There is this episode of Sesame Street right now about Grover trying to do it all. He tries to cook, play basketball, paint and more all at one time and it is a disaster. The song he sings is so catchy and has been stuck in my head for quite a while. At first I found it annoying, but now I find it a refreshing reminder of how I want to live my life.
I grew up in a house that was picture perfect. Every wall was carefully hand stenciled by my mom. Shelves were perfectly arranged and pictures meticulously curated. Quilts and drapes were handmade, furniture was high-end and everything within view was clean and tidy.
It was a beautiful childhood and one that I was blessed to have. It was different from how I want my child to be raised, though. You see, while our home was spectacular, our clothing perfect and often handmade, and all the details always spot-on, we did not go out for weekday adventures. We did not go to story time at libraries, to public playgrounds or to playdates. My mom also sacrificed all of herself for her children; her sole purpose was to care for my brother and I. I have no memory of my mom taking regular time for herself to workout or get a haircut or just sit alone in the tub. She did not have a job outside of caring for her kids.
I struggle daily with trying to do it all – a perfect house, extraordinary adventures, nourishing homemade meals, time for myself to workout and write, trying to start a career… the list goes on and on. For the last two years I have daily panics about something not getting done and I beat myself up repeatedly about why I can’t do it all. There is a lot of self-deprecation going on about a dirty floor and it is, honestly, ridiculous.
Much like Grover, I’m learning that I just can’t do it all. Something has to give. A perfectly clean house means that we can’t take a hike. Taking a long adventure to see farm animals means we order takeout. Working out in the morning means dirty dishes have to wait until that evening… or the next day… or maybe – gasp – the next!
I’m learning to accept these gives and takes so Sabine can have the childhood I want her to have. I want her days to be exciting. I want her home to be tidy and functional, and her meals to be delicious and nourishing. I want her mama – me – to be sane, strong and fit. I want it all, but all of it can’t happen 24-7. So I’m learning to pick-and-choose each day.
Today, my house will be slightly crusty when my cousins arrive, but I’ll have worked out and taken a little time to write, meaning I’ll feel better about myself and have more patience with my kid. And that is a 100% acceptable tradeoff.