Advice for Moms

Is My Normalcy Another Mom’s Insanity?

Me Ra Koh

Do you ever wonder ‘Is my normalcy another mom’s insanity?’  It’s that moment when I start to feel insecure and struggle with comparing myself to other moms about how I’m raising my kids, doing life, going to workout or not workout, and all the other comparative scenarios I can think of.

The last ten days have been CRAZY, but I love it ALL.

Some of my friends think my life is insane.

But I remember Roger (good ole Roger, our ever faithful marriage counselor for two decades!) telling me years ago, “Me Ra, you are just who you are. Your normalcy may often be another mom’s insanity. What’s important is that you know who you are, how you function, and what brings you fulfillment.”

For example…

I started the week speaking at an event in California.  On Thursday I was back in Seattle, WA. The kids and I jumped into the new homeschool curriculum and started the school year again!

Friday we did homeschool for four hours. Then Brian did a dad’s night with the kids while I went to Seattle for my grandma’s 78th birthday.  I took her to see Phantom of the Opera (AMAZING!).  We also had dinner, stayed at my favorite spot, Inn at the Market, and then talked and giggled until 2am.

Is your normalcy another mom's insanity? Are you okay with that or do you feel like you're stuck in the comparison trap?  This little bit of truth will set you free!

I love my grandma.

Saturday, my grandma and I walked around Pike Place Market, had lunch and then headed home.

Is your normalcy another mom's insanity? Are you okay with that or do you feel like you're stuck in the comparison trap?  This little bit of truth will set you free!

On Sunday our family went to church, gardened, swimming and had a fun candlelight dinner on the deck with the kids.

Monday morning, I hit the gym at 6:30am, breakfast for the kids, shower, and started work and school by 9am.

Sometimes I come home from a speaking trip or photo shoot and wear my pj’s for a few days with my hair in a bun and call it good.  Sometimes we’re on top of it and have a weekly dinner menu. 

Other times I’m thanking God for take-out. 

Some years I get my Christmas stuff put away right after New Years.  And other years, well…let’s just say I’m thankful for how Valentine’s Day draws a clear line in the sand.  LOL!

With homeschool, running our business, building a family travel show, and keeping the lights on…you could say it’s busy around here, and yes, I need a ton of structure to keep my sanity. But here’s the thing, I love structure.  And even more, I LOVE our life.

I love my life.

I love the craziness and the fast pace.

I love the moments we breathe deep as a family while planting our winter seeds in the garden or harvesting our cherry tomatoes in the late summer. I love the laziness of sitting by the pool and catching up with friends or swimming like a dolphin with my kids. And I love the privilege of filming and travel while being able to meet, teach, photograph and speak to so many of you.

Part of the territory with this kind of craziness in life is to feel spread thin at times (or feel like I could do things so much better whether it be personally or with work). Sometimes I feel like I’m failing because everything around me is moving fast. This is why my garden is so important. This is why homeschooling with Brian and the kids keep me grounded. This is why green drinks with purple kale are a necessity after I get home from a trip.

Should I slow down? Sometimes yes, other times no. I have people to keep me in check when it comes to that question.

The bigger issue I face is to not buy into the lie that life is meant to be perfect…if I just work hard enough. 

Can anyone relate?

When you buy into that lie, mom’s insanity hits a whole new level! Here’s the saving grace of it all…when you juggle a lot, perfection doesn’t get invited over for dinner as often. No room at the table.

At night I feel a deep peace inside my spirit, and I know that as long as that peace is strong and present…we are in the right place. BUT, I have to be careful not to struggle with comparing myself to other moms. The moment I start to compare, weeds sprout everywhere and choke out all my peace.

But what about you?

Do you feel like your normalcy is another mom’s insanity?

If yes, is that okay with you? Do you have a deep peace at night too? Or do you feel like something needs to change in your life?

If no, is this okay with you? Do you feel content at the end of the day? Or do you find yourself yearning for something more?

It’s so important to check in with ourselves and know that our life, however chaotic, crazy, insane, calm, quiet, or even routine…whatever side of the spectrum we are living on…we know this is where we are supposed to be until our next step is revealed.  That’s how we can stand tall in our own normalcy.

