I think I might just scream.
You see I love what I do and there is no doubt that I get a buzz from it every day. I’m a better mum, wife, friend and colleague when I’m busy. But there is more than the odd occasion when I know my friends, family and even people that I have just met look at me, sometimes despairingly, to say “I just don’t know how you do it”.
And every time this is said to me I’m not exactly sure how to take it? I mean is it a compliment or a sign that someone thinks you might just be a little crazy or worse – selfish? As a consequence I often find myself trying to either explain what I do or minimize it. You see what I hear when this is said to me is not “how” but “why do you do it” and I find myself feeling like I am doing something not quite right. That by being the person I am I’m still not quite meeting people’s expectations and as an eldest child and a Virgo meeting expectations is everything!
So after it was said to me this week I actually found myself reflecting on it (ok I was showering at the time but multitasking is absolutely essential in this context) and I realized that for all my faults the bottom-line is I am a “serial doer” and I think it is time this condition was recognized for what it is as something that can’t be helped and while it may perplex some, it is also something that can only be done if those around you love you for it and support you as much as they can.
What does it mean to live with this tendency? Well look at my personal life. I am mum to three gorgeous souls all of whom I think I can make happy by being as involved as possible in any given moment. As a consequence I coach teams, I coordinate parent rosters, I prepare materials for groups, I put my hand up for parent functions, I offer to take friends kids and love every minute of it and I don’t think that I am unusual when compared to the women around me. It also means I feel incredibly guilty when I can’t do any of the above and I interpret the look of teachers who wonder how my kids can be running late to school or how they could have lost their homework book as a look of disdain. In my serial doing world sometimes little things slip through and I struggle to accept that.
I know I also frustrate my gorgeous husband becauseI simply just can’t sit and be. “Read a book” he says. “Rest” but the laundry calls and the table needs straightening (not to mention those floors and beds – I mean they have to be made before you go to work right!?)
With friends I’m constantly worrying that I am letting them down. I do cook meals for others when I know their hubby is away or they are struggling, I try to help with kids pick up and party drop offs, I try to remember birthdays (apologies to all my gorgeous pals that I have forgotten this year already), and I pass along my kids old clothes but still I feel that I should be doing more!
At work life is much the same – except here I am surrounded by people just like me. You see I think we are a group of people who are driven to go so far beyond 100% that I honestly think that sometimes we should be locked up for our own good! Some months I can ping from location to location – I have managed to do four States in one week at one point in time – and for the next month I will be spending one day of every weekend with my team and our amazing supporters at our Signature High Teas in Regional locations across Australia. In between all of that there are still trips to Victoria and one to WA and I am honestly looking forward to every moment.
But with all of that explained it brings me back to where I started – “How do I do it all” or ‘Why do I do it all” and I think there are three parts to my answer.
Firstly I honestly don’t think that I am anything special. I see amazing women and families every day who seem to get through an extraordinary amount of activity and I find them inspiring. One of my earliest mentors, a high achieving, working women told me that “the task always fits the time allocated Kylea” and I couldn’t‘ agree more. Somehow that idyllic life of lazy days and not much to do just doesn’t seem to exist in my circle anymore and that’s ok. What we have is amazing.
Secondly though I recognize that I have a problem in that it’s not necessarily a good thing when you’re doing becomes the thing that stops you from just being. I know my kids would love me to sit and listen to them read or cuddle them on the sofa, rather than me fussing over the risotto or tidying their drawers – and I am determined to do more of that. But at the end of the day I do all of it for them because I want them to live in a supportive, fun world where they know they can make a massive difference.
And finally I do it because without serial doers, serial non doers would have a lot more to do!
So next time you are tempted to exclaim to someone that “you really don’t know how they do it”, spare a thought for how it may impact them. They might just be hanging on for dear life and it is almost certain that they won’t see themselves as being any different to anyone else – until you point it out. Let them run – they will eventually tire and on those nights you will find them, like me, in bed at 7:30pm … sleeping soundly but still ultimately dreaming of everything there is to do the next day!
- Makers, doers, changers (othershelves.wordpress.com)
- Balancing Act (fromadreamerseye.wordpress.com)
- The difference between dreamers and doers (doriandargan.com)
- Aaaaaaand Action! Be a doer and not just a hearer. (justanotherdaysjourney.wordpress.com)
- Whether women ‘lean in’ or ‘lean out’, jobs have to change for us to succeed | Stacy Mason (guardian.co.uk)