The All Of It All

by ParentCo. January 26, 2016

So often I try to “do it all” in the most over-used, traditional doing-it-all way: I try to act as both a stay-at-home mom and a full-time-working mom. For those of you that are thinking “Hey, Einstein—the laws of physics and gravity and the time/space continuum actually prevent that from being possible.” Well. Yes. Apparently you are right. Many weeks start off innocently enough—with a few planned doctor appointments and volunteer obligations at my children’s school, carefully scheduled throughout an already busy work week of meetings and presentations. But then a myriad of unscheduled things undoubtedly occur, like sickness (which mean more doctor appointments). And snow days. And unexpected deadlines. And broken printers.

As a result, I spend much of those weeks running around in crazy circles, punctuated by frequent exclamations of “$#@$*&!!!!!!!” Other weeks start off crazy to begin with, like this one: I’m trying to be prepared for a third week of work travel in a row. I’m trying to contribute to the many Parent Teacher Organization opportunities. I’m trying to keep up with the house, which is laughable.

Two weekends in a row of yard work have left the floors and surfaces smeared with dirt that I am too tired to mop up. Bags from a trip to the store three days ago have been forgotten on the floor. Bags from my last week of travel are yet unpacked, making packing for this week’s travel difficult. I’m trying to prepare for the weekend ahead, which contains a beautiful explosion of celebrations. I’m trying to keep up with this week’s laundry even though last week’s laundry is still not put away.

I’m trying to tackle my inbox, which is teetering dangerously close to neglect. And is that a scratch in my throat? I’m trying to be mindful of checking in on my friends who so desperately need checking in on during extraordinarily difficult times. I’m trying to figure out how to fix the stinkin’ TV when it’s bedtime and the kids just HAVE to watch their usual bedtime shows and the satellite goes out. I’m trying to fit a shower in. I’m trying to follow up with the insurance, drop off the casserole for the neighbors with the new baby, finish the overdue report, fix the broken bike, tend to my sort-of-sick daughter, get situated for next week’s fourth-week-in-a-row-of-travel, and do my nails which are ragged and mulch-stained. And oh, crap when is the last time I fed the fish? … and do I have directions for where I’m going today… and SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? It’s enough to make you go bat-cuss-crazy.

So how do we balance weeks like this? How do we manage to keep it all juggling? How do we “do it all” when all the laws of nature are conspiring against us?

Here’s what I think: trying to do it all is not only treacherous, it’s impossible. There will never be a time when I stand proudly on top of my mountain of “all” and declare it conquered. Instead, I will continue to look at up at that mountain from a place that feels far, far away—so far away that I have to strain my neck to see the top—and I will gulp in nervous anticipation of how to proceed. At least I hope I do. For when I look at the “all” before me, all I can really think is this: how blessed am I?

How blessed to be able to have to deal with all of those things, and more? How delightful to be given so much to tackle? How rich, how full, how beautiful this chaotic and messy life? As the wonderful poet Mary Oliver says, “it is a serious thing / just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.” So, to my list and beyond, I say: Here I come! I’m climbing up that mountain, one “all” at a time. I’ll do some of it well and some of it sort-of-okay and some of it terribly. But I will keep at it, every day. I will show up, arms wide open, gloriously trying. And, in the end, I think that’s good enough for me. Because on those starting-off-innocently weeks or those starting-off-crazy weeks, when it’s 5:00 am, and I have a huge mug of steaming coffee next to me, and the house is quiet save the creaks and groans of the walls and floors that contain so much beautiful chaos, and my sort-of-sick daughter and my oh-then-I-must-be-sick-too son are curled up together in my bed, probably with at least one foot or hand squarely in my wonderful husband’s face, well all I can think to say is thank you. How can you embrace the “all” in your all today?



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