There is a radio station I absolutely hate listening to in the mornings, especially Friday mornings. Every Friday they pick a caller, always a mom, and rate her stress level. It pisses me off. One, that the radio station rewards women for being too busy and two, that women call in by the droves hoping to be picked for that week.
I get that people are stressed. And there is real stress in lives. Demanding jobs, young kids, aging parents, illnesses, financial problems, and the list goes on. Life can be craptastic a lot of days. That’s when you call up a girlfriend, grab your favorite drink, and complain.
But a lot of people choose the stress. They sign their kids up for everything, they say yes to every committee, every meeting, and they overfill their schedule with parties, playdates, and outings. And they say, “I wish I could say no.” Like someone was forcing them to say yes. And they can’t call up a friend to complain, because no one has time.
Does anyone relax anymore?
I stopped telling other moms I read books. After the gazillionth time answering their angry stare with, “I read when the kids are playing.” I learned to keep my trap shut. When another mom complains that all she feels like is a taxi driver, I no longer ask, “So why do you sign your kids up for all the activities? And I really keep it quiet that my husband once a year gets me a hotel room, so I can indulge in some bad books, play Agricola by myself (even by myself I lose), and sleep in.
I feel guilty when people are flabbergasted that I am writing a book and training for a marathon, all while raising three kids. They think I have some secret amulet like Hermione that allows me to be in five places at once. The truth is ask me to do something, and chances are I will say no. I say no to a lot of things and my husband is pretty useful around the house. I NEVER SAY to the open mouthed stares that it isn’t that hard. Because I’m pretty sure I would be shot on sight.
If I hadn’t had a huge cancer wake up call at age 28, I would probably be in line with these other moms, verbally elbowing my way to the stress o meter on the radio. I signed Rebecca up for what I could, said yes to everything, all while working. Because that’s what you do. I didn’t know there was another way until the world got knocked out from underneath me.
It is hard when I see other moms struggling. Trying to keep the family boat afloat when the tidal wave of life hits then. There are only 24 hours a day and we can’t do everything. But there are some women who think they can, they should, and its expected of them.
And I wish I could show them a different way.
Keeping the stress out of my life, isn’t just for me. It isn’t a selfish act. It’s for my kids and husband as well. The kids learn to manage their own time, instead of letting the next thing dictate what they do. They have time to be a responsible member of the family, as well as have fun. Not being scheduled every single minute, of every single day provides margin in life that is important for all of our continuing development.
It gives us space to create. Space to renew. Space to think.
And my husband? We can take a date night once a week and spend time together sans kids. Hands down, that is the thing that has saved our marriage. Because before we created the space for that? It wasn’t good.
I want to call up the radio station and demand that they stop acting like stress is a badge of honor. Life provides its own unavoidable potholes, and we don’t need to dig them ourselves. If I could tell new moms one thing, (I know, I always say this is what I would tell new moms) But really. If I could tell new moms one thing, it is that they don’t need to hop on the crazy train. Its okay to not be stressed. Its okay to have space in your life. Its okay to not want to be in the driver’s seat of your kids lives.
I want less stress in everyone’s life. If I could bottle up what I learned those 18 months when I was sick, I would It gave me a clarity I don’t think I would have learned until it was much too late. When the kids were grown up, stressed out adults themselves.
I think this is an appropriate place for this song.
If you are one of those moms (or dads!) who find yourself not able to breathe because of the stress, I challenge you to say no to one thing this weekend. And use that space to do something completely indulgent. Like read a book. Lay on the couch like a lump. Watch your kids play while you sit in the background. Make Girl scout cookie s’mores.
Open up your life to a much needed Sabbath. Even the creator needed a day off.
What’s one thing you can say no to, that would give you a little more margin in life and less stress?