Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spinning Plates and Leaky Pipes. It's All About the Metaphor.

Raise your hand if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Raise your other hand if you are finding yourself haphazardly throwing food at your children more often than you are finding yourself planning and preparing full meals.  Raise your foot if you had four extra errands thrown at you in the last two days that must be done NOW.  Raise your other foot if, after working your tail off today, you still have a house full of stuff not put in its place. 

Now hold that position while you focus on your breathing and count to ten.

You have successfully done the navasana yoga pose, which you can totally count as your exercise for the day.  You're welcome.

I know for sure and for certain that I am not the only mom who is feeling frazzled and frustrated these days.   Almost every single blog I've read or woman I've talked to in the last few days is feeling the same way.  It's like the start of the school year has hit us all upside the head and said, "Hey, you!  Summer's over!  Get your rear in gear and take care of all of those things you couldn't bother doing while you were lounging by the pool!"

Last year a very good friend of mine was raising three children, working full time, and getting her masters.  She had one really, really bad week, and she let loose on her husband.  At one point she hollered, "You have no idea how much stress and frustration I have been holding inside!"

He looked her in the eyes and calmly replied, "It's been leaking out."

I realized yesterday that my stress had popped a leak.

It happened after three children went outside to get their uniforms off the line.  Each of those three children came inside with just the article of clothing he went to get, leaving all of the other clean clothes out there for someone else to retrieve. 

The leak started as a drip.  In the part of my brain that remained rational, I told myself that this is normal middle school behavior.  Middle schoolers don't generally look for extra work to do.  Plus, of the three kids, not one of them could have reached all of the clothes that were out there. 

But as with any plumbing, if you don't fix the original problem, that little drip turns into a big leak.

My leak took the form of a ten minute dissertation on children helping around the house.  It included a guilt trip, in which I said I must be doing something wrong in my parenting if my kids don't see how much I'm doing around here and they don't lift a finger without being asked.  The guilt was layed on thicker when I pointed out that I had selflessly tracked down those uniforms, washed them, and hung them on the line so they would have them for their meet.  I then went into the territory of, "You've never seen Dad or me sitting around at our parents' houses when our parents are working."  On and on, blah, blah, blah, ending with, "If I'm not sitting down, you most certainly should not be sitting down."  They were told to be a whole lot more observant and helpful from that point forward.

We moms try so very hard to balance everything.  To keep untold numbers of plates spinning on their little posts. We run back and forth and back and forth, spinning those plates, always looking for the one plate that is about to fall, desperate to catch it before it does.

And then something unexpected happens to distract us.  One plate falls.  In our efforts to try to save the one, we miss the other two that are wobbling.  They all start going.  And with each crash, we feel more and more stressed and upset that we can't actually do it all.  There is no possible way to keep all of those plates a-spinnin', despite our best efforts.  And too often, we start to feel like we've failed.

My unexpected thing was a call from school telling me that Star broke the cap off of his front tooth.  That was the tipping point that set the whole rest of the next few days off.  Little things that normally wouldn't phase me in the least added up to make me frazzled and ouchy.

My poor kids got drenched.

Last night I sent up the white flag.  We pulled into the driveway at 9:11 last night.  I walked the kids in, then greeted my husband with, "They are your kids now.  I'm done." 

I sat on my rear and didn't do one more productive thing. 

I don't know of a single mother who hasn't been overwhelmed at some point.  These phases don't have to be all bad.  We can use these crazy times to learn.  To evaluate what is really important to us.  To figure out what God wants us to do with our gifts with the limited time and energy that we have.  

Instead of feeling like a failure and getting upset about the plates we couldn't keep going, get rid of some plates.   There is a big difference between a plate falling because we didn't catch it and allowing a plate to fall because we realize we don't need it. 

Ladies, start waving your white flags.  Breathe.  Get perspective.  Do something completely unproductive.  Go to bed extra early.  And figure out which plates you are going to let fall.

And do it before your stress starts leaking.

Speaking of rain, Isaac is headed our way, bringing all sorts of it. We're supposed to get up to four inches in two days, which, when combined with the extremely dry ground, will cause major flooding. So we're told.

Let's just send up a little "Thank you!" prayer that it was on my heart to cancel that Labor Day party.

It was one seriously large plate that I didn't need to be spinning.

Have a lovely day!

1 comment:

  1. Thank You! It reinforced my decision last night, to NOT go to the presidential rally in town this morning. I only learned about it last night, I knew there was no possible way I could go and still finish that laundry... So I told hubs I was disapointed but needed to skip it. Today I've gotten to snuggle with the baby and get in 2 loads of laundry! knowing the last 2 days that might be a record! That plate was dropped and more important plates are spinning successfully!


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