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The Myth of Having it All

December 1, AD2015

Pixabay-FamilyMeal

The holidays always remind me of how different I am from my husband. He is a doer. He does things. He wakes up every morning and goes through the same routine to get ready, then he figures out his mission for the day and sets out to accomplish that mission. Every. Day.

Me? I am a sloth. I never have a plan for anything, unless that plan will help me get in my pajamas and in bed early, then I have a plan. I do not need anyone to tell me to take a day off or to relax, because I am always looking for a way to crawl back into bed with a book. Relaxing is more than just something that I do, it is a state of being for me.

What do holidays have to do with this? Well, it goes back to the differences between myself and my husband. Most people look forward to holidays because they can sleep in, rather than go to work. But not my husband, who cannot stand waking up without a mission. It drives him crazy. He walks around in circles, makes coffee, smokes some cigarettes, sighs heavily, lays back down, tosses and turns, gets comfortable, and then gets back up and drinks coffee. When he is a man with no mission, he is restless. Meanwhile, the lazy person in this marriage cannot go back to sleep while all the restlessness is happening. The more restless he gets, the more mad I get until I finally give up and give the man a mission, so he will make a plan to accomplish it. Meanwhile, I will be sleepy until naptime, which will happen because turkey plus wine equals naptime.

But this year I am thankful for a husband who is a doer and not a sloth like me. He has taught me to do things, and encourages me to do them. He lets me dream, and then he teaches me how to accomplish; even when I am tired, even when I have no more to give, even when I would rather drink wine and take a nap. Before he was in my life, I drank and napped excessively. I hated life and I saw my children as burdens. I thought of motherhood as a job, something that I had to do because nobody else was going to do it. If I give up on working and feeding the kids, who would do it? I became a martyr of motherhood, and of womanhood.

As a woman, it is so easy for me to think that I have it hard. Women do have it hard, but American women have it harder. Not because we are shot if we try to go to school, nor because we have to go to the river to get water for our family, nor because we lack proper healthcare to deliver our children, but because as American women we have been sold the lie of “having it all”. We have been raised on the idea that we should have a career and a family without giving up any part of ourselves in order to have them. That is a lie; a big one.

Everything about being a wife and mother is about giving up parts of ourselves. It has taken me 21 years of mothering to finally realize that it is giving up those parts that makes me a halfway decent human being. Having a family makes us weak and vulnerable. Our family causes us to think things through, take less risks and to say “no” to things that we feel we have to do to save the world. Being a mom is more important than saving the world, and really saving the world is God’s job— we are just His instruments. My main job is to be a good mother to the children He gave me. Being a wife sometimes means that I have to start a load of my husband’s laundry when I have a million other things to do, not because he is incapable, but because he is my husband and that is how I take care of him. I pick outfits out of a laundry basket and I am fine, because like I said before, I am a slob. But my motivated husband likes his laundry to be clean and put away, and when it is otherwise he is overwhelmed. I know this and have to make a choice: be a wife, or do something else on my to-list. Being a wife is the second thing on my to-list, always. Number one on that list is to serve God, and there are days when doing the second thing on my to-list, a.k.a. being a wife, is how I serve Him the best. It does not come natural to me, but it is what makes me a better person.

This also means that I have to give up something. I cannot have it all: anytime that I choose something, something else gets unchosen. That is just the truth. People who can keep their house spotless give up something; in that choice, there is a sacrifice, and that is not a bad thing. Our God is a God who understands this; He chose to make us, and by doing so also chose to give us His Son, who would be nailed to a cross to save us. Love is full of choices, choices that stretch us to love to the max, and every one of those choices means that we are giving up something else, because having it all is a myth. We cannot have it all, nobody can. We were not meant to have it all in this world, we are meant to give our all in service to others.  That is our mission.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Leticia is a convert who came into the Catholic Church at Easter 2010. She is the mother of 4 kids and has 3 stepsons. She is also a grandmother to a beautiful two year old. Leticia sat on her Pastoral Council, blogs at Catholic Stand as well as her personal blog, is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree of Philosophy, is a wife, and helps with her parish's "Jesus is Lord" adult faith formation class and RCIA. Leticia has a radio show at Real Life Radio and is a volunteer with an organization that helps women in prison come to terms with their past and gives them the tools to cope with life when they are released. In her spare time she sleeps.

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  • Guy McClung

    Dear Welder Chick, Thank you for these words of wisdom, and of love. If you do not already write for publication, please consider writing a MARTHA MARTYDOM article. You are so spot-on for so many family gatherings, inlaws and outlaws, that I have
    witnessed for so many decades. There is no “i” in “lazy” but for me there
    should be. I am evolved from sloth/slobs, see no reason any bed should ever be
    made, no reason to wash dishes until you have used the last clean one, and
    certainly no reason to clean a shower until it is 100% covered in slime.
    Wedding china, Styrofoam plates, all the same to me. So please help all of
    us-and did you ever try either:1. No dessert til the dishes are done and the
    kitchen clean; or 2. You are all going straight to hell ? Guy McClung

  • Elijah fan

    I’m going to ask your husband’s guardian angel to wean him off cigarettes. My dad had an awful last year of life due to them….he had to fight each morning to breathe. Guardian angel of Mr. Adams…move him away from these cigarettes please as time goes on. Father in Heaven, make him think about the long term….when a person in old age needs whatever health they can get.

  • Guy McClung

    Dear Leticia, Thank you for putting a smile on my face. I will let you figure this out [full disclosure: I have been happily married for 42+ years; my wife, for about 39]-when I read this I could not help but think of the lines from the Country Song, The Winner: “but I got her, boys, and that makes me the winner.” I think part of your message is that all of us married folks, receiving the grace of the sacrament, become winners. Merry CHIRSTmas!

  • Therese

    TRUE. TRUE. TRUE!

  • We were not meant to have it all in this world, we are meant to give our all in service to others. That is our mission.

    So very true! And it’s taken me about 19 years to figure that out too! Letecia, I know exactly what you mean by being the martyr. Every time the Gospel account of Mary and Martha was read I would cringe. I most definitely was Martha… and could hear me saying similar things she did to my family and my thought was, “Well they should help!”

    So I prayed about it. After lots of prayer and confession 🙂 I’ve gotten to the point where I can ask my family, without rancor or a chip on my shoulder, to help with this or that; the neat freak in me has toned it down for my own sanity while at the same time nudging my nest making husband and kids to become more neat–the result is something we can all live with; even tho I still do more of the chores than anyone else, the fact remains I also do them the quickest and thus when I look at the time I spend on them, it really isn’t all that much, to which God asked me “So why are you working yourself up over this?” I had no valid reason, which helped me to finally let loose my grip on that Martha martyrdom.

    My daughter and grandson live with us and so the house is getting messier between his toys and him just pulling books or magazines out to play with them… and I find it doesn’t bug me very much at all. I’ll take having him around over a pristine house any day!