Does that make any sense? Talk to me.

xo

m

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  1. lora says:

    I love what you said about when you juggle a lot perfection doesn’t get invited to dinner as much…..there’s no room at the table. 🙂

    It is so true! I have been trying to start a photography business while being a wife and a mom to 3 kids ages 6,4, and 1. I have been so involved in learning and stalking photography blogs, and editing pictures that the house around me has taken the backseat. My house, and life is far from perfect but I feel so richly blessed to have found something that I’m passionate about …… for the FIRST time in my life. I do have peace when I lay down, and not only peace, but deep JOY! Just back in june something that I wrote on my vision board was for me “to be able to use my God given talent to inspire others”. I imagined it would be through drama somehow ( I love acting), but then the photography bug hit me like you wouldn’t believe……I mean can’t sleep, jumping up and down with excitement, crazy woman happy! I have had some FLUBS (I’ve only been at this 3 months), but I KNOW that I’m on the right track, and I couldn’t be happier. I bought your 101 kit too! 🙂 I think that when mom and dad are happy, the whole family is happy. If your schedule and what you do gives you peace at night, then that will flow down to your children. It sounds like you make the most of your time together by making sure that it’s deep quality time which makes up for crazy days! 🙂 Thank you for being Me Ra!

  2. maya says:

    sometimes i wonder. see, my hubby and i are always talking about how if we could just get into a routine, then things would “settle down” and things would be “better.” but then when we do, one or both of us do something that shakes things up again. i think we like the excitement of something new, of changing our lives/location, but eventually we tire out and think we want something more “normal.” but after six years together, i think however/wherever we are living our lives at that moment is normal. i’m slowly letting go of the idea of normal. i’ve never felt normal, so why should i start now?

  3. chelsie says:

    I love it! I hope my life can be that caotic one day =) seriously.

  4. kelli says:

    I totally agree..I completely hear you when you talk about comparing your life to others. I say it all the time. Stay focused…the minute I start comparing is when everything starts to slide in a different direction in some way. Like taking your eyes off the road for just a second..however small that swerve (sp), can take your mind and focus in a completely different direction. And then I have to really work sometimes at convincing myself that what I have is great, wonderful, happy…I can’t say it always easy but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  5. Hi Me Ra!

    Reading this this morning was so refreshing. I myself haven’t blogged because my life has been chaotic, and I haven’t necessarily embraced it as well as you have. I thought Matt might be coming home early, this week in fact, and we were going to surprise the girls. Good thing it was my little secret because this morning we found out he will be staying for another couple months. So what was to be a wonderful surprise has turned out to be a great disappointment. I have had to put all of my photography ambitions aside, as we are moving to Hawaii in Feb. and now I MUST sell our home in a depressed market. So I am working hard, purging, storing, staging, getting this house ready to go on the market. Anyway, this week I got in my first car accident (minor I backed into a parked car), my dryer broke then my washer, and my 2 yr old mega tv broke and it can only be repaired in Ohio and is no longer under warranty! But after all of these little setbacks I am reminded of a little boy close to my heart who recently lost his battle with cancer and how he taught me to “LIVE LIFE TO THE MAX” http://mikulak.blogspot.com/ . So while my problems may seem big to me at the time, they are minor in the scheme of life and my overcoming them is why I am here. It is what forces me to grow and go beyond my comfort zone of how I like to deal with one problem at a time. I just know that I can only take it one day at a time, and that my life is pretty damn GOOD! My photography will always be there for me, it’s waiting patiently…waiting for me to get through the muddle so I may see clearly with the focus I had only a few short months ago. I think the difference is NOW I know, I believe it will happen, that it is not fleeting. That chaos can produce genius and that it will only happen if I allow it. I get these wonderful emails from the Universe and I thought I’d share mine from today…it just seems so fitting:

    What happens when someone worries?
    Basically, they think of 100 reasons why something might go wrong. And all of those thoughts then struggle to become things, sometimes overriding their more constructive thoughts.

    It’s like a train wreck. Ain’t pretty. But that’s the power of worry.

    Now, let’s say you want something fantastic to manifest in your life, Carrie. Hypothetically, let’s say you want a thriving fulfilling business. (I know you.)

    Have you sat down yet and listed 100 reasons why it might come to you easily, fast, and harmoniously?

    I think you should.

    Today works,
    The Universe

    God Bless Me Ra and thank you for the daily inspiration!

