“You can have it all, you just have to change the picture in your head of what having it all looks like,” said an aging Murphy Brown to Carrie Bradshaw in one of the Sex and the City movies. Although I’m not Candice Bergen having an affair with Vizzini from The Princess Bride, and I’m possibly paraphrasing the line, this quote (or its variation) has stuck with me. I, like all mothers out there, am stretched way too thin.
As a single mom to three and a small business owner, sometimes I think running around with my hair on fire is just the trajectory of my life these days. We are late to everything. Everyone’s clothes are covered in dog hair. Dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds roll through my living room floor. Right now, in this season of my life, I don’t think that will change. I am one person. I cannot actually do the work of two people no matter how hard I try. I can’t pick one plate to juggle while the rest fall; I am in charge of every plate. What can change? Turns out, its my mindset.
I once told someone, “yeah I do it all, but I do it all at about 80%. Thats all everyone gets from me right now; my best 80%.” She looked stunned. “What?” “Yep. I’ve made peace with the fact that while everyone and everything needs me, none of it can actually get all of me. So, each thing gets 80% of me.” As a woman who is growing out of her perfectionist tendencies, this was a hard mindset to adopt in many ways, but the implementation of “My Best 80” has been a sanity saver.
Don’t get me wrong— I’m still a dedicated mother, partner, business owner, friend, etc. I just cannot let any one of those things eclipse all the others with any regularity. Some days, My Best 80 ebbs and flows like when a sick child needs me more than a paint brush, or when no one has underwear because laundry mountain mirrors Everest, so domesticity takes a front seat to anything else. MB80 is funny to say out loud or to chant to myself when it all seems too much, but MB80 is really a synonym for grace.
I give my friends and loved ones more grace than I would ever give myself; don’t we all? It seems like across the board, everyone is allowed to have bad days, except for you yourself. For most women, no one could ever be as mean to us or demanding of us than that little voice hardwired into our heads, chanting to us nearly constantly about all the ways we are letting everyone down. I don’t want to be tired all the time. I don’t want to be burnt out. I don’t want to be short with my children or resentful of the career I’ve worked so hard to build. Giving myself grace in the form of MB80 is a way to say, if nothing else, “its okay and you’re doing the best you can.”
I’m incredibly grateful that in this stage of my life, I have surrounded myself with other like minded individuals; people who are hardworking and driven, but people who also see the value in putting their phones on silent and watching a few hours of Netflix when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Instead of wishing that I had more hours in a day or wishing that I did better at ___ thing(s) at any given moment, I understand that MB80 is a way of life that allows me to shrug off guilt or comparisons and tell myself that I am doing there best I can; that I am trying my best. And I truly believe that we all are.
I used to joke that I had to panic clean before anyone came to my house. “They can’t know how we really live!” I’d exclaim, partially joking but mostly serious. What would people think if they saw dirty floors and dishes in the sink? Would they judge the dust I’ve let accumulate in such thickness it would put Miss Havisham to shame? At some point though, I stopped caring. If you come into my house, if you come into my life-- a life full of rowdy boys and dogs, full of chaos and loud noises and me at the helm looking mostly fine-- please know, its all getting My Best 80%. I’m finally giving myself the grace that I so deserve. And if I come into your life, into your house, or into both, I’ll assume the same of you too.
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