Something crazy happened last week when the whole family came down with the flu: I cut myself a break. Yes, women and overachievers, I did that. I let some shit slide. I did some things with only 75% effort and other things went completely undone (gasp. Undone?! You don’t say? I do say.). I know it sounds crazy to not do it all – but I’ll tell you what – cutting yourself a break can be motherfucking glorious and just the thing you need to reset your whole overdrawn system. And bonus… the sky didn’t fall on me, Chicken Littles.
If I’m honest, which I’m being right now, and which many of you could probably afford to be with yourselves – I’ve been overwhelmed for a while. I could give you a detailed rundown but let’s give you the quick itemized list of the big things:
- Left the first home we had known as a family.
- He-Babe had surgery. (Side note: his asthma made it more complicated.)
- Packed our life into 14 suitcases and moved to another country.
- Set up a new home.
- Had to make tough decisions for both kids and their grade level.
- Support the kids in their adjustment to a new school and new friends.
All the while, running our household and two businesses (and let’s not forget about all the little things). And, admit it, you have a list like this too – we all do. It just has your big ticket items instead. And like many of us do when we are overwhelmed, I just kept taking on more.
But last week the flu came knocking on our door like the ghosts of Christmas past and there was nothing we could do to avoid it. If I wanted to keep my head above water something had to give.
He-Babe was the first to get visited and since I had never seen either kid that sick before, I was all hands on deck. If he wanted toast with butter, I’d make it – churn it if I had to. When he decided he no longer wanted toast with butter but instead wanted soup, I’d make soup. And because he felt so miserable, inevitably, I’d have to feed him that soup too. He was a 24/7 job and even when he was watching TV, he’d want to cuddle.
I knew a lot of things would have to be placed on the back burner and by the time Husband and She-Babe were visited by the flu, I knew even the back burner wasn’t realistic. See, I’ve tried before to make soup, wash the dishes, pick up toys, and work at the same time. And you know what the outcome was? I burnt the soup, overflowed the sink, stepped on a marble, yelled at the kids, and sent the right message to the wrong person. And that is a true story, folks. Trying to do it all usually leads to doing nothing well and their health was too important to do half-assed. So I decided to forget the back burner and not even put things on the stove.
I let it all go, including the guilt of letting it all go. I would be present and available here and now — and that’s it. I’m blessed to have a business that I could work in small pockets of my day so if I had a few minutes for work – great. If not, that was completely fine too.
I did what I could. Do you hear me, Overachievers? I did what I could. I didn’t squeeze “extra” in. I didn’t bite off more than I could chew. Heck, forget chewing if that was going to be too much work. I didn’t schedule anything. I planned for nothing. And nothing fell apart. Actually, I came out the other end with a clearer focus of the things that are most important for my family, my businesses, and myself. And you can too. You don’t even need to catch the flu to do it.
We get stuck in ruts sometimes. We think that the way we’ve been going is the way we have to continue to go; when in fact, stopping and reassessing is an important part of the journey. Take a break, kick the tires, wash the windshield, and fill up the gas tank. And then step back and make sure your arrow is still pointed in the right direction. The sky never fell from slowing down.