When you have four kids, life is going to be busy, simply by definition. But Christian and I have not given up the things we were doing before kids came along, and we were busy then. When I first quit working, I was a bona fide stay at home mom. Now, I work from home, but I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, to the conviction that I’ve stretched myself too thin.
See, the thing is, nobody actually does it all. Somewhere, something is going to give.
My head is just too full, and things are falling out of it. On Tuesday nights when Christian is teaching piano, I can get everybody to and from lessons, dinner cooked and on the table, bully everybody into getting their mealtime chores done, make the boys practice piano and trumpet before screen time, do their homework, and maybe even get a page of Julianna’s done with her. But I forget to have them make their lunches. I plan exactly who I have to pick up when in order to get everybody where they’re going when they’re supposed to be there (and we’re rarely late, believe it or not), but I frequently forget to tell the other half of the carpool, or worse, the school where I have to do early pickup, until fifteen minutes before I’m leaving.
Now, I’ve never been one of those parents you could count on to have a package of tissues in her purse. Or hand sanitizer. I am, after all, the mom who once took an all-day trip with the baby and forgot the diaper bag. And I do go easy on myself. I can see how insane that last paragraph is; I recognize that nobody could be expected to remember it all. Even so, a lot of my forgetting is because I’m distracted by all the other things I haven’t yet accomplished yet.
We were not made to live like this.
And then there’s that pesky issue of presence. I shouldn’t be spending car time trying to block out my kids’ voices so I can concentrate on brainstorming a scene, a blog lead, or a not-trite rhyme. For better or for worse, this is the time I have with my children, and my success or failure as a parent depends upon my interactions with them. I don’t want their memory of me to be a mom who is dazed and distracted, and never really paying attention.
(Says the woman who’s sitting on the couch writing a blog post while her kids are reading Tinker Bell, putting a witch hat on my head, and giggling about the walking in the woods story I paused to tell them about two children named Jichael and Mulianna. (They thought that was hysterically funny.)
My parenthetical, and the gauzy watch hat falling down over one eye, provides a good conclusion to this post. Because I have to find some way to be satisfied with what I’m able to accomplish on any given crazy day, even though it’s less than I want. I have to find some way to reduce the amount that I’m taking on, so that I can be present to my children, who are the richest part of my life and the reason I have anything to say to the world at all. And although I have no idea what exactly that looks like in my life, it also reminds me that the changes I need to make are incremental, and already in motion.