My life is about to get crazy. Not we’ve-got-a-few-busy-weekends crazy, more like I’m traveling to Arizona (by myself with two kids), Louisville (for work during the week, which means I need babysitters), Mississippi (again, need babysitters which I don’t have yet), and Chicago over the next five weeks. The only weekend I have off is Halloween and I’m co-hosting a Zombie Prom for over a hundred of my nearest and dearest.
I’ve been simultaneously dreading and anticipating October for almost six months. For so long it seemed far in the future - too far to really do any planning. Now all of a sudden, I’ve crested the hill of the roller coaster and I’ve forgotten to fasten my seatbelt. There are reservations to be made, babysitting and dogsitting to be lined up, and projects to complete before I leave town. Not to mention, I’ve been neglecting laundry, cleaning, and an assortment of other every day tasks.
On top of it all, I have this perverse reaction to stress. The more overextended and anxious I become the more I agree to do. It’s like a compulsion. I am being crushed my the weight of my to do list and still I’m full of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to every project, party, or volunteer opportunity that come my way.
“Sure, I can spend two hours icing cupcakes!
“Of course, I can go sit with your sick Aunt Hazel for four hours tomorrow!”
“A surprise party for fifty?!? How can I help?”
What is wrong with me!?!?
I recently read Frugal Mama’s explanation of why she is giving up the business side of blogging to focus on her family and her craft. After some success, she realized she had been neglecting what really mattered for elusive goals that didn’t reap in benefits what they cost her in time and energy. After unplugging for a few weeks this summer, she argued, “By silencing the urgent, I was able to hear the important.”
Whoa. Reading that sentence felt like a slap in the face. Balancing the urgent with the important is something I have always struggled with. The urgent is so demanding! It's so needy! And as a result, the urgent is currently consuming my life. I am spending a substantial amount of time trying to keep my head above water. Meanwhile, the things I really love are not getting the attention they really need, including - if I’m being honest - my two boys.
The more stressed I get the more hurried I become and the more hurried I am the less patience I have. Zero patience means more yelling and anger and less time for stories, crafts, hugs, and attention.
Yesterday Griffin was trying to put his underwear on himself. Normally, I would work with him as long as it took but we were in hurry. I jerked it away and told him it wasn’t THAT hard and to just let me do it.
“Mommy, you are being mean to me!”
I felt about two inches tall. I apologized and hugged him but I still felt awful.
BUT... I can’t NOT go on these trips. I can’t NOT do my work. The list of have-to’s and must-do’s is so very, very long - even in the face of mean mommy syndrome. Of course, what I can do is stop saying yes. What I can do is prioritize as best I can and realize somethings are just not going to get done.
Still, I can’t help but hunger for a better solution. A way to make everything SLOW DOWN so I can just get a better grasp ... or dare I say a tiny amount ahead of the game.
What about you? How do you deal with the chaos or those overwhelming moments when you feel like there is and will never be enough of you to go around?
~ Sarah Stewart Holland