It’s 5:45 a.m., and I can hear my 3-year-old screaming “Mommy!” from his crib. It’s the most jarring wake-up, my husband is out of town and I went to bed way too late the night before because I was binge watching my show on Netflix.
I sleepily arise, pluck my son from his crib and tell him he can come into bed with me if he can chill and be quiet so mama can go back to sleep.
Instead of closing my eyes for that much-needed extra hour of rest, I instead see my computer beckoning from the desk across my room, sigh and open it up to get ahead of the many hours of work, emails and creating I should be doing today. I think maybe it’ll allow me to have a few hours with my kids at the park because end-of-day park hangs in the summer are my favorite.
There it is. The constant balancing act that every mom grapples with.
Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, our days are a merry-go-round, roller coaster mashup of to-do lists, chores, responsibilities, pickup times, schedules, social calendars and if you happen to be a working mother, oh ya…that…work.
This particular morning, I take two hours before my 5-year-old wakes up and before my nanny arrives to get a few solid hours of work done and feel slightly accomplished by the time I brush my teeth and have my first coffee of the day.
Before becoming a mom, I can clearly remember that feeling at the end of the day, like I completed almost everything I had set out to do that day. Back then I was able to riffle through my checklist of errands and work responsibilities like a ninja and turn on a show by 8 p.m.,feeling accomplished and satisfied.
These days, I’m lucky to half finish a few tasks and maybe get back to them a week later when I remember.
I set calendar alerts, alarms, I make lists on my iPhone, but somehow every few weeks, I miss that conference call, I forget that appointment or I blank on plans with that friend. How many days have I been late for preschool pickup or drop-off, promised my kids an outing and had to rain check, or missed coming to my favorite activities like tennis or swim for my boys?
I sort of feel some days like I stink at everything, like I can’t get any of it right.
I’m beginning to understand and be OK with the fact that THIS is motherhood. Not the “stinking at everything” part but the “being OK with not doing everything perfectly” part. Not having it “all” all at once.
And what is “having it all” anyway?
Is it some myth we believe from childhood or movies we watch about the woman who has her dream career, her dream guy and perfect children in her art-directed perfect dream house? I picture Melanie Griffith in Working Girl or any Julia Roberts movie where everyone achieves all their dreams with ease and great hair.
I’m learning that it’s OK to be pretty good at a lot of things and that if I don’t book the job I’ve been dreaming of, if one of my pieces doesn’t get published, if I don’t sign that deal or if I miss a week’s worth of preschool pickups—it’s OK.
I feel like I’ve just realized the tooth fairy doesn’t exist and it’s pretty liberating.
These days I feel pretty good about the 50/50ish rule.
I try to split my time as best I can within the two worlds I exist. Some days I’m my pre-mama self, hair freshly styled, outfit on point, meeting a publicist at a trendy West Hollywood restaurant to “lunch.” Other days, I’m a messy-topknot adorned, on-the-go mama, driving from point A to point B, listening to the same kiddie song on repeat in my oversize SUV.
As the sun starts to set and that magic light peeks through the blinds in my living room, my two boys cuddle next to me on our oversize sofa. There are cheddar duckies squished into a part of a pillow and I can see a scattering of Lego pieces on the floor. My computer is open in front of me on our distressed wood coffee table, an unfinished email to my producer in New York lights up the screen. A pile of unopened mail sits next to it, and there are dishes in the sink from dinner, waiting to be stacked in the dishwasher.
I hug my boys tighter and bring my nose down to smell their freshly washed damp hair. This is EVERYTHING. And I have it.