cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

how I do it "all" - February 23, 2005

Lately my friends have been asking, "how do you do it all, Sarah?" And sometimes when I return from my third meeting in three nights, I sit and think to myself, how do I do it?

The answer is, I have no idea. NONE! I don't do it all, to start with; I could make long lists of the things that aren't done. Did I mention I didn't file my taxes until October in 2003? Last year, I extended for no good reason and filed them on the extension deadline (August 15 to be exact). I haven't had my hair cut in 18 months. I give Everett a bath about once a week, when I'm energetic. I'm habitually late to everything, and I have at least a dozen projects I've started and not finished scattered around the house. Make that two dozen. And then there are the forgotten phone calls, the lists made months ago but never completed, the eighth-order priorities that slid off the table altogether. Umm, dusting? Hah! Not happening in this house, baby. I still haven't childproofed for Everett.

Yet my classic overachiever personality keeps taking more on. It's partly because I thrive on being busy; the busier I am, the more I get done. It was true my junior year in high school, it's true now. I can't focus on one thing for more than a couple of hours. If I have something new to do every 30 minutes, well, I'm in heaven.

That doesn't mean that I'm efficient, or on top of things, or even sane. But I am happy, energized, thriving with my dozens of activities and responsibilities. I wonder sometimes if I'll get it all done; I worry every day about letting someone down, and I'm always remembering things that I've forgotten. But somehow, I get the important stuff done, barely on time, good enough. And a few hours of Thomas-laced sleep and I'm on to the next priority.

The head coach for my track team said today something along the lines of, "think about what you're doing while you're doing it; be present." It's great advice, and I realized that the more I'm present in my immediate task, the more efficient I am, the better I work, the more I get accomplished. It's super hard to do, though, when the "mama" part of you is always mixed in. When you have to leave your athletes to tend to a 2-year-old who just jumped in the slime puddle that is the pole vault pit. When you are hearing "come, come, come! play WITH ME!" while you're trying to type an important email.

But some of the time, when I'm not juggling Everett's needs and work, I can be present, I can do it all. But I can never do it all. You see?