by Jenny Morris, M.S.Ed. | October 16, 2017
The other day Facebook graced me with an “On This Day” post from 2015, featuring my darling children: Zoey and Jacob, then eight and seven. See if this sounds familiar.
I've been up since 4am, got kids ready and off to school, worked an all-day career fair, raced to get kids from aftercare, fed them a nutritious Happy Meal, and headed to Zoey's soccer practice to spend the hour toggling between Jacob's homework and grading reflection papers.
Jacob kindly informed me 33 times that he was positively dying of thirst, and each time I reminded him (with increasing patience and understanding) that I had nothing to offer him. Finally, I suggested he ask Zoey for a drink of hers during a water break.
I watched him race across the soccer field, excitedly focused on his desperate thirst - about to be quenched.
Conversation as I imagined it:
Jacob: "Zoey, may I please have a small drink of your water?"
Zoey: "Of course. Take as much as you'd like."
Jacob: "I love you, Zoey."
Zoey: "I love you more, Jacob."
Me: (Beaming for all the other soccer parents to see.) "Yes. They're mine."
Reality from across the field:
Jacob whispers something to Zoey.
Zoey dramatically shakes her head no.
Jacob reaches for the bottle.
Zoey pulls away and cradles the bottle under her doubled over body.
Jacob latches onto the bottle.
Zoey smacks his broken arm, turns her head, and tries to quickly guzzle the bottle's contents.
The coach calls Zoey for the third time to join her team on the field.
Zoey reluctantly leaves the bottle behind—within reach of her enemy.
Her nemesis smiles victoriously.
He then proceeds to drain every last drop while his sister looks on. Fuming.
Me: "Nope. I've never seen those kids in my life."
Cherubs, those two.
I remember this time well. I was working full-time, going to school part-time, managing most of the household, sleeping an average of four hours a night, and feeling guilty that my husband and kids always got ‘what’s left’ of me—which wasn’t much.
I wanted to be all things to all people, and God knows I tried. And I bet I’m not alone. I wager that many of the people reading this post—even if not parents—can relate to the frustration of having more to do than there are hours in the day. While I haven’t found a way to pause time (an ability about which I often daydream), I did learn a few lessons along the way.
1) Empower your partner.
Before graduate school, I tended to carry the vast majority of the family and household responsibilities myself. I think it was a combination of pride, independence, and perfectionism that accounted for this behavior, but whatever it was, it wasn’t healthy. During grad school, however, I was finally forced to step back. And guess what I learned? My husband is actually a pretty darn good cook! He stepped up in virtually every area around the house and with our kids, and we have become much stronger partners because of it.
Side note: If you are a single parent (first of all, I applaud you—you superhero, you), exchange “partner” with “support system.” Basically, know that you can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to do so.
2) Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is good enough.
Still a perfectionist at heart, this one is hard for me. I want to turn in exceptional work to my professors. I want my colleagues to consider me a valuable member of the team. I want my house to look like a model home. I want my kids and husband to know that they are the most important people in my life.
You should want to do well in these areas, but you also need to cut yourself a little slack. When I was feeling overwhelmed, I’d ask myself, “In a year, will [insert whatever I was worried about] really matter?” Your professors, employers, and family all have expectations of you—as they should. But don’t lose sight of what matters most in your life.
3) You’ve got an audience.
You’re setting a good example for your kids. Even if you don’t think they’re watching—they’re watching. Don’t believe me? Try going to the bathroom and see how long it takes before fingers appear under the door. They see your dedication, and even without saying a word, you’re demonstrating to them how valuable it is to work hard and to go after your dreams. Case in point, my sister snapped this picture as I walked across the stage at my graduation, and it will forever be one of my favorites. Check out their little hands—blurry with applause. It was a big day for all of us.
4) Prayer helps.
If you are a person of faith, take a moment to pause and ask for help. I have a reminder on my nightstand that reads, “Good morning. This is God. I’ll be handling all of your problems today.” When we think we’re alone—we’re not. And when we feel like no one understands our situation—He does. Ask for help, and trust that He is listening.
5) You are a rock star!
Do you ever wish someone would just take a moment to recognize you for all that you’re doing? Well, here you go. You. Are. Awesome. Everything you are doing will pay off, and there are resources to help you along the way. Feeling overwhelmed? You may want to speak with someone in our Counseling and Consultation Services office. Confused by the material you’re studying in your class? Consider getting a (free) Peer Tutor or utilizing our on-campus Writing Center. Not sure what you want to be ‘when you grow up’? Schedule an appointment with our Exchange career development office.
Hey, even rock stars need some backup from time to time.
Jenny Morris is the Director of Career Development for The Exchange—Marian University’s career office dedicated to promoting experience that matters. The Exchange works with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and employers to prepare students for experiential learning; to assist students and faculty in locating such engagements; and to teach students how to market themselves for future opportunities. For more information or to connect with The Exchange, visit www.marian.edu/exchange or contact the office at 317.955.6500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.