“how do you find the time?”
“working full time. being a mom. eating. shopping. working out. writing.”
“seriously?!” disbelief. “umm…i don’t,” i said. “it’s literally a constant frenzy from one minute to the next.”
eye roll. “come on. you make it look so easy.”
easy. right… within the span of a week, i had washed and folded 6 loads of laundry, woke up at 4am to a sick kid and a pile of projectile vomit that i literally caught in my hands, got stuck in a monsoon with no umbrella running from the office to the bus to the car to go to school for pick up, only to be the last mom there, enduring the glare from a crusty teacher and the sad face staring back at me asking “why were you late?” i racked my brain to remember algebra and geometry theorems to help with math homework, and lectured my eldest on hygiene fouls and the importance of changing your underwear every day (after having noticed only a few pairs in the mountains of said laundry). i broke up a fight over snakes that i had won for the boys playing whack a mole, and another grapple over what show to watch, and one about who gets to sit “in the middle” chair at the dining table, and yelled at both of them every morning for five days straight about moving like snails in the race to get ready for school.
but every day, when i get to work, i put on my pumps and pull it together. before i had kids, i vowed to try to retain my sense of identity. buttoned up. accessorized. harmonized. i’m a libra after all. i’d strike a perfect balance between mom and maven. work and werq.
but behind the scenes, it’s mostly mayhem. a tight rope act. spinning plates. at any given moment, the ruse of control can give way to chaos. and the oft fortuitous avoidance of disaster turns into a head-on collision of the all-too-common kind.
a couple weeks ago, it was my halloween horror story. the costumes were bought. the pumpkins were out. the trick or treating protocol reviewed. we were ready to go. but a busy work week and an all-nighter the day before distracted me enough to cause the debacle. halloween morning, pulling up to the kiss and ride, i see yoda and spiderman, bat man and a lady bug traversing the crosswalk. i was struck by the sinking realization that i had forgotten to dress him up in costume for the pre-k parade.
it was soul-crushing. an epic mommy #fail.
we managed to save the day, scrambling back home to pick up the scooby costume just in time for the pre-school procession. he was no worse for the wear, but the damage in my mind was done. chalk that one up as a spinning plate officially shattered.
i licked my wounds for a couple days, and then picked up the pieces and re-commenced the spinning.
it may look shiny on the outside, but truth be told, it’s also a grind. when you’re a parent, there is a crazy duality to every day that you can’t really comprehend unless you’re living it. stolen moments of glam are outweighed by grubby hands and gooey messes. it’s exhausting, exciting, enriching, enraging, energizing, emotional, enduring—an endless amount of effort.
one thing it definitely is not: easy.
try as you might, you can’t do it all. balls will drop. events may be missed. things will be forgotten. and striving for perfection or balance will set you up to fail. between being there for everyone and trying to salvage a sliver of yourself, something’s gotta give.
but the flipside is that somehow, some way, you discover a capacity within yourself that you never knew you had. you find an extra ounce of energy despite a few hours less of sleep. you discover an untapped well of love that expands though you feel like you’re running on empty.
it’s not easy. but you embrace it. because you know it’s not just something. it’s everything.