Ever have one of those weeks you know only Super Woman could actually accomplish everything on the To Do list? Sure you have. We all have. Last week was one of those weeks for me. Add to the appearance of symbolic equations on my calendar one phone call from the school to alert me of a sick child and multiple text messages from the teacher of another child asking for medicine and you have an idea of where I found myself Thursday afternoon.
Thankfully it was my husband’s school at which I was subbing when the sick call came, so we were able to compare schedules to figure out how best to handle the situation. An hour later, I was home with two somewhat sick kiddos. Neither was in a snuggling mood, so I set off on the next project.
My sub plans for Friday fell through with the addition of sick kid #1, allowing a bit of time to catch up on some things at home because oh my word, he was fine by morning!
I found myself in a conversation with a mentor discussing whether or not I actually can do it all. Let me assure you, the answer is, “No.” Simply put, no one can. But I think we all do a pretty good job of masquerading that fact.
In the last few months, I’ve had three different conversations with ladies of whom I am particularly close. Though they are each younger than me, I look up to all three of them not because of the great and wonderful things they do, but because of who they are. Each one of them successful in their own lives, but each one of them dealing with some stuff life has thrown at them lately. Though they have been an inspiration to me at various points in my life, each of them were battling their own self-doubts; comparing themselves to what they see in others.
Friends, it is important to realize that what we see in others is our perception. It is only the surface. We know not what battles they fight each and every day. We know not what lies beneath the surface. We know what we see. We know what we read on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. It is so very important to realize that when we begin that awful comparison game between us and them, that we are comparing our bloopers roll (the stark realities of our lives) with their highlights reels (only the portion they choose to share). We are each created in our Father’s image. We each have purpose in Him. We may not feel we are living the dream or anything even close to what we had imagined our lives would be, but we are living in His plan, His time, His purpose.
And yet, I still get the question, “But how do you do it all?”
It’s very simple. I don’t. I don’t do it all. I don’t do nearly even half of all. But I do what I can knowing God’s got this.
For those who want the nitty gritty, we have a master calendar on the wall. I used to use a flip type calendar, but we flipped it back and forth so much the nail came out of the wall, so now all 12 months are taped on the wall. That’s right, taped right to the wall. (How’s that for a blooper’s reel?) It’s a chic preK handprint calendar, but I’ll tell you what, nothing makes me smile bigger than seeing the pride in our little girl’s eyes when she sees me pouring over the Christmas gift she so lovingly crafted for us.
This wall calendar, it’s a mess, but it works for me. Certain areas of our lives have their own color. My sub days and photography shoots are in green. The kids’ play practices are highlighted in orange. Everything else is in black. It’s okay if it doesn’t make sense to you, it works for me.
The problem is my husband isn’t so much a calendar on the wall kind of guy. He’s more the let’s use technology to our advantage and put everything on our handheld devices kind of guy. I am not the tech savvy wife I’m guessing he may have hoped for in his younger years, but he has looked past it and we have remained happily married for nearly 18 years now. And I have to admit, I don’t carry the wall calendar around in my pocket, so technology definitely has its advantages.
There are many different calendaring apps available for android and i-devices, but we use the standard one and it works like a charm, as long as someone remembers to put everything the kids have going into it. (Yes, that would be me and yes, I’m getting better.)
How do I do it all? That’s the big one right there: having it all laid out in front of me. Equally important, recognizing when I can’t do it all by myself and asking for help. The reality is there are seven of us, five of whom cannot legally drive, yet often are the cause of running here, there, and yonder.
Along the way, I have met and become friends with parents of my children’s friends. These people are invaluable just for the sake of friendship and camaraderie and realizing you’re not completely losing your mind. Add to the reality that your children are in three different school buildings in two different towns and rehearsals and basketball practices, of course, are at the north campus 13 miles from home and those friends become your lifeline to getting everyone where they need to be.
When I answer, “I don’t do it all.” I need you to understand, I’m not playing the martyr here. I really don’t do it all. My house is not in company condition every day, or realistically any day. I am behind in communications most days. Heck, if we’re being honest here, if you didn’t get a Christmas card from us this year, don’t be hurt, you aren’t the only ones. The vast majority of them are still sitting right here on the desk, right beside me, waiting for someone, anyone, to address them for me.
The laundry is never completely done. Even when the washing and drying are caught up, it’s not put away. I distinctly remember telling Chris when the twins were babies that his clothes were clean. They weren’t put away, but they were clean and as long as I could say that, I felt like I hadn’t totally lost the battle. That was 11 years and two kids ago and I am still living by that motto.
I grew up in a home that was never cluttered and never dirty. I don’t ever remember seeing any dust bunnies, much less anything even remotely resembling the full grow dirt rabbits that have taken residence under our furniture. Most nights, we set the table out of the dishwasher because those dishes are clean so we may as well use them as opposed to putting them away just to get different ones out.
Many things about our home are different than the way we grew up, and that’s okay. Neither is inherently right or wrong, just different and we’ve had to become okay with that. We have a large, busy family, and as such, I’ve had to let go of some things that still make me cringe if I don’t get to them before our parents visit just because I know it’s not how we were raised. But we are a family of seven, not four. We are 13 miles from our son’s school, not three. We are a spectrum family, not a neurotypical one. So, yes, sometimes we leave a mess so we can sit to hold a crying child for upwards of an hour because the movie he wants to watch is back at the library. Sometimes, we leave a chore for tomorrow because today is the day we are all at home and it’s our only chance to be together all week, or perhaps today is the day Ben wants to play with us and we just don’t know when we’ll get that chance again. Sometimes, we sing and dance and jump and (gasp) run in the house because our spectrum boy needs a sensory outlet for his energy and it’s just too cold or muddy for him outside. Sometimes I leave dirty dishes on the counter because darn it, I’m just plain beat. If it’s been an autism day (a really hard, loud, challenging day) I feel like it’s been a week inside 24 hours and I just need to rest. What I’ve learned through all of this is that it’s okay.
It’s okay if my house isn’t in perfect order. It’s okay if I need to call on friends for rides for my kids because I can’t fit everything in one day or even just because Ben needs to have some down time at home and I can’t leave him here alone. It’s okay if I can’t always see God’s purpose, I can trust in Him and bask in the peace His presence gives me.