I was a freshman in high school when I decided I wanted to be the girl who does it all.
I was seeing senior pictures for the first time and noticing how often people posed with some object that represented their talents and accomplishments, like footballs and flutes. But I was particularly impressed by the senior picture of one girl who laid on the ground and surrounded her head with a bunch of objects: the yearbook, varsity letters, instruments, medals, a camera, etc. I knew immediately: I wanted to be THAT girl. The girl who was known not just for doing one thing, but for doing ALL THE THINGS.
And so I set out to do just that. I joined clubs. I signed up for solo and ensemble events. I auditioned for shows. Heck, I even took up running Cross Country. And that’s not the worst of it: I actually volunteered to be the student representative* to the school board.
(*Note to current high school students: This is a terrible idea, by the way, unless you LOVE power points featuring lots of charts about budgets. And long-winded debates about local politics.)
Not to brag, but I became a regular in The Platteville Journal with my photo appearing for sports, clubs, drama, awards, and more. (Not to mention my byline appeared almost weekly because I also wrote articles for the local newspaper. Apparently writing for the school newspaper just wasn’t enough extra homework for me.)
I never did take that “brag shot” senior picture. By that point, I had a reputation that I liked quite a bit: the girl who does it all.
Do you know what is fun about being the girl who does it all? It isn’t the schedule juggling or the responsibilities. It isn’t even some of the activities you’re doing (I loved drama and dance, but no one signs up to be the school board representative for “fun.”) No, you’re not necessarily enjoying DOING all the stuff. It’s the admiration. The “How do you do it?” questions. The “I saw you in the paper again!” comments. It all makes you feel pretty smart and accomplished and enviable.
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I haven’t had as much coverage in The Platteville Journal (or any other publication, for that matter), but I’ve been trying really hard to be the girl who does it all for the better part of the last decade. I still get the occasional “I don’t know how you do it all!” comments from someone. But more and more my answer has been: I don’t do it all.
I’ve been slipping–missing bills and birthdays, living on leftovers, watching more and reading less–as I try to be full time teacher and pastor’s wife and mom and me. I’m using all my time and my energy on things I care less about and sidelining the people and ideas I care most about. More importantly, by the time I see the people I love most, I’ve run out of patience and energy. And in all of this I’ve started to embrace one of my least favorite words in the English language…
Who wants to be just a mom? Or just a pastor’s wife? It sounds so limiting. So demeaning. So cliche.
But over the course of the last school year, I’ve realized that is exactly what I want to be. I want to be just the mom of two unpredictable and creative little girls (and whoever their sibling turns out to be)! I want to be just my husband’s wife, supporting him in the role he’s so gifted for. I want to be less scattered and more focused.
I realize the cost. I realize I’m not always going to feel particularly awesome about my new just role. But if I believe in anything, it is the power of laying down one’s life for others. I believe it is good for the soul. I believe it is good for others. I believe it is blessed by God.
I take comfort in the words of Christ, who was about to face his greatest sacrifice: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
I want to do less and to be more… for just a few people. I want to be admired less and to celebrate others more. I am willing to bury the girl who does it all in the hopes that it will be the just the seed that brings new life, new fruitfulness for my family and for God’s kingdom.