously something wrong with you)
I’m gonna have to go ahead and call foul on all that crapola. Those sayings are great for some situations, but not exactly applicable across the board, ya know?
What if you’re working your tail off and trying to make the best decisions and it’s just.not.working.for.you. What if your every waking thought is plagued with the guilt of what you did or did not accomplish from your to-do list which is constantly overdue? What if the best thing to do is just wave the white flag of surrender and fall into a heap and say I CAN’T.
I can’t live like this and let life steal my joy and peace any more.
I can’t do it all. And don’t want to keep trying. I don’t want to be ‘everybody but myself’ and I will keep up the fight until the end for me.
I’m me. Just floating on grace and sinking down into a caffeinated heap of mess. Gritty and raw, glorious me. Just me. Making an honest effort at authenticity and wholehearted living, clearing out those margins one tiny step at a time.
I can’t do it all, and I don’t wanna even try.
And this revelation? This allows me to exhale that tension, it flows right out, and I’m filled with the strange tingling of hope.
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