I’m busy. I’m not complaining – I’m really not. Because there is so much in my life, and I love that. I love having three children, I love having a husband. I love writing. I love reading too. But my life is incredibly chaotic and sometimes I get totally overwhelmed.
For example – last Saturday. I got up bright and early, around six thirty. Marc had to work, and Jessie had religious school. I got her into the shower, got Marc up, and got the little ones breakfast. Jessie announced at 8:15 that she had to be at the synagogue by 8:30 instead of nine, so we rush, rush, rushed and got her out of the house. Marc came with me to drop off, fortunately my aunt (who’s been staying with us for the weekend) was still there, so I could leave the two little ones. We got to the synagogue, only to realize that she actually didn’t need to be there until nine thirty, but I dropped her off with early and then brought Marc down to Shrewsbury to drop him off at work. I rushed back to the synagogue, watched her in services for about a half hour or so, and then dashed home, grabbed the two little ones and my aunt. Dropped her off at her presentation/meeting thing she had, and brought Julie and Sam back to the synagogue. We went to the preschool service, stayed for the kiddush afterwards, and then dropped Sam off at Harrison’s house for a playdate. Drove back across Worcester to go to Jessie’s parent observation day at dance class, met my mother in law there, and then I stopped and got the girls frozen yogurt and me some much needed coffee. We went to the NOFA conference, and then back to pick up my aunt. I got home, threw some dinner towards the girls and then went to go grocery shopping and pick up Marc. Got home, finally, and put Julie to bed, set up Jessie in front of the figure skating while Marc and Skip (who had THANK GOODNESS come over to watch the game, saving me a trip to pick up Sam), and the boys watched the Patriots. I spent the next two hours or so trying to write the article for the telegram before finally trudging off to bed.
Sunday was better, but still crazy busy. Yesterday was a frantic mad rush, I spent the time while the older two were in school trying to write and catch up on emails and then was busy, busy, busy after school, picking up Sam, dropping him off here, taking Jessie to Target to do some much needed clothes shopping, and then back to religious school. Went grocery shopping and then back to pick up, finally making it home just in time to eat, teach Jessie how to do fractions and and then put the rest of the kids to bed. Today’s not a lot different, after school activities and parent/teacher conferences…
But the downside to all of this is that my poor house is in constant shambles. My to-do list is getting bigger and bigger and I’m feeling more and more… like I’m just spinning around and not getting anything actually accomplished. I need to be like a lighthouse. Steady. Unaffected by the chaos. And learning to take what I need, in order to maintain that level of calm, of order. One of my husband’s favorite analogy is of the parent in a plane crash – put on your own oxygen mask first, because if you can’t breathe, you can’t help anyone else. But I never remember my own oxygen mask, and I keep thinking I’ll just do this one thing (whatever that one thing is) really quick and then take care of myself. And the laundry pile keeps getting bigger and the counters get more and more cluttered, and the pile of toys under the dining room table (why does Julie do that???) gets larger and larger.
So then I freak out, yelling at everyone because I’m BUSY and don’t have time to clean, and why can’t someone else occasionally put the shoes away? Which helps nobody – because I’m not actually solving anything – I’m not giving them the tools they need to help, like clear cut expectations on what needs to be done, like telling Jessie that she’s going to be doing her own laundry and explaining to Sam that the playroom is his responsibility. I’m just creating more chaos for everyone, including myself.
There has to be a better way. Because I love my life, I don’t want to cut down on my activity level. I don’t want to cut down on the kids’ either, Jessie loves dance and Hebrew and girl scouts – and let’s be honest, it’s not going to get any slower. Right now, Sam has very little extracurricular stuff, and Julie has none. That’s going to change as they get bigger. I have to find a way to keep my center, to be able to be that lighthouse and not swirl around in the storm with them. Not a perfect analogy, I know, but that’s where I am. Especially because I’m trying to carve out time to write, and that’s next to impossible with everything else I’ve got going on.
So today, I’m focusing on figuring out what I need, in order for myself to feel as though I’m centered and calm. A house that’s mostly clean is a huge factor. I don’t need perfection, but clean counters, dishwasher running and laundry done (folded might be too lofty a goal). I need reading time like I need to breathe, and I’m taking enough time for that. So I’m going to leave a little early to go get my Julie and have her parent/teacher conference, and get a hot cocoa and sit in the car and read. Alone. I also might stop sleeping – because if I could get up a couple of hours early, I could get a whole lot of writing done.