Shall I succumb to the piles of papers mounting up on the counter? Or perhaps the the trail of laundry meandering round the house? Shall I throw in the towel, as I contemplate the mounds of dishes accumulating faster than can be loaded into the dishwasher? Or perhaps my down fall will be in the scheduling of three soccer teams, mixed with eleven dance classes and countless after school events. The groceries, car repairs and endless bills have eaten away at my bank account. And are looming, still hungry, at the back door, waiting to devour me whole. Another set back, another struggle to tempt me into the depths of despair.

But I will not be tempted. I will stand strong. I will not succumb.

I am strong. I am fierce. I will carry on with poise and coffee. I will try again, with renewed vigor, and better plans, and more organizing baskets.

I may stumble and trip. I may be late for some practices. I may leave the laundry in the washer for the day and a half. I may wait until morning to empty, then refill the dishwasher, having to wash a cup or two by hand. I may retreat into my phone for an hour or so, avoiding the mess, the chores, and the busy. I may fail. But I will fail well. I will fail, and try again, and again, and again.

Succumb? No. No I will not succumb today.


The journey

The first steps into the night,

Guided by years of traipsing

These hand formed stairs.

Grass and cedar hold back the hill

As flowers tumbleAnd weeds intermix.

Starless warm skies,

A sense of endless time,

A traveler lost in moments,

(Or could it be hours or years?)

My boots are drenched with dew,

The damp darkness has settled

Into every nook and blade of grass.

Loosening the hinges of reality.

Ah! But the night reveals a door!

Guarded by stretching rose bushes

And overgrown shrubs.

An old summer cottage,

Overgrown by fall.

The light and sound within:

An aproned grandmother,

Cleaning up the last of her dishes.

Or an ought to be abandoned shed,

Filled with bickering children

And lit by flickering candles’ glow.

Inner reality is blurry, obscured by dust

And a half fallen curtain.

No candles glow.

No grandmotherly figures wiping up crumbs.

A strange disorderly order

Of objects pressing together,

Jostling for space or attention,

Demanding a closer look…

What oddness abounds!

Greeted by fluff and feathers

And attitudes all around…

“How dare you disturb my night!

Have you never heard of privacy!

A moment to gather my senses

And find my evening bonnet!”

I pause, to allow the dust to settle,

And then begin my evening chores.

All chickens accounted for

All foxes shut out for the night.

Food and water filled for morning.

All have settled down

And are ready to turn out the light.

I re-traipse my wet footprints,

Back up the overgrown stairs.

Awaiting me at the top,

My own cozy cottage

With children happily giggling

And a husband washing the dishes.

All is well and quiet and good.

Good night.

No, I am not…

No, I am not at the amazing and super fun annual pumpkin drop today. No, I am not driving to Waterville and back for basketball today. No, I am not cleaning the chimney, or cleaning up around the wood stove today. No, I am not harvesting apples or making cider for the winter. No, I am not.

Today I am resting.

The world will not end if my children miss a chance to see 1000 pound pumpkins dropped on stripped down old cars, this one year. It will not end if I rely on friends and coaches to ferry my middle child to and from the Sunday basketball games, an hour away. Nor will it be horrible to wait a few more days before lighting the wood stove this fall. And the world will certainly not end if I don’t drive the 15 minutes over to the job site, to harvest apples on this windy day.

This week has been a doozie of a busy week. There have been six soccer practices, one basketball practice, five soccer games, eight dance classes, a PTO meeting, two deep car cleanings, one camper cleaning and set up for fall, two cavity fillings, way too many bills paid, one morning of volunteer work, one day off from school, a four day headache, two sleep overs, three grocery shopping adventures, one big hassle with internet service, two evening-out dinners, a birthday celebration, an early morning play date, a friend’s baby born, a failed car repair, as well as week of working two paying, part-time jobs. I am tired.

So, today I have been helping children find Lego pieces, reading my book, mindlessly playing on my iPhone and doing only one load of laundry. I suppose I also had to tend the chickens, cat and bunnies; as well as make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the family. And I did have to deliver one child to the coach and another to the dance class. But that is all.

Harvesting the potatoes can wait, too wet anyway. Sorting the art supplies and making a new art cabinet can wait, need to get more boxes and shelves still. The sorting out summer clothes from the multitudes of drawers and closets can wait, Young’Uns is probably closed tomorrow anyway. Even the planning of the week’s meals can wait, we can just have pasta and peanut butter sandwiches for a couple meals.

