Here we are: the week before Christmas and I really, honestly, truly feel like my head is going to explode. There is literally not enough time for me to do everything I need to (and those are just the things I can remember I have to do), so it’s just time to start accepting what I can’t. Bye bye, dusting. Clean the boys’ room – out of the question. Tidy up the yard – please. My family will have to accept that it’s a sloppy Christmas.
But this is nothing new, really. As a child care provider, mother of two boys who both play three sports, writer, small business owner, and wife, my life is pretty much constant chaos. Go go go go go it never stops. Needless to say, a lot slips through the cracks. And I spend a lot of time being hard on myself because of all the things I’m failing at.
When my mother calls to see how I’m doing I often start listing everything that’s hanging over my head: “Well Older needs new basketball shoes but we can’t get to the store before his next game because I have a meeting Wednesday night, and I had to go to school and pick up Younger because he was sick, so I didn’t get to write my article at naptime because I was entertaining him so I have to write after they go to bed tonight, and I won’t have time to cook dinner because we have to be at tae kwon do at 6:00 so they’ll have to eat grilled cheese again and the insurance agent called me for the fifth time to schedule the inspection but my phone died when I left it in the car overnight and speaking of which, I still haven’t gotten that rusty spot painted over and winter’s coming.”
And my mother will say, “I’m concerned that this surprises you.”
And I’ll say, “It doesn’t surprise me, it’s just my life, I’m used to it. But I still feel like I have to explain to you why everything’s in a shambles all the time.”
And she says, “You have to learn to embrace the chaos.”
Now that is a powerful sentence.
I had a mental picture of giant arms wrapping around a maelstrom of laundry, children, messy beds, lost shoes, spilled food, and undone paperwork whipping around like snowflakes in a blizzard.
I guess I embrace it in a way, because I have no other choice. I always say the most important task rises to the top, and it gets done, though maybe half-assed. I’ve had to learn how to get what I need done while cooking dinner, spelling words and shouting out multiplication answers for homework help, and trying not to trip over the cat who hasn’t been fed all day.
And that’s annoying. I want a block of quiet time to unclutter my brain. It’s frustrating not being able to sit down with a cup of coffee and plan the day in front of me: here’s what I need to get done, let me pay these bills, oh what a nice article in the paper, look at email/facebook/texts, make sure the appointments are on the calendar, check off done done done on the to-do list.
Ha. I wouldn’t even have a spot to sit down.
And even if I did, I’d hear “Mommy!” within 46 seconds.
But then I remember what Pam said one time when I was running off to a baseball game and had forgotten a plan we’d made. Instead of being mad she just told me, “I miss all that.”
And I knew exactly what she meant. Someday I will be organized and my house will be spotless – because it will be uninhabited by children. So I’m really, honestly going to embrace this chaos and just keep smiling.