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.

(Deep breaths)

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?

Do you?

all content © Carrien Blue

8 thoughts on “Failing

  1. Yes I've felt that way. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about "getting it all done", and I was reminded of something I'd read before by Elisabeth Elliot: "One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy." I need to hang this somewhere that I can see it every moment of the day as I am constantly tempted to be drawn into busyness. 🙂

  2. I feel that way today. I'm 21 weeks pregnant with our 3rd, and it's the 4th day that I've had diarrhea with a virus that's going around. It started The Day that my husband began working weekends and nights to go to trial (he's a prosecutor). He can't come home because he's supposed to be putting people in jail who need to be there, and I can't ask others for help because they'll get infected, too, so I muddle on and pray the almost 2-year-old stops banging on the bathroom door. And then I remember why a 3rd baby seems like a total extravagance in this life we have currently, and I so wish that we didn't have so much on our plates.- Ellen

  3. Often… but I find that it comes in waves and if we can ride through the wave (usually a week or so), then things are all right again on the other side. Unfortunately I find there is a huge pile of work waiting for me that I neglected all that week, so there are a few days of recovery to allow for, too. Then some calm, and a repeat.

    I'm working on it, though. I have a design client who is notorious for pushing deadlines – I am clamping down on that. I have others who tend to be thoughtless about when they call – I've stopped answering the phone when I am doing something more important. I've started embracing the "it's not my problem" mentality when it comes to someone else's disorganization or poor decision, and I'm getting to the place where I stop letting someone else's sloppiness force me into chaos along with them.

    I guess it's about escaping the 'tyranny of the urgent' … making sure the big rocks get into the jar first … whichever story or analogy resonates with you the best. 🙂

    About your comment on not getting paid… funny thing… I do get paid for my work, but sometimes I think I'd be happier if I didn't. If I were giving my talents to something that needed/merited them, rather than to clients who pay but frustrate the dickens out of me. LOL

  4. I just started following your blog and I am happy that I am able to help support Charis every month since December but I do not know you personally and I am loathe to offer advice because I have not walked in your shoes. Please take this with a grain of salt: Remember that God is in control. He holds us in the palm of His hands. He loves you. Not for what you do but who you are – His. Created in his image. I am a mom of five and work full time and I know it would be overwhelming to me if I were to add homeschooling so I cannot begin to understand the level at which you function everyday but I do know how it feels to try and get it all done and never get to the end of my list. Do you have family nearby or a college student who might be willing to help out?

  5. Life is all about choices. You are choosing to focus your time on certain things. Now, a blog takes time and effort out of your day. Have you thought about cutting back on it? Children in other parts of the world do need help, but what about your own children and their own needs? Take some time out one day to go take a walk with your kids and enjoy the outdoors or explore.
    I know that as a mom, we all need time for ourselves away from our children once and an while, and that is why your work is so important too, but we have to maintain quality of life too–a healthy balance. It's great (actually wonderful) that you have committed yourself to doing a noble mission. Look at the other things that could be left out from your to do list and seriously make a commitment to say, "No, that is not necessary, or I could do without it."

  6. Soon we will practically be neighbors . . . maybe I'll be able to help. In the meantime, know that I understand.

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