I get a lot of comments these days saying something to the effect of, “I don’t know how you keep up with all the things you’re doing. You must be superwoman!”
While I do appreciate this sentiment, the truth is I am not superwoman. Actually, I’m not super-anything. I don’t have any super powers, unless you count my ability to sense when the toddler is up to no good, and I could never pull off a skin tight super hero outfit.
I am ordinary…and that’s okay.
Most of us are ordinary. Perhaps even all of us are ordinary (unless you happen to be the actual superwoman reading this, in which case I’m willing to concede that you are more than ordinary).
We’re all doing the best we can inside each of our unique circumstances.
I used to think that in order to be successful, one had to be constantly in motion. But the more I push my way through this ordinary life of mine, the more I realize that success comes in the quiet moments – those quiet pockets of time when the frenzy dies down.
A few years ago, I attended a conference that was designed specifically for moms. On the second day, a woman stood in front of us, and she acknowledged the obvious: Moms don’t have a lot of time.
“What do you do,” she asked, “when you want to build your business, but the children are clamoring at your feet, and the moments in your day are parsed out?”
I leaned forward, ready to accept her answer to this question that often left me befuddled.
“You do one thing every day,” she said. The room was silent as a hundred moms with dreams soaked in this freeing nugget of wisdom.
“You can’t do all the things when you’re a mom, but you can do one thing. So do one thing every day that helps grow your business, develops your ideas, makes you money – whatever it is you’re working toward, keep pressing on, one step at a time.”
Yesterday was one of those days that seemed to spiral out of control. Between homeschool and toddlerhood, and all the life that crept into the cracks of my day, I found myself antsy and frustrated.
There simply wasn’t any time yesterday for me to sit and work.
By 8:00, I felt panic beginning to well up in my chest. I just wanted the kids to go to bed so the house would grow quiet, and I could find a moment to complete a thought.
It was 9:30 before I found that moment, and by then I was so exhausted the thoughts were tangled together, and I just wanted to go to bed myself, but I knew that if I could do just one thing I’d sleep a little more soundly.
As a writer, I’m finding this process of marketing books in the new media age to be rather intimidating. I’m not good with video or images – I’m a word girl. Facebook is my happy place because WORDS, all the WORDS!
Instagram bores me, and Pinterest intimidates me, and don’t even get me started on Periscope. But I need to step outside of this little comfortable box of mine, and I need to learn how to better utilize these online tools. So before bed, I went to Pinterest and poked around a bit.
I added a few photos to some character boards I’m developing for my book launch, and I looked at what other authors are doing on that platform.
This didn’t take a lot of time, and it didn’t require me to formulate any ideas. This was my one thing and it was all I had, but you know what?
I slept like a rock last night.
Doing one thing every day frees us up to enjoy the bigger picture. This season of my mothering life doesn’t offer loads of free time. I’ve got slivers of time in each day, and so I have to utilize those slivers to the best of my ability.
I slept so well last night because I went to bed knowing I’d done one thing. I didn’t toss and turn all night, chasing down ideas or fighting bitterness at all the stolen hours of my day. I felt a peace knowing I’d done something – one something – to get better at my job.
There will be other days when I can conquer my to-do list; days when the house is quiet and I can do a slew of book-related things. But those days are not the norm.
So I’ll keep doing one thing every day, then focus my attention on the children clamoring at my feet. And in this way, I manage to survive this ordinary, maybe even slightly extraordinary, life.
It’s really dark right now. I’m wrapped in a blanket, because we like to keep the air set at Arctic Tundra during the nighttime hours, and I desperately long for a cup of coffee, but the coffee pot is loud, so I’m forcing myself to wait until a more reasonable time so that I don’t wake sleeping children.
Because waking a child before she’s ready is akin to waking a sleeping bear – you just don’t do it.
I really wish I was still in my bed. I love my bed. It’s comfortable, soft, warm, and I don’t spend enough time there. But I pulled myself from the covers this morning long before the sun peeked over the horizon because this is my when.
Fitting me-time into our busy days is a challenge, especially as we near the end of summer. I desperately want to be present during these last few days, but I also desperately want to escape, because end of summer brings extra drama.
They are tired of one another, and of me. And I am, quite frankly, tired of them. Days have fallen into one long battle as I war against wanting to let them just sit in front of the TV and do nothing, and forcing them to play outside because they’re turning into little zombies.
This is generally the time of year when I convince myself that hours of screen time is actually good for them. Those hours of the day spent on Minecraft, FIFA World Cup, MLB Baseball for Play Station, and all the movies and TV shows they’re watching are molding and shaping them into the beautiful minds that will lead our future. Boom!
I am a good mom.
Despite these obvious parenting successes I’m having, I am trying to engage and be fully in the moment, but there’s also work to be done, and the work is my breathing space. If I don’t tap into it now and again, I get antsy, frustrated even. So I have to find the when in order to engage the part of my brain, and my soul, that needs these breathing moments of solitude.
