The one where I dropped ALL the balls

Motherhood has been described many a time as a juggling act. Or like spinning plates. Or like painting the Harbour Bridge, or not. Many times it feels like I just start to throw one ball up and I forget about the other – well you get the drift – it’s hard work, you have to focus the WHOLE time and it never stops, it is unrelenting.

This week has been shit. SHIT. SHIIIIIIIIIIIIITHOUSE. On the shit scale I would give this week a 9 (because I am sure that there could be shittier weeks so let’s keep a point up our sleeves). Some weeks can be bad – the kids are sick, or work is busy, or family dramas surround but you have your wits about you, you are well rested, or just more relaxed so the shit only ranks about a 6 or 7. Other weeks, such as this pearler, are SO shit that the emotional, physical and mental are all gone so the shit is even, well, shittier. Man I have said shit a lot. As I said, it’s been bad.
I won’t bore you with all the details as I mentioned some of them on Monday, but illness, lack of sleep and illness with a side of NO FUCKING SLEEP has made it one of the hardest I can remember. In a looooong time. I remember feeling a little this way last year when I was working 4 days a week and Rob was shooting I Rock and I was 8 months pregnant and doing everything and I lost my mind briefly, and this has been a close second. Last night at 12.37am or somewhere approximately around this time, I reached breaking point. I cried. I just cried because it was all too fucking hard. All of it. Harper was awake (again) and had a bleeding ear from her eczema and was agitated. Rob was sick, really sick, really, really sick with another bout of tonsillitis which renders him out of action completely, I had a sinus headache and Daisy woke from Harper’s crying. Anyone with kids would know this scene. The mother screaming at everyone/anyone at the injustice of it all. The mean comments aimed at my husband because I could and it made me feel better, the yelling at Daisy for waking (again) and yelling at the eczema gods for choosing our daughter. The whole nasty middle of the night, overtired parenting that can only occur in the hours between midnight at 5am. But eventually Daisy went back to sleep, Rob got back to bed, Harper went to sleep. Me? Not so much. I was thinking. Pondering. Thinking. Enough already. ENOUGH. We cannot go on like this. ENOUGH.
So. I made some choices. Some decisions. Things that have been up in the air and stressing me out for months now. We are not going to move house. We will stay here and Daisy will go to school around here. I will try and get Daisy into a proper preschool and out of daycare. I will do something about work. I will try and get Harper out of daycare. We will make this work.
Sure, I lost my shit (again) when I woke and Rob couldn’t get out of bed which meant that I had to take the girls to daycare for the drop off when I was meant to be in the office early. I tried not to get too upset when Harper cried when I handed her over to the carer, when Daisy had to be held down from the screaming of me leaving, or the no park when I got to work, sure, I still dropped all those spinning balls.
So. I got into the office and resigned from work. Well, I was talked down from the resignation ledge and will be taking 6 months leave without pay. I will take Harper out of daycare immediately and be a stay at home Mum. I will get Daisy into preschool 2 days a week and we will live in our little home. We will make this work. I finally bit the bullet and arranged an attempt to fix an ongoing problem with Daisy. I saw Harper’s paediatrician and finally feel like I have an action plan for the eczema and food allergies. We will make this work.

