The Juggling Act

There is more of this in the laundry room.
There is more of this in the laundry room.

My friend said the other day that she has no idea just how I do all that I do as a Mom.  Really??!!??  “ALL that I do” is mostly just ignoring the things I can’t get done.  There are

a lot of things that I can’t get done…but I don’t take pictures of my failures every day and share them for the world to see.  Now, though, I’m here to expose myself, dispel the myth.  I do it as a self-proclaimed ‘martyr’ (and I use that term loosely) for Mothers everywhere.  I am prepared to take the fall from grace just to prove that it simply is not all blossoms and cupcakes in my world.

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I didn’t have the energy to make her clean her bedroom today.

As I write this my children are both in bed.  I put them in there an hour after their proposed bedtime because they were sweetly watching a movie.  The odds of them doing anything sweetly are minimal enough that I tend to let it go on longer just so as not to break the moment (and because I was busy being lazy).

I am about to pick up my camera and walk around my house and take photographs of all the things I didn’t get to today…and that’s just the physical manifestation of my ‘imperfection’ in this particular moment.  There are some things that photographs can’t capture that I fail to do, too.  Like the baths my kids didn’t take tonight, for example.

I did actually do the dishes and straighten up a little while ago, but only because my sister dropped by and I was shamed by my own internal voice that told me my home was not at all presentable…and when you feel that way in front of your sister, you know it’s bad.  I had to sign a piece of paper for her, and struggled to find a clean surface to do it on.  I laughed on the outside, and winced a little

Coats crumpled on the closet floor, mere feet from hangers.
Coats crumpled on the closet floor, mere feet from hangers.

on the inside…did I really let it get that messy?  Yup.

So, thanks to her visit it’s actually better than it would have been if I’d been left to wallow in the filth without external forces to motivate me (aka guilt me) into cleaning.  My kid has been sick, I’d like to think of that as my excuse…only, I don’t care to use the excuse because I may not have that card to pull the next time it’s a massive mess.

My kids are a delight.  We genuinely have fun.  What little energetic, fascinating, cheerful charmers I have!  There really are many moments (and photos to prove it) of us having an absolutely wonderful time.  They play

sports, we take walks, we goof off and sing and dance at the top of our lungs together.  We cook together, clean together, and all the other ‘life’ things that we do are done with pizzazz.  I will stop almost anything I’m doing if they ask a question that gives me a chance to impart knowledge or explore something educational (Lately it’s been body organs and systems).   Those are the crowning achievements of my life as Mom.

I’m not just a mom, I’m a single mom, so if there is food in the fridge or on the table, it’s because I put it there.  If there is food on the floor it’s because my kid spilled it and I haven’t yet chased them down to clean it up.  If the trash is full I take it out when I bother to get to it (shoving it down buys me time).  If bills come in I pay it. If kids are sick I take them to the doctors and miss work time for it.  If anything in this house gets done at all it’s either because I did it, or I soldiered a child into doing it

The paint job I started 3 weeks ago.
The paint job I started 3 weeks ago.

themselves (ok, I’ll admit, I pay someone to mow the lawn).

My children’s input on the mess is still far greater than the output in their cleaning effort and sometimes it’s more effort to make them clean it but I’ll be damned if I am going to wipe the toothpaste smears anymore!  Plus, it’s an important life lesson…I do all the ‘life lessons’ around here too.  Basically the life we lead is because I lead it, I make it happen, and there really IS a lot on my shoulders.  I just don’t question how I do it ‘all’, as my friend does, because I already know the answer!

The answer – I don’t do it all.  That’s my secret.  I’m a skilled juggler, but I can only keep so many balls in the air at one time.  There are plenty that get dropped, but like any skilled juggler, I keep the eyes of the audience focused on the balls still in the air…because (and I like this rhyme), I juggle them with flair!  Why does that rhyme inspire me to write a really cheesy Mom Rap?  I just might…

Toothpaste smears are a constant, always grateful when the toilet is flushed.
Toothpaste smears are a constant, always grateful when the toilet is flushed.

So, there is always a load (or four) of dirty laundry, and often a clean one (or four) still waiting to be folded, the same story for the dishes too.  I never get a book returned to the library on time…NEVER.  There is ALWAYS something sticky on my floor, and I sometimes have to stop and wipe crumbs off my feet before I can get in bed (a carpet might mask the crumbs better, but not the spill stains…one of life’s little dilemmas).

Some of my bills get paid a little late, I simply ignore them until I have the money in the bank to afford them…out of sight, out of mind, right?  My kids choose their own clothes, and as long as they are weather appropriate and not a costume, I let them wear it to school (and, those who know me will scoff at this, because I actually have let my kids go in costume, but that was preschool only, I swear).  I don’t hang over every thing they do, although sometimes I wish I had…every day is filled with their creative ‘surprises’ varying from wonderful, to downright atrocious.

Some of those wonderfully smiley photos taken of us in sunshine just don’t show the whiney aftermath when my kids decided to fight over the one thing there isn’t two of in the world.  Sometimes, when I’m the one behind the camera rather than in front of it, you can’t tell that I look like hell and could use a hairbrush and a better outfit.  The paint job I started in the bathroom isn’t finished.  I started it three weeks ago.  What can I say, I’ve been busy?  Somehow, though, I’ve had time for a pedicure…one ball kept in the air, another one dropped.

So I pick and choose what I can handle…or what I want to handle.   Whatever those things are, I make them look good.  I simply ignore the rest until I have a chance to pick it back up.  That ability to let go of those things, let them drop on the floor and act as if I don’t care that it is down there…it’s my strength.  It’s my happiness, my serenity, my triumph.

So, if it isn’t clear yet, my message to other Mothers everywhere is to be willing to screw img_6302up and drop things, and float along as if you didn’t…because apparently, my closest friends have NO CLUE just how dysfunctional I actually am, so the illusion must be working.  The important part of this message is to not let yourself go crazy over the balls rolling around at your feet.  I’m living proof that life goes on quite merrily when you stick to what you can handle in the moment.

The true glory in my method is that my kids are getting the best of me – the fun, love, laughter, and life experience at the time it matters most, because that is the stuff I rarely let fall.  It’s all a matter of priority…and juggling skills.

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One Response to The Juggling Act

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Love this Jenny! I think a lot of moms cam relate and will be exhaling sighs of relief that they are not the only ones ;) thanks for sharing

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