I Don’t Know How You Do It

“I don’t know how you do it.”

What a loaded statement. What does it mean when you hear it a couple of times a week? (More, if you actually leave the house.)

The schedule of a working mom is packed. Baby chore servant, house manager, career connoisseur, friend, daughter, granddaughter… it is a lot. There are days when I wonder, “How do I do it?”

It depends on the day and the level of support I have. There are (many) days when my uninspired bun means my husband is probably working offshore, and the days’ chores trumped my desire to have clean hair. If I look lost in my phone despite multiple children crawling on top of me, it means I’m confirming my clients’ appointments. If I am wearing makeup and participating in an adult conversation, childcare happened.

I enjoy what I do. I enjoy seeing clients, consulting with other counselors, and dreaming up ideas for presentations and publications. It’s engaging, stimulating, fulfilling…

And exhausting. When a work day has been too taxing, you have to dig deep for the dreaded 6-7 PM block when dinner, baths, jammies, and bedtime need to get knocked out. On nights when it’s extra painful, it means the schedule was too packed.

My non-mom motivation ebbs and flows. Occasionally I think, “I could take on that project, or that would be an interesting opportunity to pursue.” On other days, I think, “Maybe if I retire, I’ll be able to adequately decipher my daughter’s school emails.” Pouring through the Mom’s Guide to Fall does require executive functioning… and running a business really detracts from my ability to gracefully mastermind the wants, needs, and requirements of five people. However, without an income, how are we going to pay for childcare (i.e., my break)?

Thus, the constant quest for balance. I personally don’t think a perfect balance will ever exist. It’s too comprehensive of a question. For me, it is more of a day-to-day situation.

Time of year factors in as well. I have recently been humbled by the weekend that is the annual school fair. Fun fact: face painting for four hours is manual labor when there is a consistent forty-five-minute line of waiting kids. But as with most mom milestones, until you live it, you don’t know. But in hindsight, you know it all. Motherhood is an earned education.

Granted, I can’t do it all. There’s always going to be something (or a lot of things) that don’t make the cut. Long ago, I retired from handwritten thank-you notes. What I would have to do to keep my house perfectly pristine- I am not willing to do. Dinner will never be gourmet. It’s likely we will never have three sippy cups when out and about, despite having three toddlers. After all, sharing is a social skill and cuts down on the time it takes to exit the house.

So how do moms do it? You just do. Until you can’t, or you decide you would rather do anything else than what you have been doing. And in the moments when you nail it, you pray someone got a good picture. But that proof is getting framed.

Melissa Fleming lives in Prairieville, Louisiana with her husband, Blake, and their three beautiful daughters: Evelyn (4), Clara (2), and Chloe (1). She graduated from LA Tech with a B.A. in journalism and then earned her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in counselor education from UNO. She is the owner of MWF Counseling, LLC. In between seeing clients, chasing toddlers, and holding babies, she enjoys watching Real Housewives and drinking as much caffeinated tea as possible.

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