I’m texting with Kim. Interrogating her about how she balances the demands of family, job, hobbies, friendships. We’ve talked about this a thousand times and I still think she’ll have the answer. She doesn’t.
Mostly I complain about my intense guilt. The guilt I feel when a friend who I love asks “when can we get together” and I respond “Ummm…I’m not sure” or someone says, “let’s have a play date” and I say “YES” when in my mind I’m thinking “Oh.my.god. when the heck do we have time for that?”
We start to joke about how much easier it would be if there was some set of friendship rules that dictate the parameters of friendships. Being in the tech industry I suggest the answer is a friendship service level agreement (SLA). She enthusiastically agrees. We brainstorm.
I exclaim, “this would be a great blog”. She enthusiastically agrees again. I must be on to something.
So here they are. Friendship SLAs as defined by an overworked, exhausted chic who apparently has time to blog but no time to answer the phone, return texts and emails, or agree to play dates, girls night’s out and other fun activities.
I sleepily glance at the clock.
FIVE TWENTY EIGHT?
I need to be at the shuttle at 5:36a.m. I hastily get dressed and gather my things. Elaine Bennis style.
I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare but the jolt hasn’t worn off. I feel rushed. Impatient.
I start peeling off my coat, shoes, belt. Head out of gutter, people! The TSA requires every person to remove said articles of clothing. A woman in front of me is with a flight attendant. She peppers him with questions:
“Do I have to take off my shoes? My sweater? Can I keep my cell phone? Did you see my ticket? Wait, my shoes have to come off? Where is my phone? Thank you so much for helping me.”
As our bins arrive at the end of the belt he instructs her. “Walk down that hallway. Your gate is the last one on the left. When you get there…”but she is nervous. Frantic.
“My flight to Boston is down there? Can I buy coffee? Is anything open? Just down that hallway?”
Boston. I pause. I realize I have time. I can help. Those are the words in my head. “I have time.”
I get it. Being busy isn’t respectable anymore. But sometimes life is oh.my.god.I.have.so.much.to.do busy for a few days. Or a week. Or in my case a month. So busy, in fact, that eating becomes optional (thank you, work-induced-weight-loss-program!) And washing ones hair happens every 3 (ok, 4) days.
So I give up. I accept these things are not going to happen:
- A clean house. Ok, a clean house was never going to happen around here. Let’s go with “any sort of organization whatsoever”.
- An organized inbox. My work email is at 1,500. My gmail is at 500. My yahoo is too large to count. Perhaps the problem is too many email addresses.
- Writing thank-you cards for my 4-year old. You know, for her birthday party that was in JANUARY.
- Germ prevention. As evidenced by a nasty cold that came complete with laryngitis and double conjunctivitis. (Me, not the kids). Yes, I realize this could be related to the 1st bullet.
- Having a case of the Mondays. It’s impossible to have a case of the Monday’s when you work all weekend.
- Remembering to send the kids to school with any necessities. Like extra clothes, extra water, proper attire for after school programs, homework, signed paperwork, etc. I have remembered to send them with lunch. And a snack.
Things I have somehow managed to keep doing:
“Mommy, I don’t want to cuddle anymore.”
For a minute I was speechless.
Wasn’t cuddling and talking about our day supposed to last for YEARS? At age six, Marlee declared she was done.
My heart broke a little. It would be the first of many things Marlee was ready for before I was.
Or was she?
Of all the mom’s I know, only Stephanie is able to run a farm, cook elaborate meals, and keep the house clean — all with two kids in tow – whether or not her husband is around to help her.Stephanie is some sort of mom-wife superhero. The rest of us are just trying to get by when our resources are cut in half.
So what should you do when your partner is out of town, working late, or otherwise unavailable? This is what works for me —
- The desire to have clean kids *and* a clean house – get over it. Only the kids or the house can be clean. Learn to live with a mess.
- Meal planning can be summarized in multiple two word phrases: Crock pot. Simple meals. Take out. Local delivery.
- Doing the laundry is a necessity. Folding the laundry is not.
- If your kids can’t tell time put them to bed earlier.
All they want is money.
It will consume all my free time.
I was stunned to learn these accusations of the PTA are true.
Really it depends who I talk to. And if they’ve had coffee.
Maybe the real problem is one of perception. Perception brought on by (dare I say it?) poor branding and lazy messaging.
Yup, I said it.
I’m not going to bore you with all that bullshit about how rewarding it is, how you are giving back to your children and the community (ok, I might say that ONCE to instill some guilt), and how fun it is. While true, you can read that anywhere. Let me give you my insider’s perspective.
Once upon a time I accepted that laundry was my job. Forever. I dreaded the monotony and disruption of the chore. Washer…wait for it… dryer…wait for it… fold clothes..takes forever especially because all clothes are inside out… put clothes away…which is really optional around here…repeat. YAWN. Boooooring.
While I love clean clothes I am still mildly annoyed by the never ending cycle of wash, dry, and fold. At any given moment of any given day I am in one of the laundry stages.
During a recent “will this never end?” rant, Josh pointed out that I can’t possibly loathe doing laundry as much as I claim. In fact, my actions show that I must LOVE it.