You should stop whatever you’re doing right now and go read this amazing piece called “What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About Having It All.” I really love what she has to say about how realizing that we have “enough” is the greater key to happiness than “having it all.”
This is kind of a tangent, but one thing that really struck me about the post besides the much-needed reminder that I do in fact have more than “enough,” is the author’s annoyance at everyone constantly telling her they “don’t know how [she] does it” with the “it” being get through her life with a severely disabled son. I don’t share her challenges, but I also get this a lot. People tell me they don’t know how I do it, with the “it” being twins, or a daughter with spina bifida, or my own near death experience and health issues. She writes, “Other friends declare, ‘I couldn’t do what you do.’ If I am to conform to their expectations, I’m not sure what I am supposed to do.” I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing, or what people think I really am doing, either.
How do I “do it?” Well, for starters, I don’t always “do it” well or with any amount of grace. I get frustrated, and angry, and overwhelmed. We “do it” because we have no choice, because we love our kids, because we want to survive, because we have a lot of help, because I have a great partner, because there is no other option, because there’s a lot of beauty in it, because it could be much worse, because, because, because…
I guess the bottom line is, for every person who says something like “I don’t know how you do it” to someone, there is that someone thinking, “Well, what other option is there?” A lot of the time, it feels like a nice way to say, “I’m so glad your life isn’t mine.”
We all have challenges. We get through them. We all have our blessings, and we need to be grateful for them. I’m thankful to Marie Myung-Ok Lee for reminding me to do just that. Particularly as I write this after a challenging day that led to me having to set down my screaming baby to go take a breather in my bedroom. And I am thankful that in that moment, I had a husband to take over, to transfer her to her bed when she almost immediately fell asleep, and to clean up the kitchen and give me a hug when I returned from yoga breathing and listening to the sound of our ceiling fan.
4 Replies to “I don’t know how you do it”
I really admire you. From the outside looking in, you have a lot of grace ;)
Agreed: “I don’t know how you do it” is Southern-polite for “better you than me.”
Sometimes “I don’t know how you do it” means “momma, you’re doing a good job.”. I can be difficult to know how to give a sincere compliment from a place of inexperience. So, I don’t presume to know what your days of mommyhood are like, but here’s me saying, “momma… You’re doing a good job.”
Thanks for the awareness raising. I’ve been guilty of saying it to friends who are mothers. (I’m not a mom) I admire them and deeply respect their commitment. So from now on that is what I will say!
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