Would it be fun to see the pumpkin smash into millions of pieces and feel the impact shake the ground? Yes. But then the blanket would be all wet from the rain, and the children covered in tiny pieces of leaves and their pockets filled with acorns I will find in the washing machine. There is always next year, as well as the previous five (at least) years to remember fondly. Do I wonder and worry how the first basketball game of this new team and new season went? Yes! But there will be another next weekend and it gives her a chance to giggle with her friend for the hour ride there and back. Has the weather turned a bit chilly and damp and a fire would be nice? Yes, for sure! But we have so many sweaters, we love baking bread in the oven (which warms the house quite a bit), and it is far too windy today to be up in the roof anyway! There is always next Saturday to clean the chimney.

Today we rest. We let others help. We reset ourselves and brace for the next coming week: 6 soccer games, 7 soccer practices, 8 dance classes, one day off from school, one pumpkin boat regatta, one picnic play date, one fundraiser for a friend, one or two basketball practices, one hopeful car repair trip to Portland and back, one morning of volunteering, one sleepover, one spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and three days of solo parenting. But that is all just par for the course.

All in under an hour…lol

Folding laundry…folding laundry.

Towels in fourths, then thirds, then put away. Shirts hung up, short sleeves to the lefts, long sleeves to the right, face them all the right direction. Oh look at this extra lamp shade on the table, that would be perfect for Z’s lamp with the broken shade.

Up the stairs, try the shade. A little too big. Hmmm. And the cord is on the wrong side of the shelf. Hmmm… I know! I can fix the old shade with clear gorilla glue tape. Down the stairs with the extra shade and to retrieve the tape.

Put the extra shade in the garage. Oh look this gardening tool I was looking for. And I probably should take the empty bottles outside to the recycling.

Take the bottles outside, and put the garden tool with the other garden tools in the woodshed. Hmmm. I still have these clothes to go to Young ‘Uns. I should put them in the car. And I really need to get more wood stacked while it is dry.

But wait! I was doing laundry. Right! Back to laundry! Fold a shirt, fold a pair of pants, match a pair of Z’s soccer socks…

But wait! I was fixing Z’s lamp. Find the tape. Head back up the stairs. Looking for scissors in her room to cut the tape. Oh look: a couple glasses and a dirty towel to take down stairs. Take glasses and towel down to the kitchen…now what was I doing?

The light!

Back up the stairs. Fix the lamp shade. Adjust the cord to the correct side of the shelf and back to…oh yes, laundry.

Fold a shirt, fold a pair of pants, this must be little L’s new dress. But where is L’s basket? Hmmm…probably still in her room full of yesterday’s clean clothes. Oh well, just start a pile.

In comes the cat. Cat sits beside the pile. The pile falls over. Ugh! Fold the clothes again and remove the cat from the clothes folding table.

Washing machine beeps, all finished. But there are still clothes in the dryer and clothes filling the table…fold faster! If I fold these sheets that will make some room, but ugh, fitted sheets!

Kinda have a headache, I should drink more water. Out to kitchen to find my glass, and see my morning coffee cup still on the counter.

I will just put this in the dishwasher, then I will get back to the laundry. And here is another glass in the sink, I will just find a spot for that in the dish washer too. Hmm. It is kinda full and I really should run it, but there could be more room if I just rearrange the bottom shelf I could probably get these cereal bowls in too. And this plate, it needs to be hand washed. While I am washing the plate, I could also wash the knife and how about this cutting board. Perhaps just wipe the counters again too.

What is this! Chocolate spilled! Sticky yuck! Rinse the sponge and try again. Those dishes in the drainer could be put away, it will only take me a minute.

Man, this head ache isn’t getting better! Oh yeah, I didn’t drink the water. And it is probably time for lunch. I should find something to eat. Maybe a sandwich.

Eww! This fridge needs cleaning out. Where did this stuff even come from? I don’t even remember making rice, definitely need to take that out. But hmm the sink is getting full, I need to take this to the chickens. What else can I find in her for the chickens? Oh look a full, unopened yogurt! Oh yeah, I am kinda hungry. But I should take these carrots up to the bunnies and the old food out to the compost and chickens first. And then wipe down the refrigerator shelves, then I will get back to that laundry.

Well, actually I want to get that load into the dryer before I forget. I will do that then deal with these food containers.

Oh dear, I forgot the dryer is full and so is the table still. Well, I will just have to pile it on the top and get back to fold it after I finish cleaning the fridge. Where did I put the sponge?

