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Grover just couldn’t do it all (and neither can I)

10/30/2015

Belle

servicesThere 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.

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3 Comments

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  1. October 30, 2015

    Yes! Yes to all of this! Also, letting it slide when you don’t get the husband’s lunch made for him to take to work…

    One thing that I’ve found helpful recently is a cleaning schedule. NOT because it helps me to get it all done, but because it allows me the flexibility to NOT do it all. I shall explain: normally, if I don’t have time or energy to do something (say, change and wash the bedding), I then stress out about it because it’s constantly floating around in the back of my mind that I need to find the time/energy to do it — it just takes up so much darn brain power to constantly be thinking about how you should be doing something, but not be doing it. It’s exhausting! Now, with the cleaning schedule, I have it printed out to change the bedding every Wednesday. If I do it, awesome! We have clean sheets and I feel like super Mama/Wife. If I don’t do it though, and here’s the truly amazing and freeing part, I just let. it. be. The week will roll by again, and on the next Wednesday, I’ll do it. We’ll have clean sheets again in another week. (I hope I’m not grossing anyone out by admitting that we sometimes go two weeks without clean sheets, now that I’m saying this, I’m getting really embarrassed…). Anyho, what I’m trying to say, is that there’s something about the schedule that allows me the space to not do things if it’s just too much to do them. I know they’ll get done eventually, and I don’t need to take brain space up trying to remember, and therefore continually beating myself up.

    You sound like such the most awesome Mama, and I think it’s so very wonderful that you spend so much time taking Sabine places. She’s such a lucky little girl. Doesn’t matter if the floor is grubby if you’re out and about having fun anyway ;-)!

  2. jak #
    October 30, 2015

    So. True.

    when my toddler was a baby i asked a working mom friend at my firm who was not only working full time like me, but also teaching an evening class at a college, “how do you possibly manage?! i’m falling apart.” she said, “well. um. we tolerate messes.” and that was some of the best advice ever.

  3. October 31, 2015

    Well, you know what its just you putting pressure on yourself without realising the generation was different. Back then when we were growing up, most moms were home makers. They were trained by their moms to have the perfect family and if you were to ask your
    Mom she will tell the same thing, she coulndt do all what her mom did. Well that is because you are looking as an adult trhough the perceptions you formed as a child. maybe your
    Mom struggled too, she just never let you or your brother see it, just like you wont let Sabine see yours.

    I think you are on a wonderful path, and yes it is not possible to have it all today. As long as you tick the must haves daily, who cares about the rest? They
    Will get done eventually, time and life is too short to strive for the pretense of perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect because perfect is a shifting goal.
    Good Luck!!

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