I often say that the hardest part of my world is juggling logistics. It’s not getting my work done or being a mother; it’s juggling the two without missing a work deadline, leaving a child behind or forgetting a birthday present while pretending to be sane. I make very detailed plans for each day and if one thing goes wrong, the house of cards will fall. Here’s what happens when things go wrong:
This is what my morning plan was (with a few small edits):
- 5:45 am Wake up (aka check email on my phone, look for meetings changes and check Facebook to see whose birthday I forgot)
- 6:00 am Begrudgingly get out of bed (Daylight savings is killing me)
- 6:00 –
6:457:00 Shower and get dressedPut out work dire drills that I was too tired to deal with the night before (Daily showers are a luxury, so are showers with privacy) 6:45 – 7:007:00-7:05 Get the kids up with loving tones and positive affirmationStart with kisses and loving tones, realize it is fruitless, switch to mommy voice and physically drag the kids out of their warm beds that I desperately want to climb into
- 7:05 – 7:30 Make breakfast, make lunches, physically dress my daughter to speed things up, attempt to clean-up messes from these activities
- 7:30-7:50 Drive carpool to school
- 7:50-9:00 Gym (To keep this mamma sane!)
- 9:00-11:00 Buy new shorts for son’s lacrosse game, food for school fundraiser, two birthday gifts and hair barrettes. List requires three different stores
- 11:00 – 4:30 – Cram in my full time job in 5.5 hours since the husband is out of the country on business travel (but I think he is on all expense paid break from Crazyville) and the nanny leaves at 4:30
This was a doable day, until things went wrong…
As I pulled out of the garage to drive the kids to school, I realized it was raining. This meant after school sports would be cancelled and carpools jumbled. (Note in my list above I was not picking up any kids from school) As I pulled up to pick up the first carpool kid, I asked my son if he had his phone so that I could text him the new plan once I mooched off my village to make a new one. Today he had no phone. His excuse was since I had taken video games away for the week, he assumed he wasn’t supposed to bring his phone (aka he saw no purpose in having it with him).
After picking up the first kid, we went back home to get the phone. My son runs in and is back in under a minute (love that fast kid!). But if you know the story “If You Give a Cat A Cupcake”, well that is actually the story of my life. As I put the car in reverse, my daughter says, if we’re getting brother’s phone, than I want my umbrella. I will spare you the next 5 minutes of your life where she tells her brother, with conviction, where her umbrella
is not. 6 gray hairs later, we’re en route to the next pick up. As I drive, I congratulate myself that because we leave earlier enough, this little detour will not make the kids late for school. That’s when the silly putty really hits the fan-
Rainy day means the kids eat inside. Which means no peanut butter in lunches.
You already know what I packed my son for lunch, right?
At that moment, my son was carrying the one thing the teacher has forbidden due to severe allergies in the class, the one thing that makes me an insensitive, absent-minded and dangerous parent, yet the ONLY source of protein my son will eat that does not require a heating element – the dreaded PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH!
I immediately start reworking the morning in my head to make time to swap out his lunch before lunch time (otherwise known as the looming hour of parental shame). I tell my son not to open his Tupperware of non-weather checking, lazy lunch-making mommy shame and that I will bring him something else in time (or, I thought, I will simply head for the border).
I pick up the final kid, beg for afternoon carpool help and
speed off drive with caution based on inclement weather.
I drop the kids and the umbrella off and head to the gym to think through this day on a treadmill and because it is the closet place to get water since I have had no breakfast (I really wanted to order the fitness omelet at the gym but who has time for that when you need to run errands and make the lunch swap before I am called into the principal’s office?!).
While on the treadmill at a slower pace than normal (because frankly my heart was already racing and the adrenaline was burning my water breakfast) I
calmly desperately decide that I would have to combine errands and attempt a one stop shop. So I set off for Target of course, thinking it would be my salvation.
They have birthday gifts, hair barrettes, food and some version of athletic shorts. But as I look through the pocketless shorts (because you can’t have boys pants’ing each other on the Lacrosse field) I realize I am doomed. They simply won’t work. If I try to make them work, I will be driving to the sporting goods store the night before the game with two tired children in tow. I’d rather be called into the principal’s office about the sandwich. The sporting goods store requires jumping on the freeway in rush hour. It also means that I can’t buy the groceries, because I want them to stay cold. I relied on my trusty motto of wisdom and grace when faced with a daunting logistical situation – “F-IT” (Which is short for just go and deal with the next problem when it hits.)
