What does your Perfect Ten kind of day look like? Check out my post over at North Phoenix Moms Blog and find out about mine…
When I started The Goon Room, I wrote to vent. I was a new stay at home mom and frankly, I was losing my mind. I didn’t see anyone writing about how hard this mother thing was and I needed to get my thoughts out in the hopes that someone would relate.
As the years went on, I wrote with the goal of turning The Goon Room into a source of income. I wanted to write and get paid to do it. I cautiously sought out sponsors and tried to write things I thought someone would want to sponsor. But when I looked back over past posts, I realized the blog had become this sweet record of our lives. It was the happy times, the rough times, pictures, tears, smiles and it was awesome. Who was going to pay me to write about myself? No one. And I realized I was happy with that.
Over the last year, I slowly began to seek out how to become a freelance writer. I talked with an acquaintance who is a mom blogger / freelance writer who gets published AND paid. She turned me to the woman who taught her the ins and outs of the writing world. Despite being in the middle of selling two houses, buying another and the endless end-of-the-school-year parties, graduations, and other hullabaloo, I reached out to the mentor and inquired about her online freelance writing course on getting published. She was incredibly sweet and got back to me immediately with three options on a course.
And then the aforementioned shenanigans got to me.
Her response is still sitting in my in box.
I leave it there because it’s presence irritates the shit out of me. It’s a reminder, every day, that I didn’t follow up. That I didn’t take that next step to do what I want to do. That lack of time is always going to be an excuse. So why not now? I worry about not being able to make the time to be creative and or not having the time when I have the words to write – thus resulting in sub par work. That would be the worst. I don’t want to do a crappy job. I want to do a really really really good job. Which is why I’ve been putting it off.
And then, sometimes God says “yeah yeah, that’s nice. I’m handing you an opportunity and if you don’t take it, you might as well delete that damn email ’cause this isn’t happening”. (sometimes God swears, yes?).
Because I’m really good at putting our family’s needs and work’s needs and the house’s needs ahead of mine. Force feeding is often the only way I’m comfortable switching gears. And that pressure came in the form of another email. An email from a friend asking if I would be willing to do some work on a professional biography, etc for their family business. It was the perfect way to get my feet wet. And it’s been incredibly enjoyable and satisfying.
I write this now, a little scared to put it out there, but my displeasure with failure will hopefully hold me accountable, that I will return the mentor’s email. It will be my 2016 goal to type those words of explanation and apology and then dive into her class. I have been laying the ground work and the universe has decided it’s time so I will make it the time.
Here goes nothing.
Some days, there just isn’t enough time for it all.
Normally, I can schedule my work time around the kid’s school hours and or nap time. In a perfect world, I pack it all in and I’m able to leave my desk and desk top sorted and to do list checked off ad the first sound of a waking child.
For the last 6 weeks, that has not been the case. In addition to a larger than usual work load, there are about 9 other plates spinning above my head perched precariously on little sticks. I look like a circus side show desperately trying to keep all the plates spinning in the air. And when one of the plates is not spinning fast enough – or at all – the mom guilt kicks in. Big time.
And thus, the parental punt.
Yes they eat. They get baths. Their clothes are clean-ish. But they watch more cartoons than they should. Laundry sits longer than I’d like it to. We eat out too much or worse, there are way too many meals of quesadillas without a veggie in sight. I drop them off at the first minute they can be on campus per our tuition bracket and pick up at the last second. There is far too much wine consumed and too few hours slept.
But there is a light. I won’t always be the kicker. Soon there will be enough time, energy and daylight to run the ball in. At least, that’s what I tell myself to dissuade the mom guilt. That and a few carrots on their plates should do the trick.
A few years ago our bathroom toilet was making sputtering sounds every time it flushed. It wasn’t horrible during the day, but at night, it was super annoying and woke up the entire house when it caused the pipes to bang with each sputter.
I was dreading a plumbing bill so my mom suggested I go to the plumbing supply store and ask them to show me how to fix it. I was so not in the mood to be talked down to or confused so I put it off…until no one could sleep. I buckled. I snapped pictures of the inside of the tank and ventured out to be belittled.
To my shock, the guy I talked to was incredibly nice! He diagnosed the problem quickly and then got me the parts to fix it. He even went as far to do some of the assembly of the fill valve in the store and then give me step by step instructions on how to install it. A half hour of time and I had successfully installed the new part for $20 vs a $200 plumbing bill. I’ve also fixed 3 other toilets at my house and some of the rental houses.
This week, I walked in from taking out the trash to a loud, strange noise. I began to scour the house for the source and found water blasting out of the toilet area and quickly flooding the joint. I quickly turned off the water and realized that the supply line nut had cracked (it’s worth noting that this is not the same thing I fixed prior). I took the tag off the line, shuttled the kids to the plumbing supply store for new lines for all the toilets in the house. $8, a wrench and towel later, problem solved.
As I relayed the story to my mom, I realized how nice it is to know how to fix your house. Not only is it annoying to have to pay someone to fix issues, waiting around for them to show up (which is ALWAYS during nap time) is the part I have the hardest time swallowing.
So the lesson for today is; go to a small specialty store and ask for help when you have a problem…. And also to replace your supply lines if the nut is plastic. You’ll thank me when your house doesn’t flood.
If I read one more post, article or link about how to slow down, cut back on the to do list and or enjoy life, I’m going to punch someone.
Telling me to forget those dishes, stop running errands and don’t sign my kids up for activities is not only pointless, it’s down right mean. So my kids are going to be deprived of swim lessons, play dates and visits to the museum because it’s a lot of work? I should let the dishes, laundry and other housework pile up in the name of bonding time? How can I work more “efficiently” at my job in order to avoid having to multitask?
