I am often asked, "How do you do it all?" I never know how to answer that question and it usually occurs when someone notices my kid throwing a tantrum in public, so I wonder if they really mean it.
Honestly, I don't do it all, and even when I am accomplishing a lot I still feel like I'm falling short.
Sometimes it seems to be happening all at once. Sometimes just two dance classes a week land you in traffic for an extra three hours. Sometimes there's a fight in your daughter's school, so you are taking off work to volunteer in the classroom. Sometimes there's a lice outbreak and you need to do daily checks to see if the little pests hitched a ride that day on the hair train. Sometimes you are working two jobs and your husband's working three.
Then there are other times when you are putting all your extra beans into something to see if you can make it grow and possibly sacrificing other areas you really should be taking care of.
When life is moving so fast and you have to check three times to make sure you actually put the baby in the car you can think, This is too much.
Maybe it is.
One minute a child is driving me nuts and the next she brings a feeling to my heart that swells it with pride, but because she drove me nuts, does that mean I'm a bad mom?
We are bombarded in our society with the idea that if we go on vacation we will be happy. Really good wine, that will make us happy. A new car will solve it. What if I move to another city or buy a trendy blouse?
Life is funny and weird and exciting and a lot to deal with all at once.
I guess it's OK to feel all the emotions that come with life. I guess if we are feeling them that can indicate to us we are alive. I'd rather feel something than nothing.
Can you do or have it all? For the past two weeks I did... well, sort of. I had some warm and loving time with my children, success at my work, for a few hours my house stayed clean and one day I got to exercise. I even went on a date with my husband.
I think the lie we are fed is that you have to have it all at the same time. That if you are not in a constant state of happiness and bliss with a clean house, well-behaved children and a fat bank account, something must be wrong.
Maybe one day the house is going to be messy, but you are going to have an extra 40 minutes to drive your daughter to ballet. On another day that floor is going to be spotless, but the kids watched too much TV. Sometimes your husband may be working way too much, but you can finally afford to buy some extras without feeling you're cutting into rent money.
What if doing it all means one day you did one thing right and the next you did two?
Recently, I've found cleaning to be grounding. It's a completely foreign feeling as normally I hate it, but the feel of a freshly washed floor under my feet, which is a direct and finite result of my physical action, makes me feel in control.
I've found I need to choose what's important for both my short term and long term goals and not allow real or imagined failures, overwhelm or guilt stop me from taking the next step upward.
Life has actually gotten more hectic since school started. I don't understand the idea that the kids being in school makes things easier. Homework, lice outbreaks, school meetings, after-school activities, my own job, it has all ramped up to a rather high-pitched roar of activity.
This week I kept all the plates spinning by finding one thing I could control. I could wash the floor.
This week I was totally in control of one thing.
Maybe next week it will be two, but for now, I'm going to feel the floor beneath my feet.
This post originally appeared on Our Urban Playground.