  6. Michelle says:

    Another wonderful, thought provoking post. I gotta say, you make it look easy, you really do. I feel like most of the time I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off and still getting nothing done. I was reading an article last night by Martha Beck, in the latest Oprah magazine about how to prioritize your time to make sure you are spending time doing things that are important and urgent rather than not important and not urgent. The article offers some great advice that I need to follow to make better use of my time. Unfortunately, I may find that surfing the net reading blogs may fall into the not important category ;).
    I think you have done a great job at doing just that (or at least you make it look that way). You have taken time to check in to make sure that however crazy your life is, the things that make it crazy are important. For example..you outsource your laundry..how great is that. You figured out what your time is worth and how much more productive you could be if you handed other things off.So yes, you are running around the country on the move all the time, making a difference in the lives of others and know that you do not have to come home to piles of laundry. I think that is the secret ;). I think most of us moms (and Jeremy) try to do it all and then feel bad about ourselves when we can’t. We spend hours making treats for our kids class parties because we feel we have to when we could have just gone to buy some and spent that time better.
    So..do I feel content at the end of the day..nope, not really.

  7. Susanne says:

    Me Ra- you are LIVING life! That is awesome! I love my “hectic” life also it makes me feel accomplished.

  8. Me Ra, this post totally spoke to me! My friends tell me all of the time, “I don’t know how you do it?”, or “aren’t you tired?”…I get that one a lot. The answer is “sometimes”, but I thrive on being busy, even though I break down and complain that my schedule is too much sometimes. Don’t we all? I’ve always been a firm believer that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another, and I’m blessed to have a supportive “home body” husband that enjoys spending time with his daughter and picks up the slack when I just can’t do it all.

    Thanks for always inspiring me and making me feel like I’m not alone!

    ~Tessa (from the San Diego workshop)

  9. Rob Sylvan says:

    Just have to say that I love (live) this quote:

    “when you juggle a lot, perfection doesn’t get invited over for dinner as often. No room at the table.”

    lol … Thanks for that. 🙂

  10. ali says:

    What perfect timing for this post Me Ra!!! I am in tears because I just took a step back not too long ago and realized that I was NOT in a state of peace at the end of the day. After talking it over with my husband for about a month and ALOT of prayer…I resigned from day job. Today is the first day “home.” I was doing both the pharmacy and photography but I have been getting really busy with my photography and had no time for the fam. I asked myself what was more important? Things? Or my kids’ eternity. I can only take my children with me to heaven…if I instill the truth in them. So, now this HUGE peace has overcome me. I know I am where I need to be. Now I need to trust God’s provision for my family…the kids are loving me being home…and I love it too!!!

  11. Kelly Marie says:

    Oh Me Ra, I can relate to this so much! My husband is in a rock band that tours the world. Weeks at a time! When he is gone, my life is chaos. I busy myself to make the time fly. Some times I tour with him (what a way to see Europe). And when he is home, we just try to spend as much time together and do as much as we can pack in. All while dragging our 2 year old along with it.

    People have commented on how crazy our lives are. So different. That they couldn’t handle it. Sometimes I wish for a more “normal”, slower paced life… but i’m pretty sure I would be bored to tears.

  12. Me Ra Koh says:

    oooh, I’m loving how rich all your comments are! Keep them coming! It’s so good to hear how all of you process your life and the art of juggling it all.

    Michelle, i totally agree with you. Moms can get caught up into thinking we have to do it all. I am the BIGGEST recovering Perfectionist/Everything In It’s Place Woman. But then I started realizing how much “having the house in order all the time” was taking from me. And who really cared anyways?

    Don’t get me wrong, I do need order to some degree. But I don’t need my house to look like Pottery Barn either. 🙂

    I have a postcard on my fridge that says “A Clean House is a Sign of a Wasted Life.”

    xoxo

  13. Jen says:

    I love this post and it spoke to me as well…very deeply. Michelle, I read the same article yesterday and I too found that I need to reprioritize the important factors in my life. My life is a completely different kind of crazy…but crazy none the less. Being single, I find myself having to hold onto my day job (Clinical Specialist for Bioness…cutting edge medical technology to help rehabilitate people with neurological injuries) b/c I can’t afford to lose the job/medical care/401K/other added benefits until I can get my photography business truly holding it’s own. The hardest part is that I am on the road (flying) 3-5 days a week. I swear I fly more than pilots! This leaves me with piles of laundry never getting done, a house that always feels like a mess, a yard that has gotten overgrown and I’ve gained weight from having to eat on the road and not have time to REALLY work out (or that I’ve become somewhat lazy at finding those moments). My weekends having become consumed with what I really love…photography…and shooting weddings and portraits sessions. I rarely blog about them all b/c of time constraints…but I want to. My friends…luckily I still have some… family and my boyfriend rarely get to see me. Time inevitably keeps going faster and faster and I feel like I’m accomplishing very little. Don’t get me wrong, my life is good and this isn’t a woah-is-me statement…but I do realize that ‘something’s got to change’ in order for me to really be doing what I love in life. Just hard to make that change.
    MeRa, I truly believe that your crazy, but wonderful, life is the norm and I love that you appreciate it. I would honestly love a crazy life such as yours. ONe day…I’m working on it.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I love, love love what you are saying. You put it beautifully into words. Sometimes chaos CAN be organized and thats how I like it too! I love the pase of keeping busy and getting a lot done while still feeling challenged and being creative. Love your work!