Man, this head ache…oh yeah! My water and some lunch…

À Présent

When the simplest of tasks brings you to tears…

Overwhelmed by my opportunity of a day alone, I try to start by writing out the lists swirling in my head. It all starts fine with lots of spaces between the chores, lots of room for wiggling. But as I continue, my mind keeps whirring and adding till it seems every inch of paper has a job, a need, a demand. And no longer are the chores marching in line, staying in order, moving fully from one room to the next. Now they are jumbled together, standing on each other’s shoulders, pushing against the edges. Like three-year-olds jockeying for a spot in the ice cream line, manic and boisterous and whining for attention. Perhaps I need another cup of coffee, or breakfast, or to go back to bed…

In a whisper, in my head, I hear my own voice trying to help one of my overwhelmed children (let’s just pick one thing and accomplish the moment in smaller bites). And then I also hear my own small voice growing in strength – crying, sobbing, unable to choose JUST ONE. There is no prioritizing the list; everything MUST be done NOW, RIGHT NOW!!!!!

And there, there is where I hear their laughter, and remember the feeling of happiness. There is the memory of teaching her French this past week and loving and laughing as I pretend to hurry her “maintenant, maintenant, maintenant!” The rolling on the floor, belly cramping laughter. The good feeling flowing over my aching heart like chocolate over strawberries; filling the seeds of doubt and sadness, with smooth sweetness and love. There I feel forgiveness.

The wave has passed. I can see this moment gently flowing to the next and can let go of the expectations and demands and make a choice. I can be happy, for these few moments at least, with the choices I make and the outcomes that result. I can be present for myself.

Friday of February Vacation

Laundry story: I am going ‘cowboy’ in yoga pants and yesterday’s work-dirty sweatshirt, while my youngest daughter just threw the shirt she wore for an hour this morning, into the washing machine. The oldest has dressed the middle child in her ‘make over’ clothes for the second time today. And I am washing three basketball jerseys, three shorts and six pairs of socks, along with three pairs of ballet tights, four leotards and two pairs of jazz/yoga pants in preparation for the coming week.

Food episode: they are officially tired of mac and cheese, but refuse to try a tuna melt. We have gone through three jars of pickles and two gallons of milk in seven days. A Valentine’s cake covered in more sprinkles than frosting, and made the day after Valentine’s Day, is half eaten on the kitchen counter. And I am eating a homemade  pulled pork sandwich for the third day in a row, but at least on homemade bread. 

Outside clothes tales: two pairs of mud covered snow pants hang on the clothes line over the stove. Three pairs of boots stuffed with newspaper adorn the woodstove hearth along with a few stray mittens and a scarf. The entryway is a landmine of high heels, pink crocs, sneakers, and water stained Bear Paws. And a pair of LL Bean mittens is frozen to the front steps next to a ‘balloon luminary’ remnant. 

Living room report: Lego castles have started to crumble into the ‘nail salon’ laid out this morning. The whiteboard has math problems intermingled with princess dresses and tic-tac-toe. The bunnies are resting in the corner of their cage after days of cuddling, carrying, and being dressing up like babies. And the sofa has become a library of Fairy Magic, Magic Tree House, and Warrior books along with Bad Kitty picture books and fancy coloring books.

So let’s go visit Papa at work.
Some slight exaggeration for effect, as these did not all happen just today…

Vacation planning 

I am a planner. I don’t write my plans out in a three ring binder, or keep meticulous notes on what chores are assigned to each day of the week. But, I like to have a plan (when I can), I like to follow the plan (when I am uninterrupted), I like to see the plan come to fruition (when everything goes ‘right’).

This week is vacation from school. This week I tried to not have plans. This week’s plans were to sleep, fold laundry and recharge. In the back of my mind I still thought of skeletal plans. I still saw all the vacation activities around town that I should take my girls to see. I still remembered the great vacations we have had other February vacations. I tried hard not to plan. I tried to go with the flow. 


So, I cleaned and organized this fallen disaster that I did not plan. This is a ‘shoe holder’ that is used for art supplies, small toys, little games, play phones, and…junk. I did not plan to organize this catastrophe. 

I planned on organizing my eldest’s sweaters. I planned on sorting through bathing suits and mittens. I planned on getting all the sheet sets organized and folded into their matching pillow cases like the picture on Pinterest. I planned on sledding in the backyard or basketball in the driveway.

The universe had other plans. 

(So far, the universe’s ‘other plans’ have worked out pretty good. And THIS is an important life lesson I am trying to learn: a plan is a guideline, not a formula. There are still many days of vacation left, much laundry still to fold, and new things to not plan for that have yet to unfold.)