Stephanie Totty is contributing today, and I LOVE this message. It’s certainly a great reminder for me right now. There is no possible way I’ll get everything done this crazy time of year. AND THAT IS OK.
This has always been my favorite time of year. For the most part, I grew up on the East Coast, and I always loved the leaves changing, going to the pumpkin patch, starting back to school (ahem: new school supplies), and the holidays. My parents always had something fun planned for us – something as small as the Fall Festival at my school, or as big as a weekend camping trip to the Appalachian Mountains.
I look back at my childhood and one huge thing resonates with me: how the hell did my parents have time for all of this, and more importantly, how the hell did they stay sane throughout?
No really, I look back at those years as an elementary-aged kid – at all the dance/gymnastics/ice skating/horse-back-riding lessons/Brownies, the weekend road trips, the extra “fun” stuff, the field trip chaperone time, and after thinking “gee, I had such a freaking charmed life”, all I can think about is how the hell my parents stayed sane in during this time in their lives when they were constantly barraged with crap to do, and how they stayed so calm during it all.
Somehow, I must not have inherited their patience because: eff that noise. I am ALWAYS stressed out. Work, the commute, tee-ball practice, family dinners, homework, pumpkin patches, school book fairs, grocery shopping, hire someone to trim our trees, oops the water heater has exploded, car needs an oil change, clean the house, work trip, schedule family photos … all of this piles on top of itself in my brain and I have small (okay, huge) mental meltdowns at least twice a week.
And it’s not like I work any harder or have any special circumstances making things *really* hard – my kids are healthy, my family is stable and nearby for help, we have a small but nice house to come home to in the evenings. There are people out there with REAL reasons to be stressed out on a daily basis – I am not one of them.
All that said, as a working mom, I frequently get asked “Oh my gosh, how do you do it all? How do you juggle a long day at work, and then all the house and kid’s stuff?!”
The answer is: I don’t.
We ditched my oldest’s tee-ball practice because it was the only night we were going to be able to get to the local pumpkin patch as a family. My yard is a freaking disaster zone. I haven’t dusted the furniture in our master bedroom in probably several months. My car is 3k miles overdo for an oil change. We don’t always have home-cooked meals at the table in the evenings.
But here’s the thing – in order to maintain my sanity, I have given myself permission to NOT do it all. When the mental checklist in my head is so long it’s now unraveled all the way to my toes, I just tell myself “this will not all get done, pick out the things that MUST happen, and ignore the rest until next week”. And when next week rolls around? Rinse, repeat.
In reality, I know my parents weren’t perfect, they didn’t always have it together. I know they got stressed, I know they argued, I know they had their breakdowns – but those aren’t the moments I remember as a now-grown adult. Hopefully, that’s what my boys will say when they grow up, that they don’t remember the things that didn’t happen, they only remember the fun things that did happen.
Some people might call this philosophy “half-ass parenthood”, I call it “enjoying life”. Which, in the end, is the most important part, right? Not hitting every single item on the checklist, but enjoying the ones that we’re able to make happen.
You can read more of Stephanie’s work at her personal blog FroggyAndTheMouse.com
What are some things you will probably not get checked off your list this year? I’m giving up the dream of decorating the outside of our home to look like a gingerbread house, and putting up decorations in a freshly, fully repainted home. And also probably things like being able to park in the garage or walk through our playroom.