I checkout with barrettes and questionable birthday gifts and make record time to the sporting goods store, buy several pairs of shorts that I say I will return later, but won’t, and as I am checking out the next problem hits-
My cleaning lady calls to say she is at my house – an hour early. (Now I realize this is a first world problem and I am very fortunate for all of my problems, but again, this post is about logistics, not if I am deserving of sympathy or an involuntary psychiatric hold.) I barrel back towards home and the logistical nuances start piling un. My son’s sheets are still in the dryer, I have left clean laundry on the dining room table (that they need to dust, decrumbed and eradicate peanut butter residue from), I can’t stop at the grocery store that I will drive right by, I still have to do a lunch swap. It’s 10:00 and I have an 11:00 conference call for work. At this point, I am counting the drive home as additional cardio.
I race in, let the cleaning lady in and flip on the oven to make a more appropriate lunch for my son (aka frozen mini tacos in a thermos). I decide I’ll swing by the grocery store on my way home from my son’s school and then the day will be back on track (minus the lack of shower). But it’s 10:18 and I have a conference call in 42 minutes!
Now at this point I contemplate abandoning operation lunch swap, I could call the school, explain what happened and ask them to put my son in isolation to get his protein fix. But some of those kids with peanut allergies are my friends’ children. I strive to be a model supporter of peanut allergies. I take extra precautions when having peanut allergy kids over, because I really care and don’t want to be the cause of any epi-pen parties. I also can’t take away my ten year old son’s rainy day fun of Heads Up Seven Up (Do they still even lay that???) and have him sent to school Siberia. So I could just skip the grocery store and deal with that logistic later. But that plan had already backfired a few times, so I put an end to the logistical juggle-
I declined the conference call. Some days work must come first, but sometimes I have to surrender to the chaos of life and know when I have been beat.
I calmly drove to school and when I walked in the office, my son’s teacher was standing there. I told her why I had come and asked if she wanted a PB&J for lunch. She said while my trip wasn’t necessary, she appreciated me taking the welfare of the other students seriously. There were a few jokes about the weatherman and then I headed to the classroom to make the swap. Because it was recess, I then went to the playground and told my son the new carpool plan, told him he had a new lunch and walked away feeling more at ease.
From school I went to the grocery store and contemplated one more errand, but decided it was time to head home and try to catch the last part of my work call.
When I arrived home, I raced to my computer to login and saw that the call had been cancelled. In all my logistical juggling I had missed that email. Now I had time to make my first meal of the day. And you know what they say-
If you give a mom a meal, she is going to want a shower to go with it.
No, I am not announcing my intention to quit blogging. After a 2+ year unannounced sabbatical, that would just be silly. And anti-climatic. And a short-post.
But there are several things I am thinking about quitting (or not quitting) and I promised a friend that I would stop blogging in my head, so this post is for her!
Things I Am Quitting
- Wearing workout clothes – I rarely workout these days, pajamas make more sense, but I will change them in the morning… sometimes.
- Dieting – Life is stressful, food helps. If I diet I will be more cranky and crazy than I am now. That’s not good for anyone.
- Exercising – If I am in my pajamas and busy eating, how could I possibly workout?
- Playdates – Because my definition of playdate is sending the kids out the door in hopes that they find a neighbor. Because I suck at scheduling them and then feel guilty. The only exception is when someone asks for my help (which I am truly happy to do) or my kids plan one while I am standing there (very effective and requires less back and forth texting). I may wear a short to school that says “I am happy to have your kids over. Put them in my car instead of waiting for me to offer” (good thing I am stopping the diet and exercise, that’s a lot for one shirt).
- Saying tomorrow is a new day – tomorrow will be a list of things I should have done today in addition to tomorrow’s to-dos. Tomorrow will taunt me and make me miss today. Tomorrow is a jerk.
- Pretending I know how to juggle. If I do one thing in my life well, the others suffer. I don’t know how to balance it and be sane, which leads me to…
- Sanity – it is over-rated and so damn hard to achieve.
Things I Am Not Quitting
- Self-deprecating humor – If I say it before someone else it doesn’t hurt so bad. Especially useful at work, where I do a ‘Daily F*&% Ups Recap’. With so much on my plate, things are starting to fray like a bad pair of 80’s denim cut-offs
- Drinking – Wine and Vodka (no not mixed together… usually…) keeps the men with the nice white coat from putting me in the nice padded room.
