This week has been FULL. It’s a week that, in my past life… post-kids and pre-cancer… would have left me frazzled. It’s a week where I would have used the word B U S Y a lot. But I’ve stopped using the word busy (which is a story for another post).
This week has been full. Time with friends. Time with the boys. Life during the day that require a little “fruit basket upset” of my pseudo-regularly-scheduled-program. Life that has me scheduling my normal tasks (dishes. Laundry. Vacuuming. Cooking. Laundry.) wherever they can fit.
And then. Last night, as I was living in the fullness, I felt it coming on. It started in the back of my head. Throbbing. Pounding. And by the time I arrived home, I knew it… a migraine.
But I had things to do. All those things that are eternally on a mother’s task list. I needed to take care of them.
But I also needed to take care of myself.
I knew I would be having people into my home today. So I needed to do some picking up and cleaning (let’s be honest, if there was a whole house washing machine similar to a car wash, that’s really what I needed). But I also knew that I wanted to be present this morning. Well-rested. I wanted to enjoy my friends.
So I decided to say, I can’t do it all right now to myself… to my task list. I decided to say no to the house and yes to me.
And I went to bed. The headache wasn’t going to go away without rest. And the cleaning would have unnerved me at that point of my day.
I walked down the stairs this morning. Headache gone. New day here. And I heard the vacuum.
He was vacuuming.
I snapped a photo as he got the last of the steps sucked right up. I hugged him tight.
“I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to finish picking up the basement.” (I mean… I should have jumped his bones right then and there. But a hug was the next best thing, right?)
Before I got sick, I would have tried to do it all. Before I went through treatment, I’d have felt guilty if I couldn’t. Now I am so thankful I know I just can’t. I am so thankful that he knows I can’t. He picks up where I leave off, without me even asking for “help.” Because we both know the secret that is this: no one can do it all. Not every week of every day of every minute of life. No one can always do it all.
And the reason I can’t do it all? It has nothing to do with medicine or cancer or motherhood. It has to do with being human. And yet we all are trying to balance it all. We all are trying to knock ourselves out to have pristine homes, perfectly content children, picturesque meals, the neighbor’s lawn, the girl down the block’s fashion sense, your friend’s bank account. But seriously. We are not each made to be able to do it all. So we have to decide what our all looks like. And aim for that.
So this morning, fresh off a night of sleeping off a headache, I made a decision. Instead of trying to get anything else cleaned at the last minute (seriously. Who even cares about the handprints on my windows?), we sat on the deck at 6:30 this morning and shared time and coffee.
I couldn’t do it all this week. There was a tipping point where I knew that the list would have to remain undone. So when people showed up, I closed my bedroom door that hid laundry to-be hung. I had someone else stop on the way and grab the coffee creamer I’d forgotten to snag at the store. I left the handprints on the windows (they add character, right?). Because next week, or maybe even tomorrow, I can get to that list that will inevitably be there.
I can’t do it all. So I just don’t anymore. And at the end of the FULLEST of days, instead of running on empty, I feel oh so full. And alive. Tired, at times. But full. And alive.