This is a phrase I hear a lot from others. It goes right along with, “Wow, you really have your hands full.” These comments don’t really mean anything, I know that. The person saying them never means to make me feel uncomfortable. It’s just a comment, small talk, and the person may even mean it as a compliment. Nevertheless, it does make me uncomfortable because I don’t know how to reply. Do I say, “Thank you?” Do I say, “I don’t know how I do it either?” I suppose what I should really say is the truth, “I don’t do it” or at least, “I don’t do it well.” I promise I’m not looking for someone to come back and say, “Oh, yes you do.” I definitely am not looking to be a martyr here. It is the truth. I don’t do it well, I’m not perfect. I lose my temper a lot. I cry. I want to get away for a night, a weekend. I try my best and I don’t know anyone who would do it differently.
Some friends of ours became parents a few years before we did. Their son had cerebral palsy. He struggled in many ways. We babysat him one night and when we came home, I told Karl, “I am so glad God chose them to be his parents because there is no way I could do it.” Looking back now, I feel horrible for ever saying that. Mara’s struggles are nothing like what this family faced, yet we have a lot in common. We both love our children and we do “it” because they are our children and it is the only thing we know how to do. Our friends son passed away when he was only 8 years old. I don’t know how my friend would feel now if I told her, “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you get through the day, missing your son and yet you still go on and smile for your other children and your family.” I wonder if her answer would be similar to mine. Would she say, “I don’t do it well. I cry and I hurt and sometimes the way I do it is just plain ugly?”
I didn’t want to write this to make others feel badly for making these comments. Like I said before, I know they don’t mean anything by it. I think maybe it is that the comment makes me feel guilty. I think to myself, “Wow, they think I am doing such a fabulous job, maybe I should actually try harder then. Maybe I should stop taking breaks to play Candy Crush. Maybe I should not sit on the couch and watch TV with my husband after bedtime and instead I should finish the laundry. Maybe I should stop writing this and pay attention to Stella in this rare moment I have with just her.” I guess I just wanted to write this to tell others that I do this because I love my children and my family and I have no other option. You would do the exact same thing, probably better than me.
So maybe instead of, “I don’t know how you do it,” you could say, “God bless you!” or “Your children are beautiful” or how about, “Want me to come over on Saturday morning so you can sleep in?” Ooh, that last one would be nice.