Action. Plan. Change.
These are big life changes. Big decisions. But so overdue. I have spent the last 2 months pretending that it was OK for me to have my 2 days at work. I love work. I love the work I do, the people I work with. The independence and money it brings me. Most importantly the sense of value that it brings me. I will try hard to work on how this change will make me feel. I don’t want there to be anger or resentment towards anyone for these changes. These were my decisions. And they were essential.
I have long ignored the fact that when it all comes down to it now. I am a mother. I never knew when I became pregnant 4 years ago just what I would become. What it meant. No one can tell you this. It’s not common to talk about how being a mother makes you feel. Not all that warm and fuzzy shit, but how it makes you feel. Feelings like anger. And resentment. And jealousy. And tiredness. And anything other than the person you think you are. Or were. And joy – oh my goodness the joy. The endless happiness. I have to acknowledge that I am a mother. I am needed. And depended on. And deeply loved. And admired. I am just a Mum. And my kids need me to be that. I need to stop fighting this and accept it. Embrace it. Sure I still need to be me. Just Beth. I still need to be a wife. A lover. An adult and a friend, but right now my most important job is for me to be a Mum. I need to be a better one. A more patient one. A less stressed one and stopping work will allow me to be that for the time being. Soon enough the girls will be grown up and I really don’t want to miss that. You only get that one time. And we will make it work. Somehow. It’s like the wonderful Quentin Bryce (our GG said) “Women can have it all. Just not at the same time.”
So. This is me. Beth Macdonald. Mother.


  1. Holy dooly! That is one powerful post. Good for you making such hard decisions – I bet you feel much better, just having decided that you’re going to simplify! Congrats and I look forward to hearing all about your change!

  2. Oh Beth. Big decisions, hard choices, but you’ve done it. You’ve come up with a plan that will work for you and your family. Well done! We’re having MAJOR behavior problems with Mr 5yo at the moment and I’m in the place where decisions need to be made but I don’t know the solution yet. You’re right, no one tells you this stuff when you get pregnant! It’s all so emotional! You’ve done the right thing. Well done.

  3. You haven’t dropped your balls. You’ve worked out which ones are worth catching.

    I went through a similar stage about 18 months ago. But the work thing whilst it offers some financial security and identity somewhat – it doesn’t work for everyone.

    I was/am ambitious – love my work – but I love my kids more and even my hubby who is missing the $$ more than me sees the benefits to our lives by me not working whist the girls are young.

    Work just doesn’t fit at this point and it’s not forever. They are only small once and apart from all the fluffy shit you want to spend your life coping, not enraged, overwhelmed and overall feeling like you’re doing a shit job at everything.

    Now you’re a SAHM (officially for 6 months at least) let’s make it a point to when you’re in your groove to meet up… K? xxx

  4. Wow Beth this post is going to touch so many people, i admire how you are brutally honest and you’ve pretty much touched on how alot of us are feeling, congratulations on having the guts to do something about it….i am inspired 🙂

  5. Wow, and I thought I had a shit week!
    Good on you for doing what you wanted! You’ll make it work!

  6. Oh Beth!

    Congratulations for your honesty hun.

    Everything will soon fall into place. And

    It might change the dynamics of your family a little, but you will have more time with the girls. And more time for yourself too.

    Abi had ezcema too, but it did get alot better when she hit the 12 month mark. Don’t be afraid to go back to the Dr. I went several times and tried lots of creams.

    I agree with Liss, they are only babies for such a short amount of time, then off to big school and then boom, they are 18!!

    PS: Not moving house will make SUCH a difference!!


  7. *stands and applauds *
    what an incredible 24 hours you’ve had. I have been thinking of you today and wondering how you’ve been going. It sounds like you’ve got a good plan in place. I truly hope you can see the light shining brightly at the end of the tunnel.

    Thank you for being so honest and showing that as wonderful as motherhood is, it’s not all Huggies commercials.

    I think you’ve made brave decisions that are right for you.


  8. You made me cry! It is so hard, right? So hard, but so great at the same time and these are SUCH HARD decisions. You have to make the right ones for your family and then find peace in the decisions and move forward.

    You are a great mum. A great wife. A great friend.

  9. Wow. This is the best blog post I have read in a long while. Seriously.

    I’m so sorry you’ve had such a shit week. I’m not even going to pretend that I know how you feel, but I seriously admire the way you’ve decided to scoop up all those spinning balls and create a lifestyle that will hopefully work better for you and your family. Who cares if you lost your shit?! The way you’ve picked yourself up is seriously something to admire.

