We Can’t Do Everything: A Lesson From My Son

On any given day you may find me teetering on a unicycle, juggling loads of laundry and dirty dishes. At the same time I may be meal prepping or lesson planning in my mind. I’m checking my calendar to make sure we don’t miss an appointment, all while caring for two little lives. Sound familiar?

Just the other day my son, Jameson, brought me down off my imaginary unicycle and became my innocent voice of reason.

We were struggling to get out the door on time for soccer camp. I spent the last hour trying to feed my kids, chase them with the sunscreen, and convince them to complete one more task on our checklist before heading out. It was “crazy hair day” at soccer, so I wasted my time putting my daughter’s hair ties in my son’s hair, before we both decided it was a no-go. We settled on a super-sprayed Mohawk that would be destroyed in two seconds once the squirt gun fight started. (Yes, it was also “water fight day.”) We had no squirt gun, so we had to leave early in order to pick one up at Target.


A steady stream of sweat beads dripped down my back as I pulled those tight socks over his shin guards. Drip-drop. Tick-tock. Last came the shoes. In that moment I wanted my son to be able to do one of these tasks. Perhaps the shoes?

My frustration came out in an angered sigh, and I mumbled under my breath, “I have to do everything.”

I didn’t want him to hear it. I shouldn’t have said it. In the moment, I was stressed and wanting to get out the door.

My son looked at me confused and said, “No, Mom. You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to chop down trees, and you don’t have to teach today.”


Yes! I have no idea what made my little park ranger think of one of the deadliest jobs in the world, but boy, am I glad I don’t have to do that! Yes! It is summer–time to relax with my kids and not head to the front of the classroom.

Those tender words cooled me down with a breeze of relief, but warmed my heart. I stopped lacing his shoes, cupped his smiling cheeks in my hands, and smooched him with a big kiss.

“Thank you, Buddy. You are so right. That makes me feel better.”

We made it to soccer camp basically on time, and my son had one of his best days.

Fast forward two days:

I hear Jameson holler from the bathroom, “Mom, you really need to clean this toilet!”


“I’m sure I do. I could probably clean everything.” (referring to my house)

“No, you don’t. You don’t have to clean everything. You don’t have to clean my school, and you don’t have to clean the trees.”

Again with the trees, but he brings some good perspective.

“You’re right, Buddy. I’ll clean what I can when I have time.”

“Did I make you feel better?” He remembered how he brightened my spirits just the other day.

He did make me feel better.

Instead of engaging in rage cleaning throughout the entire house and trying to do everything, I read books and sang songs to my son before bed.

Did I clean that toilet? Yes, I did, after I put him to bed that night. Did I clean my whole house? No.

We can’t do everything. Not all at once. We don’t have to do everything.

I may never master the art of juggling all the moving parts of parenting. My son helped me realize that if, at the end of the day, my family is happy, healthy, and consumed by my love, I can chalk it off as a win.


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