    Jennifer

  15. Carey says:

    78!?!? Are you kidding me!!??? What’s she drinking/eating/smoking/chewing/breathing??? I want some!
    She looks AMAZING for 60!

    Great post! But it was your fabulous Grandma that got me to post a comment & be a few minutes late at school pickup today! hee hee!

    ~Carey

  16. jeramy says:

    dang!!! you know i love these type of posts me ra. 🙂

    after about 10 minutes in my house, any one of my single or kid less (which is about the same thing) friends will look at me and ask….how do you do this? 🙂

    but for all the crazy, fast pace, stressful, non-stop, never ending shenanigans that make up ‘the sossaman’s’…there is an always sensed…always understood notion that there is peace and constant love inside the eye of the storm.

    kind of like that scene in ‘twister’ when helen hunt and bil paxton are on the ground in the very center of the tornado looking up….outside, people look at the twister in fear…but inside….it is silenced and calm. are you with me?….yeah…that’s my house. looks like a class 5 tornado from the outside…but seems peaceful on the inside. i’m sure some of you can relate.

    but you know…every time sharon and i talk about this…we come to the conclusion that we wouldn’t want it any other way. i guess we’ve figured out how we function.

    thanks for the play by play and the pics….and the post….take care. 🙂

  17. Genie says:

    Whoa, dude!! I just read your blog – you continue to amaze me – “The moment I start to compare, weeds sprout everywhere and choke out all peace.” No one could have said how I feel when I compare better. Comparison is one of the major killers of happiness for me. Thanks for saying it so clearly and loudly.

    BTW, if your grandma’s partying with you til 2am, what else could we expect from you? Go Grandma!!

    ANNUAL MARTINI PARTY!!!! Girl, I’ll have to just celebrate from where I am since I can’t be there, BIG WAH!!! Or eat more kale…hmmm let’s see, what would be better right now?

  18. Carrie says:

    Whenever I start to feel like my life is hectic I remind myself I like it that way. And if that doesn’t help me feel any better I remind myself that all my favorite tv shows are still on break, so what else would I possibly be doing instead. That seems to cheer me right up.

  19. Michelle says:

    Me again…here is something I see as a big problem. Moms opt out of the workforce because they want to be home with their kids OR childcare would be too expensive. A few years (or months) go by and they get a little, how shall we say..bored. We pick up a hobby like photography and hope to turn it into our “profession” with the plan to bring in enough money to pay some bills or at least cover all the new photography stuff we want. Here in lies the problem that I see time and time again. These women who choose to stay home with their kids are actually spending less quality time with them. They are trying to do 100 things at once and nothing is getting their full attention. I sometimes think my kids would get more of my undivided attention if I was working outside the home so that when I came home I could concentrate on them. But back to all of us aspiring photographers..how can we ensure we are not spinning our wheels, wasting time on not so important tasks and making some money (eventually). Me ra, you do a great job at dividing up your day and it is probably surprising to so many that you are not working all day every day. From the outside, you seem to be working smarter, not harder. But..I think there are so many moms who are working all day in between all the other tasks and do not necessarily have as much to show for it as they should. How do we change that??

  20. golightly says:

    First – LOVE Phantom!
    Second – would love to visit Pikes
    Third – thanks for the reference to the red kale juice, I’m going to try that!

    I like Michelle’s comment. I’m the person that hasn’t figured out the fine balance of working part time (at home and away) and being a full-time mom, then throwing the rebirth of an old love into the mix (photography) My husband works from home and owns a DJ business here in SoCal. I think he is an awesome MC (that’s his niche) and has some great DJs working for him. On the weekends he works outside the house. Our life isn’t “normal” either and I wouldn’t change it. But I have have been out of balance for a while – well since my 3-year-old came into the picture. Partly the pressure of doing the “mom-thing” right. Pottery Barn home, not here. But chaos (i.e too messy of house) makes me nuts.

