“I don’t know how you do it!” If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words, I could actually hire someone to help me do it. Or hire someone to do it for me and then I could lay in my bed and read (#goals). I heard these words again this week and I find them oh-so irritating. Because let’s be real: A) You aren’t actually impressed with what I’m doing and B) You don’t really want to know how it’s done.
Welcome to my latest rant!
At best “I don’t know how you do it!” is just one of those things that people spit out when they really don’t have anything to say, but feel the need to talk anyway. As a lifelong introvert, I particularly dislike this kind of happy horse shit and fervently wish that people would stop polluting the air with meaningless words (yes, I’m also a bit of an asshole). It’s much like “You’ve got your hands full!” or “Is it hot enough for you?” or “How about that exciting sportsball whatever?” (not an actual thing, just what sports-talk sounds like to me). I do understand the need for human connection, so I will try not to act like an asshole when I hear these things in their benign, friendly tones, and will probably just nod vaguely and move on with my life. You’re welcome.
At worst, “I don’t know how you do it!” has a little snotty tone to it that betrays the not-very-well hidden message of “Your life sounds so shitty to me. Glad I’m not you!” I’ve received way too much of this in the past 4 years, what with my surprise divorce and years of piloting a hideously ugly minivan, not to mention the constant presence of multiple boychildren, who belong to me and are always wilding nearby. You’d think I’d be used to it, but much like those situations where people tell you that you “look tired” when they really mean that you look ugly or disheveled to to them, IT GRATES. I get that “tired” one a lot too, because I’m a single parent in my 40s and hell yes I’m tired. I usually just respond with, “I AM tired, thanks so much for noticing!” and raise my coffee cup to the asshole who said it, because really? Who doesn’t know they are tired? Who needs it pointed out? Nobody, that’s who.
I suppose “I don’t know how you do it!” is a bit better than “You look tired!” because faux admiration is surely better than faux concern. But honestly they both suck. Especially when said with a smug smile and little headshake. Yeah, I saw that. Thanks!
I guess it’s possible that some people are actually wondering how I accomplish some of the unremarkable things in my life. Well I have answers to some of the “I don’t know how you…” comments I’ve heard recently. Here you go:
I don’t know how you do that long-ish and trafficky commute to your job with the very inflexible schedule EVERY weekday! I sure couldn’t do that!
Answer: Oh I bet you could do it, if you had the motivation of it being the only means of your getting health insurance and the paycheck that provides food and a home for you and your children. And even though I do not love being in the car for 45 minutes in the morning and an hour at night to go 11 damn miles, it’s actually super easy to do. I just get in the car (no longer a minivan!!) and put on a podcast like My Favorite Murder or a sweet (possibly yacht rock) playlist and then I drive while trying not to hit anything or swear too obviously at the other commuters until I get to work. Then I do it again at 5.
I don’t know how you ran that half marathon! Who has time to train? Plus running is so boring…especially on a treadmill. And aren’t you worried about your knees?
Answer: Running isn’t for everyone, but I love the way it makes me feel wrung out and happy and way less crazy. I fit it in to my already packed schedule, because being less crazy is a high priority for me. So I turn down other things or get up really early in order to do it. Bonus: the effects of running have (so far) kept me from throwing things at annoying people who tell me I look tired or ask me stupid questions while criticizing my choice of hobby. It’s a win/win for society! The actual doing it is a deceptively simple process of getting up out of a seated position, putting on running clothes and shoes and moving forward while listening to another awesome playlist that I compiled in my head during my long-ass commute. My knees seem to be holding up fine. I am not worried about them.
I don’t know how you handle parenting your three crazy sons!
OK, this one may be legit, because my children are nutsy and loud and they all talk at once and want my personalized attention at all times. They also never walk when they can roll, flip or climb something and jump off of it and getting anywhere with them is exhausting and probably much like herding cats.
Answer: I’m not very good at it. That’s why I look tired. Having three kids was not the smartest move for my temperament and if I’d known that I’d be alone with them most of the time and that they’d all be energetic boys, I might have rethought the whole endeavor. But I’m lucky that I didn’t know what my future would hold, because I adore them in all their craziness. They are truly my life’s best reasons. I may sometimes look like I’m not extra thrilled with it, but that is because I am so damn tired all the damn time. But it’s good. We’re all doing just fine.
And that’s the point of my rant. My life, while not everyone’s cup of tea, is very good and I’m fairly happy. Nobody really needs to know how I do it. I just do it, because it’s what needs to be done and who cares? It all works for me. Everybody has things in their life that they don’t particularly enjoy and that other people would find distasteful or downright horrifying. But they get them done because that’s what they need to do to make their lives work. If you haven’t had to make the best of some shitty situations recently, that’s great! But don’t get too smug, because life is unpredictable.
If you think that someone’s life looks unpleasant, you do not need to let them know. If you must say something, you could try to be helpful with “This seems hard, is it? Can I help in some way?” Or if you are truly impressed with the way someone is handling the challenges in their life you could give them some encouragement like “You are doing a great job!” or “I admire the way you did that.” Those are nice things to hear. Or you could send them a lovely Starbucks gift card! Tired people love those.
Thank you for reading my rant.