Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Motherlode: Finding Balance Where There is None


It's 10:24 am and I have but one precious hour left of time before having to get the twins from their preschool. The minutes hang over my head serving as a constant reminder that I do not have enough time. I have a deadline to keep, I am writing about my trip to Nevis and going through hundreds of photos; editing and trying to organize my post so it's not too long, so that it stays interesting. This has been weighing on me for weeks, and I keep procrastinating. Must. Keep. Going. I have at least eight hours of stuff to do today, but they will not get done. I know this. And it adds to my frustration. Obligations, expectations, personal wishes, distractions, lists in my head, important decisions to make, a business to help run (but I don't because I leave that to Scott by default, causing him stress as well)... It's crazy hair day tomorrow and next week Isla needs to dress like she's one hundred years old. These sorts of things are icing on the cake that I do not want to eat. Do you know how hard it is for me to get out of the house with my kids by 8am!? And now I need to give her rainbow troll hair!!?? (Insert GIF of woman sliding down a wall slowly in exasperation) All of these things combine with about a million other tiny things - including my own personal struggles, wishes and desires (which get pushed to the side and ignored) - and chip away at my sanity, my peace. I freeze. I opt for an evening with friends drinking strong cocktails as opposed to tackling the contents of the overflowing cupboard or doing some much-needed yoga. I'm simply too tired. The devil in my mind shakes her head in disgust: "You are not enough."

Welcome to the motherlode.

***

I know I'm not alone. It's not a new concept; the mental load that a mother bears. It's well documented and every single woman who runs a household knows exactly what I am talking about. Lots of people see me and think that I have it pretty together. And sometimes, I do. But deep down, I'm just grabbing at straws like everyone else. Things that are currently bugging me (this just off the top of my head): my computer is a mess, files everywhere, 18K+ photos just floating around with zero organization, and in desperate need of a backup. Our lockers, cabinets and drawers? Dear GOD they are ALL overflowing and jammed shut. Hidden away. Is this a metaphor for my life? Tidy on the surface and a mess underneath? I ponder this question regularly. Our fridge needs cleaning and organizing, and speaking of the fridge, I really need to step up my cooking game because I'm failing there too. Must do more family dinners....I need purge some of our stuff; kids clothes, toys, extra markers and all. the. things. Living on a boat means it encloses around us much more quickly until I snap and just start grabbing stuff and throwing it in bags. Confession: I keep almost NONE of my kids art and crafts and when it comes home in their bags, more often than not it goes right to the trash. Am I the only one? TELL ME I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

I want to take pictures of their creations and scribbles as keepsakes for them, maybe set up email addresses for them to act as a time capsule where I send them cute things about their lives and their days but FACT: I can't be bothered. Will I regret this? Thoughts like these keep me up at night. I yell at my kids too much and sometimes their attitudes make me see red. ACTUAL RED, people. Am I failing them? Kids are, after all, a mirror unto ourselves. Each day when they are mean or sassy or hurtful I think: "Did I do this to them?"...I spend too much, am careless with money, and have no idea how to do taxes or properly manage finances. I have approximately 4K emails in my windtraveler inbox, many of those from wonderful and loyal fans and followers who deserve a response, but I just can. not. do. it. I simply do not have the energy or the time to craft thousands of email. I have so much I want to say, want to write...but I'm blocked. I feel pulled a million directions and instead of it all lighting a fire under me to work work work and #getitdone, I freeze. Am I lazy? Am I a failure to launch? Am I living up to my potential? I don't like the answers I give myself. "You are not enough."

This is just the little mundane stuff. I won't even get into the fact that our livelihood and business still dangle precariously in front of us, our future almost totally uncertain. The next 18 months are critical. I push the thoughts out of my head...

And people wonder why I cannot sleep at night.

It's not one of my better traits, this tendency to stand like a deer in headlights in the face of a mountain of tasks. I get overwhelmed easily and my knee-jerk reaction - the carnal fight or flight instinct that evolution has fine tuned for us - is to run. I escape in many ways; some healthy (spending time with friends, talking, writing it out), others not so much (drinking in excess to distract, wasting precious hours on social media). But to tackle it is all too much. I want to take a photography course (my skills are so limited), get back into health and fitness (I'm a former marathon runner and medaled triathlete), I want to write at least once a week and resurrect this blog... I want to be a better mom, a better friend, better sister and daughter...I want to submit articles to magazines, maybe even start a novel and there are SO MANY books I am longing to read because one every couple weeks isn't enough.... These are just a sampling of a long list of wishes and desires I have but instead I let out a heavy sigh, lay down during my downtime hours and scroll on Facebook or find some other distraction. "Another day" I tell myself. My energy level is too low. My inspiration gone. I need more coffee... Which reminds me, I really need to drink more water.

On the flip side, I am also hyper aware that we are in an intense stage of life right now. Everyone tells me this and I get it. We are "in the trenches" as it were... We had three kids in less than two years (chaos is an understatement), are the parents of twins (well documented to add stress to a marriage), live on a sailboat (stressful) on an island where we are complete outsiders (and often made to feel unwelcome), and we run a (now fledgling) business. Our lives were completely overturned and future made uncertain by the largest recorded hurricane in Atlantic history, adding insult to injury. To steal a lyric from my favorite 80's rock ballad, we are "living in a powder keg." I still am looking for the spark. Maybe it will get my tush in gear?