    Great post. x

  10. I give you a standing ovation! I’m bursting with overwhelming feelings of support and understanding a MAMA POWER!
    What a HUGE week for you, and such a big decision. You’re right, you only get this one time to be with your young kids and help them grow. If you have the opportunity to be there for them, take it.
    As someone who got up in the night (after two very good nights sleep) and said “Fuck You Both!!” in response to my snoring husband and frequently waking baby, I can only imagine what mental state I’d be in if I’d had the same shite to deal with that you have lately.
    Thank you for writing this post and for putting some reality out there.
    And well done for keeping your shit together. Yeah, you lost it a little in the night, but overall, you’re really keeping it together.

  11. “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four … are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.” – James Patterson

    I love this quote. You need to do what works for you and yours. You will never regret this decision and the one you make will always be right in the long run. Keep your chin up and know that you have lots of us that are cheering you on and feeling the same frustrations. Thanks for sharing so much with us all. 🙂

  12. Hi Beth! stay at home Mum Beth!… wonderful post ~ obviously not all the shit that is going on, but that you can articulate exactly what goes on in this life of pre-school children. Seriously, I have no idea how people work and do this job, I couldn’t… I can’t even keep my shit together when this is the only job that I do {and I was a high-faluting-career-woman before kids with my shit so, so together before kids} the 24/7 nature of the job just takes up all of the energy that I have…

    I just know that this is going to work for you, and now that you ‘own’ it and have started making those needed decisions you will go from strengh-to-strength AND your family will love you so much for doing this… all power to you Beth, I hope that the waters get calmer soon. Jo x

  13. This post easily sums up why you’re such an amazing person. I feel quite speechless after reading such a beautifully written and honest post and just so proud of you.

    Just because we can juggle all this stuff doesn’t mean we should. I’m in awe that you’ve set all this in place to move your life to where you want it to be.

    Wow, just a great, big wow. xx

  14. That’s the best news ever… well done, enjoy all the wonderful time with your family… I have no doubt that you will look back and be so glad you took this time. So many people you ask about the most enjoyable times of their life and they often reflect on this time… when the kids are young and you are going to be there to really soak it all up. Love that quote from the GC… I have that written down to remind me that balance is possible…

  15. Anonymous says

    Just want to let you all know how proud I am of my wife. This blog allows a small window into who she is as a person. She is eternally selfless, sometimes too much so. She is a fantastic and dedicated mother, full of fun and love. But she is also honest and real and at times raw. And don’t get me started on how good a wife she is.
    As many of you would know it is so very tough to know what the “right” thing to do is sometimes. It is hard to not look outside your own circumstances and judge yourself against what other people are doing and against what ‘society’ dictates. Sometimes the only answers come from a bit of introspection and doing what works for you and your circumstances. While these decisions will no doubt throw up their own challenges I have no doubt that Beth will embrace them and flourish. And that can only help our little family flourish too.

    I also wanted to thank everyone who stops by here and shows such great support to Bethy. You have no idea how much she appreciates it. In the same way that her posts might help you not feel so alone, your support helps her feel the same.

    Beth’s Hubby.

  16. mother of juggling girl says

    Being “just a mum” is what I consider to be the greatest gift you can give your children.
    I’m very proud of you for so many things, but mostly your honesty, for being real, and always acting on your instincts.
    That quote from James Patterson, (thankyou bugadventures) is truly exceptional.
    Mostly, I want to thank each of your contributors for the honesty and support they have given to you.
    This safety net you have surrounding you just never existed for me…and I think you should all acknowledge what a wonderful sisterhood the world of blogging provides. You’re all very special in my eyes…and doing a wonderful job!!!Bless you x

  17. It is really encouraging to see someone recognize what is truly important and put it first! Way to go!

  18. Beth, what a great post. I have had bad days like this too. It’s good to let it out. I cried when I saw the comment from your husband. How wonderful. My husband said to me today that my “beanie” I was knitting was not his priority. What an ass but I give him credit for letting me do it and he looked after the baby while I finished it. I hope you get some good decisions working out for you and your family soon. A small break is probably is just what is needed. Good luck.

