Pulling Myself out of the Rapids

How are you?

“Fine.” “Great.” “Busy. So busy.” Sound familiar?

‘Tis the standard reply of Busy Moms everywhere. Our kids are highly enriched, our homes clean(ish), and we’ve said yes to yet another volunteer commitment.

But, what I really want to know is: How ARE You, Mama? I mean – look-me-square-in-the-eyes-I-really-see-you-how-are-you?  Fulfilled? Content? At ease?

If you dig down for an honest answer, your eyes may fill with tears, admitting to a poignant, overwhelmed NO. No, I am stressed out, exhausted and have no time for myself. No, the balance is off. The pace feels too frantic and a little out of control.

If you answer yes, continued blessings, it seems you may have found a Balanced Motherhood equation that is working for you. Keep it up. Unfortunately, you are in the minority.

So, for the rest of us: The one message I really want to get across to Busy Moms is this: Stop. Just stop. Take a few deep breaths. That’s it.

We need to stop so we can breathe. We need to stop so we can take stock of what is here to be savored, so we can assess where we are headed, at what speed and at what cost. Without stopping, we barrel ahead either completely unaware or with a vague knowing but stronger desire to deny.

I say this as much to you as I do as a reminder to myself. We all get caught up in busyness that feels, in the moment, important and urgent, at times losing sight of what matters most in our lives. I am no exception.

Within the past year or so I have reconnected with a love of writing that lay dormant for many years. I’ve begun blogging and running workshops, sharing what I love to learn and practice:teaching busy moms simple ways to live better and stress less. With wanting to reach as many moms as possible comes the need for social media, which until recently, was a completely foreign world to me. So, I hired a smart businesswoman with so much social media knowledge my mind reeled after each two hour meeting.

She advised me to post to Facebook twice a day. I did. Told me I needed to tweet. I did. Pinterest. Instagram. Reddit. LinkedIn. I did it. I did it. I did it. I tweeted while I snuggled with my toddler in the morning, checked Facebook numerous times daily, and thought all the time about what I could retweet, pin, and share.My life felt out of control, overwhelmed, and time-deprived.

I began to feel uneasy, vaguely aware that I could not and did not want to keep up the frenetic pace. One morning I awoke from a vivid dream in which I was a passenger in the car of my social media coach. We were cruising along when we found ourselves driving straight into a deep, wide river. I said, “Um, Kate, I don’t think we should be driving in the river.” “Oh, it’s fine,” she reassured me nonchalantly. We were soon submerged, being carried rapidly downstream, and headed for large protruding boulders.

Shaking myself awake, it was clear I was not fine.

Stop, Shonda. Just stop.

So I did. I pulled myself out of the rapids. I took a few days when I did not tweet, pin or post. The rule-follower in me felt like I was breaking some if I didn’t cover my social media bases daily. I had clearly gotten off course in my life, with how I wanted to live each day.

I have since reassessed what is workable for me, which means letting go and saying no to some great ideas and practices. The cost was simply too high for me. Admitting I can only do so much felt like a flood of relief, like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders – lightness, deeper breaths, an overall sense of ease. So. Much. Better.

There is no one-size-fits-all with this Balanced Motherhood thing. What feels off-balance to one mom may be a perfect fit for another. What we all have in common, however, is the vital need tostop, just stop, on a regular basis. A few seconds of stillness may not sound life-altering, but it often is, providing just enough time to reconnect with what is most important, noticing if we have gotten swept up by the busyness current.

This is what I want for you, dear Mama. Ease. Peace. Time to savor. To live and enjoy your life at a pace that is sustainableStop, just stop.