Fall 2017 was an epic period of stress for me. I genuinely thought that back-to-school in the Fall would bring the chaos level down a notch. I thought the regular schedule would smooth things out.
It turns out the the morning bus schedule, afternoon bus schedule, preschool pick-up/drop-off schedule, plus Brownies, Daises, soccer etc. etc. etc. is more demanding than 5 kids home for the Summer. All while working of course. And potty-training two 2-year-olds.
Fortunately I do find a lot of joy in the kids’ activities, so the tasks themselves are good (sans potty training) – but the whirlwind of always being “on the clock” is SO draining. Add in the time commitments for work and the nanny, I’m always rushing to one place or the other.
Last week I finally broke. What I was dealing with at work was so dense, so intense, and I felt like there was not enough time in the day (or night) to do the work and live life. Feeling like a failure I turned into a child and just wanted my mom to fix everything. My train of thought reminded me of something she used to say of the days her and my dad were still raising us 6 kids: We didn’t know what we were doing.
I always thought that was an odd thing to say. My father was a successful businessman and my mother was a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps, and they had 6 kids. I’m fourth in the line-up. They always seemed (and still do) quite sure of themselves in decision making and in giving advice, so the comment “We didn’t know what we were doing” seemed like an attempt to be modest and funny.
Now with some real life experience under my belt, I’m sure my mom was being quite literal. I have hopes for my children, aspirations for myself….but I don’t actually know what I’m doing. I do a lot of hoping. I try, and I constantly try to get better…but it’s trial and error and I have yet to find any magic answers.
This Christmas I’m giving myself the gift of self-awareness and acceptance. I’m capable of a lot of amazing things, just not all at once. Sometimes my goals are to raise happy and well-rounded children, and sometimes my goals are to have them out of the bath by 7 p.m. Sometimes I’m so stressed from work that it ruins my day and I stress more because I’m setting a poor example for my kids. Sometimes I feel completely balanced with work and am proud of what my kids see me do.
I’m inconsistent and changing from week to week. Reflecting on my mom’s confession makes me feel reassured somehow. At home I’m exiting the “baby years,” but now facing new challenges with school-aged kids. At work I’m no longer the new or young one, but the experience brings pressure along with the knowledge base.
I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I’ll keep my lofty goals where they are.