I can only do what I can do.
These words are my new mantra. As my workload doubled over the last six weeks with big changes in my company, and my husband left town to care for a sick family member, I have lived in a constant state of overwhelm.
When I'm not glued to my laptop on a Zoom call (or Skype, or GlobalMeet, or Teams), I am emptying and filling the dishwasher, trying to make sense of lengthy emails about ever-changing school reopening plans, and pleading with our anxious dog to please, PLEASE stop barking. Oh yeah – I'm also checking on my kids, trying to limit screen time and brainstorm other indoor activities since it is 106 degrees outside, and the pools are closed.
I wake up nearly every day, take one look at my calendar and email inbox, and say (often out loud), "I cannot do all this! It's too much!" And it is. I am right: I can't do it all.
For a long time, I blamed myself when I couldn't accomplish everything expected at work while also taking care of my kids while also fitting in time for MS-related self-care while also sleeping sometimes while also emptying the dishwasher again. I tried to figure out what I could give up from my overpacked schedule: Walking the dog? Before-bed reading? Thirty minutes of sleep?
I mastered multitasking: half-hour on the Stairmaster while reading work emails, cleaning the kitchen or laundry during select conference calls.
But I've learned even with thoughtful strategizing and corner-cutting, I still can't catch up at work. I still couldn't make the scone recipe I wanted or mow the yard or change the sheets this weekend.
Hence my reminder – a form of self-care, really: I can only do what I can do. Somehow this simple, obvious truism gives me comfort.
Because I am not superhuman, and my day is only 24 hours, I will be a little less conscientious. I will ignore some emails. I will take my dog to the garden in the morning and start work 15 minutes late. It will be enough; it has to be enough.
And in rare moments, I may even be grateful I have Too Much, to live a life that is stuffed with activities and projects and even interruptions.
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