- Wishing I could write more – Because it’s healthier than wine and vodka.
- Remembering that many people are chasing that elusive balance. Balance is like an Elvis sighting, they happen from time to time, but aren’t believable.
- My job –
Because it fulfills meit pays the bills. As soon as I find the money tree in my backyard, I will have a whole new blog. For now, I just have a lot of holes in my backyard – watch your step.
- Swearing – It’s cathartic.
- Friends – I have a 60+hour per week job and 2 kids in school and sports. I only have help four hours per week. I don’t see any of my amazing friends as much as I’d like, but knowing they exist is much better than imaginary friends.
- My husband and kids – the three most amazing blessings God could give me. They make everything worth it (although often contribute to my insanity)
- Recognizing the humor in life’s challenges. I can’t commit to laughing, but I will observe said humor with a smug look on my face.
What are you quitting or not quitting?
I was on the phone with a friend last week and she was frustrated. Her husband was trying to help out by making bacon, but he was burning it. I teased her by saying, you can’t ask him to be more helpful and then criticize him when he tries. She disagreed. :)
This sparked a conversation of the “life rules”. The ones that we want others to follow, but that we occasionally want to break, such as ‘don’t ask for help then criticize it’. So I have decided to publish in writing a “new” set of life rules to use at your discretion when you need life to work in your favor:
- Life IS fair. This means that if something is unfair, you have the right to be upset, cranky and consume chocolate and wine.
- You CAN have your cake and eat it too. Especially if you wash it down with wine.
- You CAN look a gift horse in the mouth. If you don’t like the gift or the strings attached to it.
- Treats others as you would like to treat them. Especially when you’re mad at them, they deserve it or you have run out of chocolate and wine.
- A penny saved is a penny wasted… if there is a sale on shoes!
- Good things come to those who DON’T wait. Carpe diem baby, make things happen, take action!
- If you want something done, don’t give it to a busy person. I am a busy person and can’t handle anymore. Why should the people who aren’t busy get a pass?
And a few that are perfect just the way they are…
- Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – Two words: Lorena Bobbit.
- Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die – Even if we know we will live for years, eat, drink and be merry!
- Tomorrow is another day – which means I have another opportunity to
be a better momdemonstrate that I am enough.
What other life rules do you love or need revised?
To all of my friends, in-persona nd virtual, who help this mommy stay more balanced than not:
When you listen, I keep my sanity.
When you laugh, my heart smiles.
When you show support, I survive.
When you rant, I agree.
When you’re lost, I hold the compass.
When you’re ready to pull it together, I help gather the pieces.
When you have a great day, I am happy.
When you interrupt, I am glad you can relate.
When you’re sad, I am heartbroken.
When you triumph, I am not surprised.
When you walk out of the room, I steal a sip of your wine!
If their library books are overdue,
If you’re shelling out the dough for soccer, ballet and Tai Kwon Do,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
If CPS knows what your address is,
If you bribe to keep them quiet and lie to avoid a riot,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
If homemade gifts have made you cry,
If you wouldn’t trade it all for a maid and the Taj Mahal,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
If you know how lucky you are, to raise your little stars,
If you’re a mommy and you know it,
My husband and I went together to drop my daughter off at preschool last Friday. We don’t typically go together, but it was the end of a long week and we thought it would be fun. As we were walking back to our car, one of the other moms stopped us as she was walking in.
“You two are so cute, coming together! I don’t know how you do it, you both work full-time, but you’re always smiling, you’re very involved with your sweet kids and I can only imagine that your house is amazing. And you, Paige, look great”. My husband I both started laughing in disbelief. I glanced down at my short, average body and glanced back at her tall slender frame and thought she must usually wear glasses.
“Just hide in my house for a day and you’ll see why I always say, ‘don’t look behind the curtain’. You’ll hear me yelling, you’ll see the messes and you’ll figure out that I am crazy, but thank you, you are very kind”, I said as we headed to the car.
That brief interaction sent me into a tail spin. I started mentally listing, by category, all of my faults and short comings:
Positive and Smiling?
- I typically only use the F word when I am upset. I use the F word daily, multiple times per day.
- My best friend thinks I should pay her as much as I pay my therapist.
- When it comes to parenting, I have been asked to write a book… on what not to do!
- If the kitchen cabinets aren’t re-done soon, the house may be condemned
- There is always mold in my shower!
- I am better at math than decorating, and I barely passed high school math.
