The busy-ness competition

Today’s guest post is from one of my favourite bloggers, and a wonderful writer, Molly from Mother’s Always Right. If you want to say hello to Molly you can pop over to Facebook or Twitter.

street art

Do you ever get that feeling that you’re the busiest person of everyone you know? Because I do.  All the time.

Bumping into a mum friend as I unpack the shopping and attempt to stop my toddler hauling herself into the road: “Hi, yes fine thanks, really busy, you know how it is!” We exchange a couple of pleasantries about the life of a busy mum and nod to each other knowingly. And as she walks away I secretly think, “BUSY?! What does she know about busy?

Chatting to a blogging friend on Twitter as I try to ignore my mountain of unanswered emails and deadlines coming out of my ears: “Oh I haven’t blogged in ages, can’t seem to find the time, you know how it is!” We exchange a few tweets about blog time management and bemoan our lack of thinking space. And as she tweets off with someone else I secretly think, “BUSY?! What does she know about busy?

Catching up with my husband over our evening meal: “Yeah, pretty full-on day, did the work stuff in the morning, hate that drive though, only the one tantrum from F in the afternoon, really tired now, you know how it is.” We reassure each other it’s nearly the weekend and this one – unlike the last – will be quiet. And as he wanders off to clear the plates away in the kitchen I secretly think, “BUSY?! What does he know about busy?

I’m forever comparing and contrasting. Notching up my long old work weeks compared to my friends who stay at home with their children. Notching up my lack of blog time in the evenings, compared to my fellow bloggers who have hours to comment on other blogs and chat on Twitter.  Notching up my childcare time and the activities I do with my daughter compared to my husband who is out at work all day.

I always come up short.

In my head, I am the most time poor person in the world. No one else compares. No one. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, I’ve already decided. There is no one who will come near my crown. This is MY busy and no one else is coming close dammit!

And then I breathe.

And I remember.

My own mum didn’t get much more than five hours of sleep a night when I was little either. She also worked full time and then some, cycling across a busy city to drop me at nursery, before cycling back in the opposite direction to take on a full day in an inner city comprehensive school. She was pretty busy.

And I concede, maybe I’m not the only person on the planet to juggle being a mum with working extremely long hours. And, actually, maybe I need to cut everyone else a bit of slack.

That friend who is a stay at home mum? When do I ever see her looking serene? She’s always flustered, with hair sticking up from the top of her head where she’s pulled on a jumper and run out of time to smooth the stray locks away. She’s always running from nursery to school to trumpet lessons to the post office to Sainsburys to nursery to trumpet lessons to the dry cleaners, back to Sainsburys. She’s pretty busy too, I guess.

The fellow blogger who I assume spends the day reading and commenting and mulling over inspiration for another incredible post? Do I actually SEE her anywhere other than in my mind’s eye? I imagine her sitting quietly on a rocking chair, scribbling beautiful words into a notebook in longhand, before taking to her computer to blog at her leisure. But then… she has three children doesn’t she? And doesn’t she work too? And isn’t she doing up a house as well? Oh. Maybe she IS kind of busy then.

This hits me like a train. I’m so caught up in my own busy woes, struggling to keep my To Do list straight in my head, attempting to answer emails while juggling a toddler and come up with creative content for my work while setting my early alarm clock…. I’m consumed. I have pushed out that bit of room that I used to keep free for empathy. I’ve lost it. Instead, I’m filled with a bitter jealousy of anyone who appears to have a shred more time than I. I covet their time like some people covet fancy shoes or jewels.

But they’re probably doing the same. That friend who stays at home with her children probably hasn’t enjoyed a hot cup of tea in five years. That blogger who creates beautiful post after beautiful post probably has to do it once the kids are in bed, when she’d happily sit on the sofa and lose herself in mind numbing TV for a while.

We all have our trials. We are all tested. We are all busy.

I guess maybe I’m ready to share my Busy Crown. Who wants a piece?

16 responses

  1. This is me too! SO true. It particularly rings true with the conversations my husband and I have. He’s the most competitive man in the world so we always agree at the end of our daily evening ‘share and compare’ chat, we smile and say that, ok, he wins. Great post. Nice to see you made the time to make a post, busy lady😉

    • Oh I know those conversations well! It’s funny how we can even be competitive about time at home, isn’t it? Our “talks” about time always seem to end in us agreeing we’re a team and need to start tackling things together a bit more, although the same conversation comes up time and time again so I guess we’re not having the “chat” often enough!

    • Know the feeling well! I worked from home last year and constantly felt stressed and busy. I now work far longer hours (from home and the office) and feel equally stressed and busy. I don’t know where time goes. I expect even when I’m old and retired I’ll probably feel just as time poor!

  2. I too am consumed by my own busy-ness! I do think it is a case of grass is always greener sometimes as well. My friends who stay at home envy my time at work as much as I envy their time at home with their children. I always think I would have more time to blog if I didn’t work but I know I’d just fill the time doing something else.

  3. This is very true! It’s easy to become consumed in our own busyness that we forget to consider that everyone around us may be feeling just as stressed. I think we all have our own threshold for how much work we can take on in a day without crumbling under pressure, so it’s completely normal for a person with a much shorter to-do list to feel just as busy as someone with a to-do list a mile long.

  4. Oh I can see relate to this and I’m feeling exactly the same right now. I feel I constantly have to TELL the whole world about how busy I am – so much so that I can’t seem to think of anything other than how busy I am, to blog about!! Us women are competitive about everything!

  5. Great read! I fondly remember leisurely times when I was on maternity leave with my first child – which at the time seemed like hard work! With two now I’m in a constant whirl. I have moments where I have absolutely no idea how some friends achieve what they seem to achieve. Or how my mum coped with three and no childcare! And then there are times when I think – bloody hell I’m doing OK, I’m pretty good at this busy-ness thing. But it would be nice to indulge in a bit of laziness occasionally! We have a bit of an running tiredness competition here. I always think I’m winning because I do night-time baby duties, but somehow hubby reckon’s he’s contender. The cheek!

  6. I do this too! And I’ve become that person I used to hate before I had my baby, who said things like “what do you know about rushing around!?” I’m pretty sure it won’t get any easier when I go back to work next month after nine months of maternity leave…. Great post x

    • I really like this! I remember a friend who doesn’t have children saying to me when my kids were 4 and 2 (and I had a very stressful job) that she really needed some me-time, and really struggling not to shriek ‘all your time is me-time!’. Now I am a bit further down the parenting line it bothers me much less. But this post definitely resonated with me!

  7. Pingback: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas | Molly Forbes

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