    I will say that we started going to a new church a couple of years ago and in January we started going to a home-group. That has brought me much more peace. Amazing for me, God has to be in the center otherwise I spin out of control. I haven’t been content at the end of the day in the last few months, I haven’t felt happy at times; but I’m praying and trusting and passing that on to my son.

    My husband would love for me to get into photography, soak up all the learning I can and start my own business (or add onto his) Eek, overwhelming. I start to think, I’m not that good, I’m just another “mommy photographer-wannabe”, this field is too saturated (especially where I’m at) I live in SoCal…

    But how I love my husband for believing in me, eh?

    That makes me happy. That brings me peace. That makes me strong.

    Hmm, I better go do some more weeding in my garden.

  21. Denise says:

    I could tell by reading this that this post was gonna get a lot of comments! I feel like I’ve been in a tug of war between positive and negative. At the end of the day, I feel like the hours flew by and the day was wasted. I sit and think about what I DID do.

    ‘I cleaned the kitchen’ and a voice inside my head says ‘it’ll be dirty by morning again’.

    ‘I did the laundry’
    ‘the hamper is already half full’

    ‘I mopped the floor’
    ‘the dog already tracked mud all over it’

    Yes I love love love my son and Eric and we somehow have fun together despite all the stress that’s pressing in on us from every direction.

    I hope that more IS revealed to us soon – our next step – I didn’t know how much I could use a blog post like this until after I read it. Thanks MeRa.

  22. jennifer says:

    WOW – what an awesome post and what wonderful comments.

    MeRa you have a great way with words. You are gifted in so many areas, not just photography. I’m so thankful for your blog and blog readers 😉

    I can completely relate – busy, busy life – husband, 3 kids, work from home mom (just started photography biz), church, dance practice, ball practice, etc., etc., – just like many of you. It’s hard to find balance and not feel rushed all the time. I love what “golightly” said in her comment – “God has to be in the center otherwise I spin out of control” – so true!!
    That is what gives me peace at night – not knowing that I’m doing what I want to do, but knowing that I’m doing what God wants me to do. Some nights are more peaceful than others 🙂 still working on that.

    And Denise – I find myself saying the same things to myself (about the dishes and laundry). I try to remind myself about Colossians 3:23 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” – it’s still hard mopping that floor, but that verse helps me get through it with a better attitude 🙂

    Thanks again Me Ra for sharing – you so ROCK with your organized chaos 🙂

    I agree with Carey – your grandmother looks great!

  23. Julie says:

    Me Ra!!

    With the help of great friends, your words, and meditation/relaxation podcasts, I’m managing to enjoy going through a HUGE transition in life right now. For the first time in 9 years, I have 8 hours of silence M-F. Gwen started full-day kindergarten. Karen Buckley and I talked about “redesigning my life” now…the freedom is wonderful and I too find that the kids and I enjoy our evenings together in a totally different way after being apart. It’s really cool. At the same time, in the past six weeks I’ve had a “Me Ra” schedule, getting flown out for my first 2 out-of-state weddings!! I raised my prices (which I was afraid to do) and clients are calling, booking, and things are really starting to unfold in an amazing way! But with this brings of course new challenges, responsibilities, and fears to conquer. Which reminds me, I have to share the most awesome quote ever… “Worrying is basically praying for what you DON’T want to have happen.”

    Is that a mindblower or what!? Where you focus your attention and energy, is what manifests. Practicing putting yourself where you want to be, and you WILL get you there when you are ready, when it’s the perfect time for you. That’s what is so ironic…having gratitude for each moment of the journey you choose will soak you in joy and satisfaction that you imagined was only at the end.

    Now I’m going to clear that sink full of dishes…lol

  24. Elise says:

    Thank you Me Ra for always setting aside a wee bit of time for your blog readers. God speaks to my heart through the work you do and I am so encouraged. Thanks for being real! After reading all of the comments I would like to offer a bit of “advice” – just something that worked for me- and that is flylady.net. Simple routines that made the perfectionist in me relax and still kept my house from being an embarrassment should an unannounced visitor stop by.

    I have never felt “normal” ever since I was a kid. Isn’t it funny that most of us feel that way? Just like the Red Robin coaster I saved from a few years back, “You’re unique, just like everyone else.”

    Finally, I would add that Jesus is the only “normal” human. The rest of us are all screwed up, so we really should only look to him, not across at each other to compare.

    -elise