This is a paraphrased anecdote that was recently told to me by another woman. The woman is a stay-at-home mom of two boys, 4 and 8; her husband (and the boys’ father) works full-time. She grows most of her own food, and pretty much cooks everything from scratch.
“My older son has a friend he likes to have playdates with. So I make arrangements for the two boys to get together now and again. The other boy’s mother works 40 hours outside the home, and is married to a man who works full-time too. Whenever I go over to her house, I feel stunningly inadequate. Her house is so neat and organized. Plus, it’s really well designed, like something you would see in a magazine. I always feel like such a slob when she’s dropping her son off at our house.
“One day, I was dropping Dave* off, and the woman said to me, ‘Meghan*, can you come in for a little bit? I was hoping we could talk.’
“So I go in and sit down, and she makes us some tea, and then she sits down and says, ‘I want to know how you’re so relaxed all the time. You just seem so calm. I don’t know how you do it.’
“I didn’t know what to say! Finally, I just said, ‘Really, I don’t do much.’ And it came out that she’s on medication for anxiety, and has some IBS issues, and I’m just sitting there like, ‘Well, I totally get the anxiety thing, but what are you going to do?'”
This is not a SAHM v. a WOHM thing; this isn’t even an observation about the grass being greener.
This is a commentary. What your life looks like from the inside is not what your life looks like.
Know what I mean?
And I know that this is how I use this information: First of all, to not judge others from what I can see. Not their marriages or other significant relationships, not their parenting, not their occupations, vocations, or avocations. Second of all, to let others’ judgement roll off me. Yes, my 5yo is having a hard time containing herself at this moment and in this space (and my 7-year-old is probably obliviously reading a candy package, and my 18-month-old son probably has dirt on his face), but my kids are loved and they are good kids. What you can see of my life isn’t wholly my life.
Although, trust me, sometimes I don’t know how I do it, either.
How do you do it?
*Names have been changed.