Recently, I walked past a mom that I know in passing and casually asked her how she was doing. She surprised me. Usually she gives a chipper answer, life is good, great, couldn’t be better, basically has the face on. Today was different. Today she told me she was tired and she wasn’t doing very well. And what continued was a fairly in-depth conversation. She told me she needed a vacation. She said, “I need a vacation from my 3 kids, from all the sports, parties, etc. I’m just tired. My husband is traveling, and dealing with all the kids activities has gotten to me. I’m ready for it to be done”. She then continued to say, she hadn’t left her kids overnight in years, maybe twice ever. She told me that she wanted five minutes to herself where she didn’t have to be a mom, where she could just be herself. She was tired, she was bored and she didn’t like her life very much.
It was a lot to dump on a casual acquaintance, but I was up for the challenge. I asked her what did she like to do? What gave her joy and made her laugh. She stared at me for a couple seconds and answered, ‘that’s the problem, I just don’t know anymore”. And I wanted to cry for her. This wonderful, amazing person had become a mom – a mom that gave so sacrificially that she didn’t have ANYTHING left for herself.
On the surface this mom and I are very different. She is on the roller coaster of life- she has three children that appear to be perfect. They excel in sports, academics and have a lot of friends. Whereas my three children have various levels of academic and social issues. Instead of spending time learning how to play the piano or another musical instrument, my kids spend their extra time being tutored and going to doctor’s appointments. Many of the dreams I had pre-kids – the dreams to be a family that sailed, skied, and traveled have not been realized. Each year I think, maybe this year some of the expensive therapies will take and we won’t have to spend all of our money on therapy and home repairs. Maybe this year….
What this conversation did, was help me to realize that even though this women has three seemingly perfect kids, we are not that different. Her kids drive (and possibly hers as well) have compelled them to fill their nights and weekends with soccer games, practice, parties, sleep-overs, all in the quest to have the perfect child that will succeed in life. While our days are spent with homework. Homework that takes her kids 30 minutes will take my kids up to 2 hours. We’ve consciously made the decision that our kids will be in one sport at a time. We feel that our kids and our family needs some down time, some margin.
Stay tuned for The Faces We Wear -Part Two for some takeaways for ALL families.