  19. The dreaded M-I-L couldn’t be more proud of you and your hubby. You are wonderful parents and a wonderful couple. Be proud of your hard decision. As your mother said, you are fortunate to have so many to support you here and to appreciate your honesty. We all love you xxx

  20. crying….

    It is hard. You sound like you’re thinking about the right thing for you and your family and making positive choices – always to be encouraged.

    thanks for sharing.

  21. I was nodding every step of the way on this post. I remember very clearly the day I resigned from my full time job to stay home with my offspring We had 2 then, one three year old and one eighteen month old. We sold our home and moved to a smaller one. We made it work. And in that time I changed career paths and I work from home. I couldn’t be happier. And you will be too. BRILLIANT POST.

  22. Wow Beth, what a raw and honest post. And yes, there is no primer for motherhood that tell us all this, is there? It can be so difficult trying to weigh what’s right and tease out all the if’s and but’s. Congratulations on making a difficult decision and articulating your struggle and feelings so honestly and potently.

  23. Hope everything is going much better a few weeks on.

    And yep, some weeks are just shit. How are you enjoying being a SAHM?

  24. God! I hear you with the resentment and the tiredness and the anger. Thank you for putting it out there.

    My youngest daughter has eczema too. The sleep deprivation is driving me up the wall. We’re booked to see another specialist next month. Sigh.

    And your daughter, how’s her eczema, has it improved?

  25. WOW! Brave you! Tell me, how is it all going? I just want to say GOOD ON YOU!

  26. Hi Beth,

    I’ve come in late to the party as I’m just looking at the blog carnival at Wanderlust now. This is also the first post of yours I’ve read.

    I clung to every word and I can absolutely identify with it. Although I am still working part-time I made a decision around this time last year that I would only do work that took me out of the house one day a week. It means foregoing some things we had planned and actually means we have to do some pretty major refinancing shortly in order to consider having more kids and also do what we need to do. With a husband who works incredibly long hours there is just no other way our family can function as a unit. I found it hard not to see myself as a “failure” somehow in this scenario but you and Quentin Bryce are right – we can have it all, just not at once. Thank you for your brave and insightful post! xo

  27. Thank you for sharing such a personal and powerful post. Good for you for creating your own happy ending as I read on about what happens next. Leaving city living stress for a beautiful home in the country – you’re living my dream!

  28. Hi Beth, I found ur blog through a friend of mine Holly from GGMH and have to say I am really enjoying reading through some of you’re posts. I had to do a similar thing with work, it just wasn’t working out with have 2 kids. More stress then its worth, cant wait to read more : )
    Amba @ Team Mummy

  29. Hi Beth, just got here from A Beach Cottage. This post is so so so brilliant for the fact this it is real life. I can so understand all the feelings you mentioned. Been there. done that. Have come a little way out the other end now, my kids are 12 and 8 but the baby years are tough. Well done you for making those hard decisions. I am enjoying now while I can before the teen years strike!!!

  30. Beth I don’t know how I haven’t read this before I thought I’d read your whole blog… I’m at work with tears running down my face. I’ve just rejoined the full time work force after being at home part time for 12 years… its crazy I miss my kids, but I’m making it work… I think – redundancy does that to you, makes you make the hard choices. I love how this post really tells you how Mothers have hard choices to make.

  31. So glad that you re-posted this as I’m a new reader to your blog. Wow, I have serious blogging envy – you are one very talented woman. This post is so genuine, so real, so heartfelt. I’ve often pondered whether woman can have it all, and yep I always come back to yes, but not all at once. I’m on maternity leave at the moment with my second child (9 months) and due to go back soon and worried about how it is all going to pan out. I quite happily put my first into childcare and worked 4 days but with this one I just feel different about it all. I will wait and see but if I am dropping all the balls and struggling, I will take inspiration from you and make some big decisions and I know that being mum will come first and I will embrace it as best I can.


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