We are lucky, I know that. I feel guilty for even winging about this because WHAT RIGHT DO I HAVE? There are many people with real problems; terminal illness, family death, poverty, abuse...the list goes on. My litany of stresses and worries are of the first world variety and I know that (adding guilt to my self-deprecation list right now). I know that what matters most in life are people and our relationships with them. That our health is our wealth. We have three beautiful, healthy children and wonderful family and friends. We get to live in paradise, enjoy international travel and our lives are full of adventure. I am grateful for all these things, believe me. Will I be on my deathbed and wish I had written one more blog post? Most likely not. Will I sob at the mountain of email I never got back to or wish I had cooked more organic vegan dinners for my children or lament that my drawers were a mess? The dispatches I read of hospice nurses tell me unequivocally "no". I will wish for more time and maybe that I had spent mine wiser. I will think of my family and friends and hope I made a positive impact on their lives, in their worlds. I will lament hours wasted agonizing about things that don't matter, days like this. And this is what I think I need to keep focusing on. One foot in front of the other. Day by day. What is important right now is to make someone smile, help a friend, have a laugh, make a memory with my children... I remind myself that soon enough all three of our girls will be in school all day long and before I know it they will be grown and suddenly I will have many hours throughout the week. I will miss these days. I will look back and think how wonderful - maybe even how easy - it all was. And I will long to come back here.

But for now, it feels like the motherlode.

***

Yesterday, I bought three cans of colored hairspray for Isla's rainbow hair tomorrow. When I showed her she would be able to have the hair she wished for she jumped up and down with the biggest smile you could imagine, threw her arms around me and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!! Thank you SO much mommy, you are the BEST! I am so excited!" In that little moment, I was winning, and everything else was just noise. This morning, I was more than enough. And that's good enough for now.


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

One day at a time.. One baby step at a time.. One chore at a time.. One reward at a time.. It will all get done AND you will come out of it with children educated and with lives of their own..the lockers will still be full (maybe with grankid stuff??), but so will the memories. Deep breathe..you ARE enough.. I know .. Mom of four under 3, mom of twins and two singles (all women), mom of a lawyer, two successful business entrepreneurs and a marketing genius (all with university degrees).. Grandmom to a whole slew of wonderful grand kids!! Deep breath girl.. You ARE enough.. What doesn't get done probably doesn't need to.. Just guessing �� ❤

Sarah Frank said...

I ... Am there. Exactly there. Not on a boat or in a coffee shop, but in my dining room as Audrey and Owen "nap" (aka, jump around in their room refusing to nap) as I try to get a chapter in. And then my computer does an automatic update!!!! Precious time LOST! So I pick up my phone and get a refreshing email and glimpse into your life and ... You're in the same spot. Well -- You got this! Hopefully I do, too. I feel ya.

I wrote about something similar here: http://themidlifecalm.blogspot.com/2018/02/identity-crisis.html?m=1


Sean and Alison Sayers said...

You absolutely said it all. We especially feel the crunch as school comes to a close and we prep our boat for a trip from the Chesapeake to Maine. Stress, understanding the value of perspective and why we do it.

Arizona_Bob said...

NO NEED TO REPLY!

Can't say much, but...I like you. I like all of THEM. You're a great family doing the best you can. My life would be much, much less without all of you.

From my perspective 'way at the other end of life, please trust me when I say: It WILL get better. You will survive this, and you will be happy.

I believe in you.

Take care and, give 'em an extra hug from me.

Rosalita said...

Oh my god. This sounds so awfully familiar! My twin boys were three when my daughter was born, and I was working full-time. I can relate to every single word you've written. From the perspective of many years later I can tell you this too shall pass, it does get better, and you will find your energy again. It's okay to just go with what you have right now...be gentle with yourself, and just breathe. I promise it will get better. Do what you can, and don't worry about the rest. There's plenty of time for the things that matter most. I love your writing, whenever you get to it!

Martha said...

You are doing great. I'm a mother of just one 11 month old and I feel many of the same things you described. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and just enjoy and stop worrying (easier said than done). Hang in there...you doing a wonderful job. And as a side note, I love your blog and it completely made my day to see a new post. I very much value your experience and writing. Hang in there mama!

Catherine Hackett said...

Breathe deeply. You are more than enough. I can tell by your children's faces what a good job you are doing. The fact that you are aware of potential short comings indicates how invested and focused you are. You are also fully and deliciously human with all the glorious messiness that entails.

Your entries mean so much to me. Allowing a glimpse into a life very different from my own and yet with a love of so many similar things. I am in awe of you and others like you who juggle so many balls so well most of the time. Please know what a lovely impact you've made in my life and I'm sure many others, including your husband's and your beautiful girls'.

Stuart Jenkins said...

Now you know why god leaves raising children to younger people. Once you get to be our age you will wonder where and how you were able to do so much. You will survive and be richer for accomplishing all that you are doing today.

What kind of leader do you want to be? said...

I'm outside of the young child arena (my boys are 26 & 28, one married!) but have felt exactly like you and sometimes still do!!! A friend died last week. Through the process of grieving I thought I should have done more for her and I wasn’t a good enough friend. What I realized by reminiscing with friends was I underestimated the positive impact I had on my friend and others through simple small acts of kindness and love. We want to do the “motherload” of good for everyone and feel like a failure if we fall short of great. At that time, I remembered a favorite quote from St. Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Remember that the colored hair spray is one of those small things that shows your great love!

Eileen said...

Never, ever, ever have any regrets and as a very strong woman once told me when I felt I was flailing in my career nearly 20 year ago — “don’t let other people’s expectations cause you to question yourself.” Good words to live by. You will get through this.

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