This list continued as I walked back into the house. By the time I sat down to my computer to work. I was on the edge of a melt down. I felt like a fake. How could this high energy, fit, sweet mom be praising me?! I decided to write this blog post on how upset I was to be given praise that I didn’t deserve.
Then the most magical thing happened…
Before I could start this post, I checked my email. In my inbox was a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Gardner. The post was entitled, ‘Today Call me Enough’, as she was guest posting on the blog, “Just Be Enough“. Hello?! Before you even visit the blog, which you should, the title should be smacking you in the face – it left a big nasty red mark on my cheek! Here’s the magical part… I read it and stopped making my ‘why that sweet mom is crazy and I don’t have it together’ list.
I have decided the appropriate response to the sweet mom at preschool is thank you.
Thank you for recognizing that I work full-time but make parenting my priority. Thank you for pointing out, when I couldn’t see it, that I do a pretty damn good job of juggling it all most of the time. Thanks for not expecting me to be perfect, even though I sometimes am crazy enough to expect that of myself. I have tons of help from my husband and others, but I do the best I can. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough.
It’s interesting, I have no trouble listing my failures and flaws on this blog. I use humor to mask the negative feelings, but at the end of the day, I am comfortable being truthful if it helps others feel “normal”. It’s much harder for me to share my accomplishments and pride. I thought about creating a second list of all the great things I do, but find it too hard to “brag”.
Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative instead of celebrating the positive? I always push friends and family to celebrate their strengths, I tell them not to be so hard on themselves. I marvel at their greatness, but I am relentless in measuring myself. I think many of us fall into this camp. We push ourselves so hard to be perfect, to succeed and ultimately just drive ourselves crazy… or to drink… or to chocolate.
Since Friday, when I have felt ambition or perfectionism getting the best of me and when I set my intention at yoga on Saturday, it was simply, “Just Be Enough” and you know what, I already am. On the days when I’m ‘not enough’ or ‘slightly off balance’, it’s still enough, but with extra amusement.
Do you want to do something brave? Do you want to help me be brave? Comment on this post with one of your strengths or one proud moment. Did you make an amazing dinner? Did you rock the project at work? Did you finally catch up on your laundry (at least for one day)? Did you get some quality time with your kids?
Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for being amazing just the way you are.
When my oldest son was 6 months old, I had to go back to work and we put him in an in-home daycare. Pause as I think of the weeks of tears I shed at this tough decision. In order to limit his time in daycare, I would go to work early and get off early, while my husband would keep later hours. My husband would drop him off at 9:00 in the morning and I would pick him up at 4:00 in the afternoon. This was our routine. I like routine. I need routine. Without routine, things get… messed up. I am eloquent, aren’t I?
On my husband’s first business trip post-baby, we had to adjust the routine. I would go to work a little later, drop my son off and still go back to pick him up.
The first morning started so smoothly. I set my alarm early to allow time to feed him, change him into a onsie that looked just like the onsie he slept in, but was clean, and still get myself ready for work. It was a little cold out, so being a model new mother, I added a pair of socks with adorable bears that rattled.
I loaded him in the car, carefully buckled his 5 point harness (these days I pull out of the driveway like a bat out of hell, yelling, are you buckled!?) and headed out. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I saw a couple of neighbors out jogging. That made me smile. No, not because I was proud of them or because I love to run, but because I thought better you than me suckers. Then I frowned, realizing the joke was on me, that they were fit and I was… a new mom. I realize some new moms have babies, then look like Giselle two weeks later. I was not that mom! I was the one who was so enraptured with my new baby that my self-identity no longer mattered. I thought I would never care about hair, make up or clothes again. Okay, I still don’t but I pretend to. Or vice versa. Not sure.
Anyways, I continue driving thinking about how Dr. Spock would be so proud of my newly acquired parenting skills. I’m nursing, I’m pumping, I decorated with primary colors, I…
What is that noise?!
Oh my gosh! The rattle of my sons socks…
I forgot I was taking him to daycare. I was halfway to work on autopilot.
What would have happened if I hadn’t heard the socks? Would I have parked to car and gone into the office? Would I have been one of those mothers on the news? I am thankful that I never found out. I am also proud of myself for shredding the post-it-note that said ‘Don’t forget the baby’ that was taped to my steering wheel, before my husband returned.
Secretly, when I see one of those mothers on the news who forgot about their kid, I think to myself, shame one you, but I feel ya sister!
What have you done that was, or almost was, newsworthy?