If you saw me in the airport you might think that I had my life all together.
You might assume that I go home to an immaculate home and drive a great car and have a couple of kids and a happy marriage and that I speak to many and that I’m awesome at time management (this is my worst) and that I just don’t really have a worry in the world.
I could write or share pictures or create this illusion of my life for you all to read. It could be full of beautiful things and fabulous meals and workout selfies and kids with the latest clothes and crazy trips and motherhood projects and all of that. And I have those pictures – I have the joy moments in life and I share them and I think you all should too because we all need to celebrate the happy in our lives. Don’t ever forget to share the beauty.
But my life is also an exercise in exhaustion mixed with a deep quest for joy and meaning, really. It’s in deciding what to let go of at the moment and hoping to chose the right thing to say no to and the better thing to say yes to and a whole bunch of time trying to keep everything in balance and yet still knowing that I am probably messing up in some way and dropping the ball and that inevitably there will be something I forget, didn’t get too, or left out.
It’s never ever intentional, honestly. I don’t ever intentionally wake in the morning and think that I’m going to let one of those plates of expectation drop or that I’m going to stumble or let people down or any of that. I wake most of the times tired and wondering and hoping that there is a k-cup left to brew in my Keurig because the coffee I put in the holders is just not as strong as that and then hoping that there is some creamer left and then that I have enough stuff to pack for lunch and then counting the minutes until when I need to wake the boys and am faced with the frenzy of before we leave for school and get in a car that sat in 5 degree temps all night and remembering that I forgot to switch the wash and that we lost another new set of mittens and on and on and on.
Sometimes I would love afternoons sitting in the coffee shop and leisurely vacations and mornings where everything goes smoothly and I have just a bit of rest. Do you all remember rest? I seem to have forgotten what it feels like to have had sleep.
But I digress – I’m not really writing this as a lament about all the tough stuff in my life. Because I could tell it all to you – the single parenting, the seventy hours of work, the never ending chores, and on and on and on. And I could tell you about how this is a harvest time in my life and on and on… But it’s not about me or the hard stuff or the awesome stuff and all of that.
This is about you and the mom next door and me and all of our spinning plates.
Us as women.
Because I know that there are some of you right now with plates that are spinning much too fast and you can’t keep them all going and some are dropping and you are being much much much to hard on yourself. I know because I am brutally hard on myself. I’ll go in my room and think that I just don’t measure up and that I can’t do this and yet, honestly, there is no other option. I either pull up my boot straps and press on forward or I just throw my hands in the air and quit.
And moms, well, we really don’t quit.
But we don’t give ourselves grace to let a plate fall either.
I know that I’ve made mistakes. I know I’ve chosen option b over option c over option d and in the moment I thought I was doing the best I could but I just really messed up. And then I get so super mad at me and the litany of words begins – what is wrong with you? How come you can’t keep it together? Why do you keep messing up?
We live in a world where the expectations – the plates spinning – goes beyond what most of us really can do. And sometimes instead of just saying enough we just keep hoping and spinning and racing and the next thing we know we find ourselves sitting across from our seventeen year old daughter with tears in our eyes and telling her I’m so sorry if I’ve let you down when you’re out to eat celebrating her birthday with her six days late.
Because honestly, who wants to let anyone down?
And yet, sometimes that’s just how it ends up feeling. Because we’re told from this source and that source and facebook and pinterest and instagram and the media and magazines and tumblr and vine and so on and on and on and on that they only way to be successful is to keep the plates spinning with a smile on your face and botox injected in your forehead and size four jeans and hair that is lush and with the perfect curls at the ends and kids that don’t have stained shirts and rooms that stay clean and organic meals are served and we have that hour to work out but we also know what happened on Modern Family and there are no wrappers in our cars and we just have to be more and more and more.
What happens if the plates all crash?
Are we less of a mother? A woman? A friend? A wife? A sister? A partner?
Or are we just, in that moment, trying to take a breath, and instead of being told what is wrong with you you’ve dropped your spinning plates? we are instead met with compassion and empathy and love. And maybe, maybe it needs to not even be from someone else but ourselves.
It’s that grace for us to recognize that we’re only human.
You are only human.
You fall down. You have emotion. You are real. You make mistakes. You do great things. You stumble. You love motherhood. You don’t like motherhood. Your kids are awesome. Your kids throw tantrums at the grocery store. You laugh. You cry. You say I am sorry. You fight for your heart. You love your kids. You kiss their heads at night. You miss the ones that have grown. You worry. You wonder. You hope you’re making the best choices. You want to quit. You don’t give up. You are awesome. You are tired.
You are wonderful.
That is the intricate puzzle of human life and beauty and motherhood smashed around on the floor in a million pieces – like those plates. The amazing thing is even if some fell or you stumbled or you made mistakes or you just felt like you weren’t enough that in the end all of those plate pieces – the shards, the smooth ones, the ugly ones, the beautiful ones, the jewels, the ones you hate, the crumbs – they’d all come together to create your story.
Maybe you’ll look back and wish you had done that part differently.
Because part of being human, and being a mom, and a woman, is knowing that even when you mess up royally that you always have the next moment. The next breath. That inhale that you just took right now isn’t defined by the inhale you took yesterday when you cried behind the bathroom door in overwhelm.
By the time you finished reading this you have a new moment to start again.
A clean slate.
The plates may be spinning, the Keurig without K-cups, and you out of breath. But you have a choice in this moment – a choice to see you and love you and love the woman standing next to you with her million and five spinning plates as well. And if one crashes between you we can remember that it doesn’t define us, but rather defines who we become.
We become stronger when we learn that there is grace in being human.
Dear mom reading these words I typed in my home on a night when every one of my plates seemed to crash to the floor in a million pieces let me tell you this – you are not alone.
With love. And respect. And awe for all you do.
The Plate Spinner
You wrote this for me today. I say thank you with tears running down my cheeks. I am one of those with too many plates and I have been dropping them lately. I am so exhausted, even sick right now, which only makes me have to work harder at the spinning. Thank you for encouraging me and letting me know that I am not alone. Meghan
Thank you for your words of encouragement! After losing my job recently, I feel like all my plates are spinning out of control, and I am failing my 4 children (ages 12, 9, 5 and 15 months ). Being a divorced single mom, it seems like I struggled for everything, but your words give me hope and inspiration. Thank you.
I just love you . And your blog posts. I love the way you write. With you words, you know how to recreate the intensity and panic that I feel in my heart. And then you tell me to breathe and that it’s going to be ok and that I’M OKAY and totally enough and I just really need to hear that. Thank you so much for pouring your heart and soul into your blog posts.
As mothers we all have moments when we are put together, and those when we aren’t. I just think staying positive during those times is what helps me not come crashing down myself when everything else around me has.