This is a common feeling for all mothers. Especially this time of year. Whether moms work inside or outside the home, we all long for that breathing space – the place where we can disengage from the motherly work, and reengage with the parts of ourselves that were there before children.
I think back to three years ago, at the height of my blogging “career,” and I wonder what kind of crack I was smoking that allowed me to blog every single day. How did I do that?! Where did I find that time?
Then I remember that the kids were younger, we didn’t have a fourth baby, I wasn’t under contract to write two books, my husband didn’t travel weekly, and life was a little less complicated. There was some natural breathing room in our daily routine, which has since been siphoned off steadily until you find me now.
Huddled under a blanket while the sun laughs at me from beneath the horizon.
Even as I type these words, I hear the baby making her wake up sounds. Intermittent cries with a little babbling mixed in assaults the reverie of this silent morning, and remind me that this is the nature of this season of my life. It’s noisy, and it’s hectic. As soon as little feet hit the floor it’s 90-nothing until the sun sets back down again.
So I sneak the solitude in when I can, and I do the things that fill me with joy. Books, writing, blogging. A little here, a little there. And somehow it’s working.
The manuscript for my novel is turned in for edits.
Wendy and I are now refining our joint book, the messages slowly coming together to form a beautiful, cohesive encouragement to moms like us – artistic moms who are clawing their way to the art in the cracks of their day.
I’m getting at least one blog a week up. That feels like a monumental win these days!
It’s not perfect, this system of mine. But this isn’t the season of life to strive for perfection. If the kids are dressed and fed, then I consider it a good day.
And by dressed and fed, I mean they have clothes on (Oh, those shorts are way too small for you? Just..whatever), and they’ve eaten food (Cold, leftover pizza for breakfast? Just…whatever).
How are you doing, moms? How do you fit in your when? And are you kids eating genuine meals, or are you just pretending that pretzels dipped in ranch is an actual lunch like me?
“I don’t know how you’re doing it all.”
I’ve heard that phrase over and over since I announced that I was having not one, but two books published next year. And homeschooling on top of that. And my reply is always the same.
(And then I secretly wonder if I should have said Me either, because now that I’m all I’M A WRITER WITH BOOKS COMING OUT, I feel like I should edit every word that comes from my mouth. It’s a very difficult place to be, inside my head.)
But it’s the truth – I don’t know how I’m doing it all. Although I can say with certainty, I am not doing it all well most of the time. And I’m okay with that.
My house is messy, and my kids haven’t eaten what you might call nutritionally well rounded meals every day. Some of that is just summertime. I can’t be expected to keep up with all of their dietary needs three meals a day, every day when they’re home all the time with zero semblance of routine.
I just can’t.
And my house isn’t clean. It’s not a disaster. A little here and there every day means that the house is functional…but it wouldn’t pass Mary Poppins’ white glove test, either.
I can’t seem to find time to blog these days, and I really do miss it. But life, you know? It’s busy and full, and seriously my brain is in constant motion as I think about all the things I need to do to launch two books in the next twelve months.
I’m finishing writing one, while anticipating the edits for another. I’m formulating marketing plans, contest ideas, making connections and partnerships, preparing for a minor site redesign, and even tossing around writing a couple of ebooks to give away for free.
Because, you know – there’s too much down time in my days.
When I have a minute to sit still, I go through homeschool curriculum, and I’m familiarizing myself with the books and their formats. I have our first two weeks of lesson plans almost all filled out, and I’m wrapping my mind around how each day will operate when we officially start.
And in between all of that, I’m trying not to miss my kids. These days are just so hectic. Even if I wasn’t doing all of these other things on the side, though, not missing my kid’s summer days is a tough order. Because honestly, they don’t really want to sit around and hang out with me.
They want to be with friends and play games. They’re going to camp, and they’re swimming, and I’m happy they’re having so much fun. I don’t feel like I’m missing it. I’m sort of watching it from the periphery, and that’s okay.
So I have a survival plan in place, and somehow it’s all working. There are, however, a couple of pieces missing in my ultimate plan of survival. And these missing pieces are causing some problems.
Sleep and exercise. I’m tired, and sluggish. Both things need to improve, or I really won’t survive these next twelve months, no matter how airtight my plan may be. So I’m working on that.
This is all the challenge of motherhood and working. I’m not complaining – not by a long shot. My days are sweet and full, and for the most part I am enjoying them, even if I’m slightly overwhelmed. And truth be told, I know this won’t last long. These hectic days will be gone in an instant, and maybe I’ll miss them.
Or maybe I won’t.
I don’t really know, nor do I much care because today I have enough to think about. So I’m not going to worry if I’m doing too much or too little. I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and crossing things off my never ending to-do list.
I’m just here for the ride.
Tell me, moms. How are you all doing with the crazy hectic fatigue of it all? How do you work sleeping, eating well, and exercise into your crazy packed days? I’m open to suggestions for how to make this all work.