I still remember the first time I heard the phrase “Don’t put your eggs all in one basket.” I was about four years old and we had an old Atari game where you had to catch eggs in a basket and during the game, the little chicken would remind you not to put all the eggs in one basket.
I remember mulling that one over for a while. Why wouldn’t I put all my eggs in one basket, I wondered. It seemed smart to me. Then they’re all safe and snug in one spot where I can’t lose them. Oh, but then what if I lost the basket? Well, I’d lose all my eggs! Or what if I dropped the basket? Yikes, I’d break all the eggs. I began to understand the wisdom of that chicken.
It is years later and I find myself still mulling over that piece of advice. Now I’m not catching Atari eggs. Shoot, I’m not even worried about real eggs in a real basket. I’m thinking a bit more philosophically over here.
Sometimes I find myself pouring my heart and soul into these little children that have been entrusted to me. Metaphorically speaking: I put all my eggs in one basket.
All of my time and energy gets stuck in that basket of mine called kids. They may be little, but what they lack in size, they make up for in noise and needs. There’s the crying and the talking and the quarreling and the questioning, oh the questioning. There’s the need for food and comfort and security; the need for education and discipline and guidance.
It’s so easy to put all my eggs in one basket. It’s easy to set aside the rest of me to tend to them.
It started off innocently enough. With the birth of my first baby, I quickly dropped out of most of my social enjoyments. No more date nights. Movies with the girls were a thing of the past. Long shopping trips with Mom were a whisper in the wind. And, of course, no more vacationing (because traveling with kids is NOT vacation…it’s travel).
I thought it was temporary, this adjustment I was making.
It just seemed too hard to find someone to leave the baby with and on the occasion that either mine or Daxson’s mom volunteered, it seemed like so much effort to time it just right to get out the door and back in time to nurse again. It just seemed easier to tote the baby along or to skip going out at all (because let’s face it… there are just times when you take that baby along and you spend the entire time distracting them so that the whole outing is just one big exhausting adventure.)
But I didn’t completely lose myself in the beginning.
There were still hobbies I enjoyed that were not completely kid related. I managed to knit a few washcloths in those first few years, put together a few scrapbooks, even read quite a list of books. Daxson still got plenty of attention, we just didn’t go out anymore. I was inspired to cook (as this was before my picky eaters were born,) so time in the kitchen was well enjoyed. I managed to squeeze in workouts, grocery shop without a baby in tow and get adequate rest as I lived by the adage “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Then the second baby arrived.
And I spent a little more time on kid related matters and a little less time on me. Then the third baby came and by then I was beginning to think about homeschooling our little children and slowly more of my time fell into the kid basket.
The fourth baby arrived and between changing diapers, disciplining preschoolers, educating school age children and providing physically for all of their needs, I ceased to exist. I had officially dumped all of my eggs into one little basket. I had one title to which I answered…not wife or friend or sister or daughter. I was mommy.
On top of all that, I actually believed that little satanic voice in my head that kept telling me that I had to do it all myself and I had to do it all perfectly and it all had to be done or I was a rotten mother.
I spent a few years telling myself that the slump I was in was normal. I was a busy mom of four. It was to be expected. Of course, it was normal to be tired. Of course, it was normal to be grumpy. Of course, it was normal to lose the spunk that used to motivate me. I rationalized that I’d connect with my husband again when things were less hectic. I’d pick up a hobby again when life slowed down. I even convinced myself that the kids were my hobby.
And then I hit exhaustion. Burn-out. The ultimate low slump. And I just couldn’t get out of it. Those darling little children of mine? Yeah, they weren’t inspiring me anymore. I had forgotten what a book without parenting advice looked like. I wasn’t even sure where to look for my knitting needles. My pictures were piling up with no scrapbook plans in sight. My poor husband looked like he was in need of a hot date and I was too exhausted to even put on a bra.
And then I remembered the chicken and the eggs. And I realized I had done a fine job of putting all of my eggs in one basket.
So I picked up my eggs and started mindfully looking for other baskets.
First I started a book club. Sure it was with other moms, in the beginning, and all of our conversations looked at our role as mothers in our kids’ lives, but still, it was something. Then I started consciously setting aside time every night with Daxson. Time to just stare at him if I felt like it. I devoted thirty minutes in the morning while Daxson made his coffee and read the Bible to the kids to get out and exercise.
A while later I found a moms group that nourishes my homeschooling heart and strengthens my resolve to parent well. I dusted off my knitting needles and taught myself to paint with watercolors. I surrounded myself with people again and hobbies and books that aren’t kid related.