Dear Mom Friend,
I shared this over on my blog recently and while it may sound a little harsh, I thought you might appreciate the perspective of another busy mom...one who is always learning from her own mistakes...
I say this with love…and a complete, empathetic understanding of your overscheduled life… but you’ve got to stop blaming your decisions on your busy calendar.
If you can’t get together for coffee, tell me you have other plans.
If you can’t manage to deliver something you’ve promised a hundred times, admit that you’re a disorganized mess and ask me to extend some grace.
If you are chronically late to pick up your child tell me there’s a conflict in your schedule or that you haven’t quite figured out how long it takes you to get out the door with a new baby. I would understand that. I could relate to that.
But please – for the love of all things sacred to moms on this earth – don’t tell me how “busy” you are. Don’t list all the things you have on your plate, apologize half-heartedly, and expect me to cut you a break. Not because I don’t care or because I don’t believe you. And not because I think I'm busier than you are. Trust me, the last thing I want to see is women competing for the title of Most Busiest Mom – because being busy is not a good thing in my book. It’s not something I brag about or something that I’m proud of. It’s something I battle on a regular basis.
When you tell me you’re too busy, you’re saying my request (or your commitment) is not important. And that’s ok – as long as you’re honest about it and tell me that up front. Don’t let me wait around for you – expecting you to deliver on a promise. Don’t let me count on you, only to be disappointed. Don’t beg me to make exceptions and jump through hoops to accommodate your busy world, as if the rest of us don’t live there with you.
Let’s face it – moms are busy people. And we tend to take on more than we should. We’re all in this mess together. We created it ourselves. And we tell ourselves it’s only here for a season…so we will muddle through…because someday we’ll miss it. I get that. And I agree we should embrace the chaos of our responsibility-filled lives and enjoy the blessings of motherhood and all that this season brings. But we can do that with honesty and grace and kindness. Without blaming others, letting people down and expecting sympathy or special treatment. And perhaps more importantly – without feeling like we’ve failed.
When we use our busy schedules as an apology or an excuse, we’re implying there is a failure taking place. That we’ve somehow messed up or that we’re just not cut out for this job. Be assured – that is not the case! We are wonderfully made by our Creator and we are perfectly equipped to do the job.
But when we blame our busyness for everything, we’re missing out on the opportunity to take ownership for our decisions and to stand firmly for what we believe are the right choices for ourselves and our families.
I’ve been in your shoes before – more times than I care to admit. I’ve been that mom who rushes into church precisely five minutes late each week. I’ve been the mom who scrambles to complete paperwork and deliver payments to school or soccer at the very last minute. And I’ve completely forgotten performance dates and registration deadlines, thanks to my chaotic, over-busy schedule. (And I’ll do those things again!)
But I’ve learned to be brutally honest about my threshold for overwhelm. And I’ve developed solutions that may be unconventional and to establish expectations upfront. I remember telling the 2nd grade teacher that my son’s daily agenda would be signed by his 5th grade sister. I explained that she was far more qualified than I am for the job and that she was actually interested in doing it, so she would be more likely to stay on top of it. I thought that was a win-win situation. (I’m not sure the teacher was a fan at first, but I think we eventually earned her approval – and at least she knew what to expect from us.)
I used to have lunch with a friend every couple of weeks. When there was a shift in my work schedule and my kids started to become more active, I found myself canceling on her for lunch all the time. I told her I was sorry but that I was “just so busy.” Well, of course she was busy, too. And she didn’t know about my schedule change – she only knew that I was no longer available to her. And our friendship suffered. Eventually we had a difficult conversation in which she pulled the truth out of me – and later thanked me for being honest. Now we have lunch every once in a while – and in a few short years, we’ll be back to our old routine, I’m sure.
The point is that nobody wants to hear how busy we are. They really just need to know if they can rely on us or not.
So the next time I ask you to do something – please just tell me the truth. Don't tell me you’re too busy – just tell me if I can count on you. And if I can’t count on you – for this one thing – then that’s ok. If you make a conscious decision to choose something else instead, I will respect that. If you have something weighing on your heart, maybe I can help. If you’re simply a disorganized mess, I can relate. I won’t love you any less. In fact, I’ll appreciate your wide-open heart. And you will get the opportunity to stand firm in the decisions you make for yourself and your family. Without blaming your schedule or feeling like a failure.
Copyright 2014, Theresa Ceniccola