I know I’m not the only woman who tries to keep to many plates spinning every single day. But lately there’s always at least one falling. The answer, I would think, is to simplify, to eliminate at least a few of the plates. But I can’t really find anything extraneous to cut. There are the kids, the baby who is about to crawl, just started eating solid food and peeing on his potty on occasion. I can’t cut him. I don’t want to either. He’s the best part of the day, most days.
There’s the nine year old Boy with so much intelligence and talent and I’m his teacher. It’s a good thing he likes to read because most days I just hand him a book and let him learn on his own. And he teaches himself his math lesson now and does his work. His voice and ear are excellent. I should be giving him voice lessons and vocal exercises. I should spend more time policing the piano practice. He’ll thank me later, I know he will.
The Girl is reading, right on the cusp of taking off and reading independently. She’s probably be there already if I had more time in the day to spend with her. She knows math that I didn’t teach her. She can figure out things all on her own and I know I didn’t teach it to her, and I should have. Imagine what she would be doing now if I had. I should spend more time helping her learn guitar. She still needs me there.
I want to read to Little more. To hug her more often. She is 4. She’s at turns delightful and fractious and she is getting big so fast.
I wish that I could just spend all day with my kids, actually engaging with them. (I’d also like a maid to do the laundry, but I can live with that if kids and house were all I had to do.) I want to go on nature walks again and just hang out and explore.
But instead I spend the afternoons tucked away in my office, shooing them away because I’m working. Why not just quit work? I mean, it’s not like I actually get paid for anything I do.
But those faces of those kids in Thailand stare at me. Those 10,000 refugees from Burma who are being sent back to their deaths haunt my heart and I can’t stop working. There are dozens of kids who don’t eat or have a place to sleep at night if I don’t do this. There are hundreds, thousands more who still need help and I can give it to them. If I just keep working, and reaching out to more people and telling their story and organizing EVERYTHING, I can help them.
When I fantasize these days it’s that we can afford to pay a bookkeeper, and a web designer, an accountant, a secretary and an administrator. I’m doing the jobs of 5 people, and I’m not doing any of them as well as I could be if I had only one to focus on.
Every day something important slides. If I sit and read to my kids a child sponsor doesn’t get an email they should get. If I type the minutes for a board meeting and remind everyone of their action items and answer the 500 questions about when where and how of our next fundraiser my 4 year old who wants to paint get shooed off to fend for herself and the baby goes too long between diaper changes and leaks through.
I choose to write a blog post and my husband is neglected. I sit with him the dishes from dinner are still on the table at breakfast time. I take a phone call and talk to a friend who needs me and my kids only end up doing half of their school work, build a giant doll castle, leave their breakfast in their bowls and complain they are hungry before lunch time. Let’s not even mention the thank-you notes and letters owed or I may cry.
Through it all I’m haunted by the idea that if only I was better organized, if only I could force children to finish school work and chores in the allotted half an hour and run on even less sleep with a baby who nurses all night that I could keep all of the plates in the air and spinning effortlessly.
And maybe that’s true. I probably could be a better steward of my time than I am. Or maybe this really is more than is humanly possible for one person to accomplish.
I tried to find someone who could do the Charis work for just a month or two, not all of it, just basic things, like data entry, and organizing things, so I could rest after the baby was born. I couldn’t find anyone who was willing, who was also local.
I’m bad a delegating. I need another me, who already knows what needs to be done. In the time it takes to explain what needs to be done to someone else I could do it. And I’ve had people offer to help, sweet, sweet people, and I just don’t have the list broken down into bite sized pieces like that. And I would need you to come to my house because by the time I photocopy and scan that thing to send to you so you can do it I could have done it myself.
I lose track of the list in my head after about 30 items. I have notices and calendars and lists. But I am failing. At everything.
I am exhausted, mentally and physically. I consider it a successful day if I kept my head down and didn’t quit again. But I never come to the end of my list. There’s always more I could be doing and I start to forget some things, that are sometimes pretty urgent, because the other things crowd it out.
How do I do this? Seriously. I don’t know how to do all this and do it well.
I wonder how many other people feel this way?