You know, how they juggle their sanity along with their 10 children, the housework, shopping, keeping everyone happy, having friends, hobbies, and a dating life with their husbands as well.
I seem to be having a hard time with these things lately and find myself wondering if there is something wrong with me and why I can't seem to stay on top of things, while other women can.
I really do know women like this.
They have immaculately clean homes, their children have organized times during the day for crafts, playtime, meals, and learning. They get their baths every single night, and have folded laundry and clean sheets. These women also have time to go to lunch with their girlfriends, shop for the latest fashions, and have date night with their husbands once a week.
I seem to get a lot of comments from other people that I "do so much". One friend told me "I don't know how you get so much done, it's amazing."
Okay, hold on right there. I must have people fooled, because let's create a real picture here for you. If you seem to think I have it "together", think again...
This morning my 3 year old woke up in sopping wet pajamas from wetting the bed during the middle of the night. Not only did his entire room smell like urine, but it lingered down the hallway as well. And because I was in a hurry to get to my morning training session, we just ripped those wet jammies off as fast as possible, threw them on the floor, put clean underwear and clothes on and went out the door. He never got a bath and the wet jammies stayed on the floor all day, as well as the dirty sheets because I was not home to take care of them.
Last night, we made macaroni and cheese for dinner, and I decided to see if our 11 month old was coordinated enough to handle feeding himself bites of it from his high chair tray. After leaving the room for 10 minutes, I came back to find the entire floor around his chair covered in orange noodles, and several caked in his hair as well. The pasta stayed on the floor until tonight when I finally managed to find a moment to sweep the floor.
Today my boys and I went to Costco to go grocery shopping because I had waited so long to go that we literally had barely any food in our fridge, so I thought we would just pick up something to eat while we were shopping. Well, aside from a few animal crackers that we got at Costco they never ate lunch, fell asleep in the car, and then as planned I dropped them off at Grandma and Grandpa's house, unfed and sleep deprived (their naps were only about 20 min long). I had to call G&G later in a worried frantic state to tell them that my kids hadn't eaten and they are probably starving, and that I felt terrible that they didn't eat lunch!
My hubby and I have rented redbox movies, planning to watch them, only to find ourselves still on our computers at 11pm just trying to clean out inboxes and pay bills, read things we need to catch up on, get work done and other nonsense that we don't get a chance to do during the day. By the time we are finished, we're so exhausted that we both crash into bed and fall asleep. I think it's actually been months since we've watched a movie together or had a real date due to just trying to keep up with the busy day to day tasks.
Is it obvious that I've been feeling like a really bad wife and mother lately?
I didn't used to be this way.
My big confession is that I have found my crazy busy stressful life has only really emerged since Will became gainfully employed. Please. Before I go any further, don't misunderstand - we are both incredibly happy about his job and excited that he is working for a wonderful company and that after such a long stint of unemployment that he's, well, employed.
The transition from having a full-time at-home husband to help out, to me being the full-time sole parent 18 hours a day came fast. To be more accurate, there was NO transition. One day we were on summer vacation in California and found out he had been hired, and a week later BOOM he was commuting 5 hours a day and working 10.
Even though we were always prayerful that he would find a job, I was secretly glad he was at home. If I needed time to work (on music), he would watch the boys for me. We shared in dish duty, and day-to-day tasks were somewhat more equally distributed. We got to spend a lot of time together and always knew what was going on with each other.
Now that he's back at work, and I'm at home doing all of that stuff myself, I have to say that it's been so hard. Today was a top notch hard day for me, and found myself trying to go through my head and figure out how I could possibly lighten my load and not be so stressed. How can I possibly keep my home clean, be this awesome attentive mom, an available wife, and also be a working musician? I have wondered, am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing?
I know from my Patriarchal blessing that I am supposed to be doing music. It is a part of my life and I was destined to do it and Heavenly Father expects me to do it. And so part of me wonders, does He cut me any slack for not always keeping a clean house and spic-n-span kids? One can hope, right?
A few years ago, I remember visiting a gal in my ward (I was her visiting teacher), and she told me that she had just been having a really rough time with her kids lately. There was a lot of contention in her home with them, and she was always feeling really stressed. One day she felt this impression that she needed to be sure to read her scriptures every day. So she started doing it, and she told me that it was really amazing to see the difference in her home. It was probably because she was able to handle the stress better and her children could sense the spirit better with her having a better purpose throughout her day.
I've thought of that so often. And now that I have a similar situation of my own, I find myself feeling that same inspiration. So I'm going to make a great effort to be sure that I start my day out that way. Hopefully with that little boost every morning I'll find the serenity to handle situations better and with more confidence and ease.
Another thing that I'm really going to try to work on is the cleaning. I really struggle with this - NOT because I'm not a clean person. Actually, if you remember, Will and I used to be apartment managers before we had our two little boys. We did it for about 2 years and our apartment home was used as the leasing office for a good part of that time, and so I always had to make sure that it was super clean. And we also turned the apartments ourselves too - so when someone moved out we would go in and clean it and fix it up again. I learned some hardcore cleaning skills, let me tell ya! And it got to be a good habit to keep our home clean all of the time.
But now with a 3 year old who leaves a trail of toys, underwear, dirty socks, and food everywhere he goes throughout the house, and an 11 month old who likes to chuck his food off of his high chair onto the floor, and tear apart cupboards...well...it's been a trial to keep the house clean. And honestly, a lot of the time, I surrender to it. It feels too overwhelming to keep up with it at times, and you start to ask yourself what is the point of cleaning this room when in 3 hours from now it's going to be messy all over again? And trying to put the effort forth to prevent my children from messing it up is even more stressful.
Today, after a series of consecutive stressful days, it dawned on me that a big part of my overwhelmed-ness was coming from the fact that our house was a total disaster and it was eating at me. If I could at least have my house clean, a good portion of stress would be eleviated and I would feel more at liberty to concentrate on other things that I needed to do. It's not that I just don't clean, it's just that I haven't had the TIME to clean. So it's a new goal of mine to do more daily pick-ups instead of waiting until things turn into the huge undesirable stage before we clean.
All things considered though, back to my original question, I do wonder how many other women out there do these things. What are their organization secrets? How do they teach their children to clean? How do they not get too overwhelmed?
I know that life with little kids is not meant to be perfect all of the time and that I do need to be easier on myself, but I hope I can find a balance of striving to be the best I can and yet not feeling bad if I fall short of perfect.
And by the way, I married an awesome guy. He emailed me today and told me he is trying to line up a babysitter for me so that next week I can have an entire day to myself in my music studio. :)
This has been a soul searching reflective probably way too wordy post by Jenni. Out.
P.S. If you enlarge that picture of me above, you'll see that I have encrusted mashed baby food on my shoulder. Niiiiiice.