Also, these people clearly do not have a “spirited” four year old whom they stay home with who has ideas of her own and she. will. get. her. way. No matter how severe the consequences. So yes, while sitting down and spending time together is a good thing, there are days where if she doesn’t go to swim lessons, I might run out the door an never come back.
I get it. I do. I see the point these articles and posts are trying to make and in general, I agree. I do think there are limits on the day and what can get done – but while the message is clear, the call to action (or non action) is ridiculous. Show me a mom who is not stressed, worried or overwhelmed in some form and I’ll show you a mom who is not paying enough attention to her life. I’m not saying it’s healthy, I’m just saying it’s part of the gig. Learning how to not just survive but thrive is essential to make the most of your life and your kid’s lives. Quite time, unstructured time and alone time are all great, but they are only part of a fulfilling life. Getting kids dressed and out the door to church is annoying, but essential. Loading up for tennis lessons, t-ball games and riding lessons is difficult, but it provides the enrichment we all need. And let’s not forget our jobs. Fun as they are, they are necessary not only to provide for our families, pay for college and groceries.
So unless you’ve got a technique that will teach me how to thrive on 4 hours of sleep (how does Martha do it?!), spare me your warm and fuzzies. I’ve got work to do, children to raise and laundry to be folded.
Monday afternoon I was busy in the kitchen throwing things in the slow cooker, making a week’s worth of smoothies for us and for Bay, whipping up Auggie purees and hard boiling eggs – pretty much anything that would keep us fed with something other than frozen pizza for the week. Baylor protested napping and Auggie woke up early from his so I
banished asked them to play outside for awhile while I finished. For about an hour and a half, they wandered, played, whined, played some more and then finally got settled into a game they made up. Everyone played nicely and complaints turned to giggles and belly laughs.
The entire time I was having pangs of guilt for not being outside with them. It was like the devil on my shoulder was telling me that I was a horrible mom for not playing with my kids. I tried to convince myself too that we played by ourselves all the time as kids and we loved it! Peter has told me the stories of how he and his buddies would “hunt snakes” with the pool cleaning equipment in the desert for hours as kids. And he’s a fancy lawyer so it can’t be all bad, right?
That night I read this article on someone’s FaceBook page. It makes a great argument for letting your kids get bored. It talks about how bordem, unstructured playtime and the freedom to run amok teaches kids how to problem solve. How to make their own fun and how to be self motivated. It makes a great point that at some point in life, no one will be there to tell them what to do or how to do it. Playing alone now will start to give them the tools to think outside the box and learn to fix their own problems.
I used to spend hours in the yard, the trees and roaming our neighborhood. I had tree houses, forts, made mud pies, tied the dog to the wagon and made him pull us, dressed up the cat, and had Olympic events with our friends. I’m not sure if it made me a better person, but it did make me an excellent mud pie chef.
So as long as I’m making healthy, delicious meals, I won’t feel guilty. And I’ll feel just a little guilty when it’s for Real Housewives and Nutella on graham crackers.
I always worry that I’m not doing enough for the kids. Not reading enough. Not playing enough. Not being patient enough. And that I’m going to give them permanent issues because they are sharing a room. Worry worry worry. You want the best for your kids so you work to give them the moon…but sometimes the moon isn’t totally necessary.
When my sister was in kindergarten, she was sent to the nurse for a bump or bruise. She came home from school that day enamored by the fact that the nurse had “made” ice. She begged my mom to ask the nurse for the recipe. Perplexed, my mom agreed. She realized later that the nurse used ice-cube trays – we had an ice maker so Ali had never seen a tray before.
My niece Madi used to beg my step sister to please turn on the “normal” radio in the car coming home from school. Her friends didn’t have satellite radio so she wanted to listen to the free radio that her friends were listening to.
The other night while getting Baylor out of the tub, she told me how she had been in the bathroom at a friend’s house recently and how she thought they had a HUGE window in the bathroom. But when she pulled back the curtain, she found it was actually the bathtub. Better yet, the bathtub HAD A SHOWER IN IT!! The look of pure joy on her face over the idea of a bathtub and shower together was priceless. This as I’m pulling her out of the claw foot tub that took weeks to get, was installed incorrectly, had to be removed and then put back into place and cost a small fortune…if I had only known she would have been more impressed by a tub shower.
The moral that I need to remember is this: no matter what the gift is, the box is most likely going to be more fun. And that’s a good thing. They are going to enjoy the fact that Baylor used to climb into Auggie’s crib in the morning to play and that they used to wake each other up in the middle of the night. They will laugh about how they put stickers all over each other behind me as I scrambled to get a few things done in the office (hell, they do that now).
At the very least, this will all be good things to talk about at therapy some day. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.
When creative energy meets a quite space of time, it produces great blog posts, chapters in a book I hope to complete some day and many things checked off of my work to do list.
Getting these two things in the same place at the same time is not only tricky, it’s damn near impossible it seems these days. The result? Painstakingly painful posts requiring much more work than what the result would lead one to believe. No work done on a book other than dreams of what I will wear to the book signing and raised anxiety levels over the fact that my list is growing rather than shrinking.
My new goals? Sleep less, push to make the most of nap time and find an additional hour a day where I encourage the kiddo to play quietly while I get a few things done. Prioritize my to do list for life, for work and for myself and stick to it and not freak out when it doesn’t all get done some days (ha. I laughed when I wrote that one. But writing is the first step, yes?). Carve out more structured play time/learning time with Bay and not feel like a horrible mother when her big activities for the day are a trip to the grocery and vacuuming. And to take a deep breath.
iiiiiinnnnnnn aaaaaaannnnnndddddd oooooouuuutttttt