*Originally posted on E, Myself, and I (9/12/13)
I wake up long before the day begins and spend a good thirty minutes having my coffee, reading my Bible, and meditating in the quiet of the house before dawn. Then, I throw on yoga pants and hit the pavement for a sunrise run. I come home sweaty and energized and toss in a load of laundry before jumping in the shower.
I wear a perfectly pressed pencil skirt and starched blouse, and I take time to carefully straighten my hair and complete a full make-up regimen. Before leaving, I switch over the laundry to the dryer, unload the dishwasher (crossing those items off of my “daily chore chart”), and blend a “clean” smoothie with spinach, quinoa, and chia seeds galore. I kiss Jeff and Sam goodbye and quietly tip toe out the door. I am at work by 7AM.
After a fulfilling day of enriching young minds, I come home and continue by orchestrating an elaborate sensory-learning activity for Sam followed by a trip to the playground. There, he plays nicely, and I sip iced
coffee water and chat with the other moms. By five o’clock, Sam is having independent play time in his bedroom while I chop fresh vegetables for our wheat/gluten free dinner and wait to greet Jeff at the door with a smile and cold drink.
The three of us sit down to eat together promptly at six and discuss our days. Afterwards, we go for a family walk or visit with friends on the front porch. At seven, Jeff bathes Sam while I do a “quick clean” of the house and put away the morning’s laundry. By eight, the house is sparkling and still, and I sit down to write a powerful blog post that is sure to go viral and watch a PBS documentary with Jeff.
Um, be honest… Did you just puke in your mouth a little bit at “my” day?
Good, me too. (Let’s be honest, if you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you knew it was all imaginary when I said I went for a run with the sun. Ha!)
Even just typing those paragraphs felt a little ridiculous to me… So full of “catch words” like chore charts and chia and independent play time. Do people really live like that? And, would I really want to if I could.
On the tapes that play over and over and over again in my mind, the answer to both of those questions is YES.
YES, there are women who “do it all” and are still skinny, ironed, and smiling. And, YES, Elizabeth, that is who you want to be. That woman is the gold standard…
Instead, this is my reality:
My alarm goes off at 5AM because there are still dishes that need to be cleaned up from last night’s dinner and lunches to be packed before the day begins. I press snooze until 6 and spend the next thirty minutes running around the house trying to at least make the kitchen look “decent” before the sitter arrives, throwing a frozen meal in my lunch bag, and digging through the dryer to find a clean outfit to wear to work.
I leave the house in a tizzy at 7:15 and send a text to my teaching partner assuring him that I WILL be there by the time class starts at 7:30. My hair is wet, but my coffee is hot…
… In the afternoon, I get home from work while Sam is still napping and choose to use that time to nap (or mindlessly surf the internet) myself. “I deserve it” after a day at work; but, by the time Sam wakes up at four, I’m silently cursing myself for NOT doing a load of laundry, starting dinner, or (at the very least) putting away the bag of toys that has been sitting on our dining room table since the weekend. I will make-up for my laziness now by squeezing in 30 minutes of “play time” and another 30 minutes of mad-dashing around the house in an attempt to cross something off my to-do list before Jeff gets home. On a good day, I make it to a class at the gym, OR I make dinner; but, either one comes at the sacrifice of more time with Sam. If I do those things, that means he will spend at least a portion of the afternoon in the gym childcare center or watching a movie while I cook.
Finding excuses and justifying is easy, it becomes my game.
I’m pawning Sam on Jeff at the door and our “family dinner” is usually interrupted by a temper tantrum, spill, or trip to the potty (because he always has to go at the most inconvenient times). It is 7:30 by the time we are done. After dinner, there is some time for playing with the neighbors or taking a walk; but, when we come in an hour later, Jeff and I are both on edge because Sam was too rough with his friends, and we’re all getting tired and grumpy now. Bed and bath time is rushed; and, when I flip out Sam’s lights at quarter-after-nine; I can barely muster the energy to plan my next day’s lesson for school and (more times than not) choose to spend that last precious hour of the day reading other people’s blogs and pinning things I’ll NEVER actually do on Pinterest.
This is when the perfectionist in me really shines… If I can’t have it all; well, then, I may as well not try at all. Why bother?
And, now, I’m the most depressing blogger in America…
Here’s the deal:
I need the middle. I need the grace to let go of that first person – to accept that I will probably never be well-ironed and sipping a spinach smoothie on my way to work, early. AND, I need the hope and motivation to want more for that second person – to finally realize that my life runs a lot better when I am intentional with my time, when I take care of my soul and my body, when everything isn’t done half way at one hundred miles per hour.
Yes, life is busy, and hard, and imperfect; but, it is also very, very good. It is FULL in every sense of the word – full of family and friends, laughter, and conversation, but also obligations and appointments, dog hair, and laundry.
This is my life – the only one I get – and, at least in the foreseeable future, I don’t see too much changing. (And, to be honest, I really wouldn’t change much of it even if I could.)
I’m tired of living on one extreme with an impossible “goal” at the other extreme. They are too far apart. Just thinking about the journey makes me want to take a nap.
It is time to live happily, contentedly, in the middle. Care to join me there?