I wake up every morning with desire. Desire to eat a healthy breakfast, to be a great parent, to work on my manuscript, to call back a friend, to write a great post, to go on a walk, to finally, finally fold the laundry. Unfortunately I will do none of these things, or at least none of them well. I will eat a halfhearted breakfast, dry cereal while I nurse, while I feed a toddler, while I pump breast milk, while I shove dishes in the dishwasher. I will change two diapers, refill the Brita pitcher, run upstairs to put on deodorant, run back down because I hear someone crying. I will sit down to write when the baby takes her morning nap only to be interrupted 57 times by a toddler. On the 32nd time, I will snap JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE because there's no reason to whine over four pairs of socks not fitting onto one foot. When he finally settles down to play, I will have exactly 15 minutes to answer an inbox full of emails, start an intelligent and well-worded post, work on a chapter of a book, or painstakingly tackle the technical and cosmetic issues of "just another annoying mommy blog" before the baby wakes up. Maybe I work, maybe I look at Pinterest where everyone is pinning Stop The Glorification Of Busy in a trendy font which irrationally rubs me the wrong way because I'm not trying to glorify anything, I'm just busy. I pin it anyway.
Is it lunchtime? The toddler rubs peanut butter and jelly fingers through his hair and spills a full cup of water onto the floor. The baby is tired but if I put her down now, their afternoon naps will not line up and I will never, ever get anything done. I will be a big, fat idiot who never did any one thing really well. I think about Lena Dunham and curse her accomplishments. Years younger than me and has already written a movie, TV show, and book. I feel jealousy creep into my veins. I think about that other stupid Pinterest pin about how comparison is the thief of joy and try to channel my inner grace but can't because I'll be 30 next year and still haven't written a memoir/finished a screenplay/lost the first baby's weight/decorated my house/organized the attic/figured out how to afford a nanny.
Lunch is over. Somehow I put a toddler down for a nap at the exact moment the baby wakes up. I change her, feed her, jiggle her on my lap while I type with one hand and eat an entire bag of chips with the other. She smiles at me, but I miss it because I'm trying to figure out HTML code. When she sleeps again the other one wakes and it is dinnertime but I never unfroze the chicken. I never changed out of my pajamas. I never did anything.
My husband walks through the door. I see his tiredness and he sees mine. I brush my teeth for the first time today and cry into the sink. I let the desire and constant failure fuel my tears. I can't, I can't, I can't. I can't be a great parent and write a great book and keep up a great blog and maintain great friendships and keep the floors clean. My notepad with dream projects mocks me from my desk, its content laughable. I do not laugh. I only stare at it with sharp, irreverent desire.
I wake up every morning to her face. She squeaks next to me, hungry for breakfast, hungry to be near me. I smell the top of her head; it is like a warm, spring day. Soon he will be up, a toddler with bedhead and morning breath. He whispers, "Hi Mommy." I carry them both downstairs, eat dry Cheerios from a plastic bowl, keep everyone happy and alive. I try to write because I am a writer. It is not my first choice. I do it anyway. I am busy, but I choose this life. I am lucky to choose.
It is lunchtime. I didn't get much done and that's OK. My To Do list from last week lies untouched on my desk. I glance at my children and remember I chose them instead. I don't regret it, but I also know I can't choose them every minute of every day or else I will start unraveling. While the toddler eats next to me, I write three paragraphs with my headphones on. It is satisfying. After lunch, he wants to paint. I know that 15 minutes of prep will only be five minutes of play, but I set it up anyway. I think about all the other moms filling up little bowls of water and finding scrap paper and cleaning off old paint brushes. It is hard, important work. I think about the moms going to work, by choice or by force, earning money for their families. It is hard, important work. We all feel guilty, we all feel worry, we all feel desire. We all want to do more, be more, find a way to be better, and I remind myself we're showing up so at least we're halfway there.
It is naptime and I fold half the wash, answer three emails, think about meat in the freezer. The baby is cooing like a bird. I feel jealousy start to creep in when I see an Instagram about a writing conference in New York, but I push it away. I breathe out my desire and let it join the collection of desires from every woman since the beginning of time. I remember it is good to desire, to reach, to try, to expect greatness. Great things take time. Comparison is the thief of joy. Never, ever, ever give up.
I close my eyes.
The toddler is up and it's poopy diapers, spilled crackers, and toys all over the floor. I put the chicken in the oven, change out of my pajamas, step over a Lego, wipe the counters clean. I kiss my husband hello. We celebrate small victories, laugh over the fails. My notepad with dream projects sits on my desk, its content daring. I don't do everything. Sometimes I don't do anything. I keep dreaming with sharp, reverent desire.