(Please Don't Skip It)
I'm not a mom who plays. I mean, I will, but I personally don't like knocking down a stack of blocks twenty thousand times in a row, no matter how much joy it brings my kids.
Thankfully, my husband is a dad who plays. A few summers ago, he came up big while we were vacationing at the beach. He dug an impressive hole in the sand, a hole so deep you had to lean over the edge to see the bottom. Then, with the enthusiasm of a carnival showman, he got all three kids to race back and forth from the ocean, carrying buckets of water to fill the hole as quickly as they could.
Over and over again, they hauled and poured, hauled and poured.
But that hole would not fill up.
Every single drop soaked back into the sand, taunting them in their efforts. Because my kids are adorable little weirdos, they thought it was fun and played the game for a long while—that is, until a flock of aggressive seagulls became more interesting.
As they ran off to chase the birds, I saw the discarded buckets surrounding the empty hole and realized I was looking at a metaphor of my life. Maybe it's one for yours too.
Here's what we do as women. We pick our spot in the sand to dig a hole, checking to see if the women around us are choosing similar (or, gulp, better) spots, trying not to be distracted by their motherly patience and bikini bodies. We start digging, hoping the hole is deep enough and headed in the right direction. Where is it going? No idea, but who cares. Everyone else is digging, so we dig too.
Eventually it's time to start hauling buckets to fill the hole. We carry load after load of "water"—color-coded calendars, room-mom responsibilities, meal plans, and work-life balance. We haul. We try. We sweat. And we watch that hole stay empty.
Now we're confused.
Does everyone else have this figured out? Is my hole too deep? And where is all the water going?
We pause to catch our breath, wondering if everyone else feels like an epic failure too. One person can't possibly keep up with a clean house, a fulfilling job, a well-adjusted family, an active social life, and a running regimen of fifteen miles a week, right?
With silence our only answer, we decide, No, it's just me. I need to get it together. What follows is a flurry of habit trackers, calendar overhauls, and internet rabbit holes to figure out how to be better, until we pass out from emotional exhaustion or actual adrenal fatigue or we give up completely and head back to the beach house for a shame-filled margarita.
THE REAL REASON YOU'RE TIRED
You're not tired because laundry takes up more space on your couch than humans do, no one in your house seems to care about your work deadline, or your kid's school lunch rule is "grapes must be quartered." The tasks are plentiful, but you know your to-do list isn't solely to blame.
You're "on" all the time, trying to be present with your people, managing the emotions of everyone around you, carrying the invisible needs of strangers in line at the post office, and figuring out how to meet your own needs with whatever you have left over—assuming you know what your needs are in the first place.
It's too much. Or maybe it feels like too much because you haven't read the right book, listened to the right podcast, or found the right system.
I know that feeling. I've spent an embarrassing number of hours searching for the right tools to make my life feel under control, and I have the abandoned stack of planners and high-lighted self-help books to prove it. Unnecessary spoiler alert: they didn't help.
On one side, I felt like I had to create a carbon copy of the author's life, even though I dislike going to bed early and don't travel to twenty cities a year speaking at events.
On the other side? Follow your dreams, girl. Apparently, my to-do list isn't the problem; my small-time thinking is.
Still, I highlighted dozens of passages, trying to MacGyver together some kind of plan that made sense for me. Maybe the right combination of life hacks and inspirational quotes would keep me from lying awake in the middle of the night with worry. Yet despite book after book, quote after quote, and plan after plan, I stayed tired. Maybe you're reading this book because you feel it too.
I have good news. You don't need a new list of things to do; you need a new way to see.