Portrait of a Frazzled Mom
How can I be so busy each and every day yet still feel most days that I got absolutely nothing done?
While I’m not quite ready to be an ‘After’ picture, the ‘Before’ photographers are leaving me alone, too. Good enough is… well, good enough. These are the times when I really, really want to run into an old boyfriend, a parent council nemesis (oh, we all have these, come on), or the personal trainer who used to just look at me and sigh. But, as we all know in the give-and-take-but-mostly-take world of moms, these are the folks I’m least likely to run into. The people I’m most likely to run into are the ones who will look me up and down and say, “Must be nice to have time to work out. Didn’t see you at the last school fundraising event.” Or, “Haven’t seen you at Johnny’s hockey games for a while – I see him looking for you in the stands.”
AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM. No matter how much we try to do for our kids, our schools, our community, or (gasp) ourselves, we’re always going to have to give up something to gain something. And the trade offs are not always fair. For instance:
- The penalty for Mommy going out two nights in a row (besides the raging guilt) can be as much as having to sit through one inane children’s movie (at the theatre where they’ve already cited you for “inappropriate BlackBerry usage” more than once), two rounds of a video game the kids only challenge you to so they can tell you they “pwned”(pronounced “poned”) you, and at least three hours of painting, gluing or colouring right from a spot where you can actually SEE your Twitterfeed but are not allowed to touch it. “Mom look at my artwork!” Oh, it’s work all right.
- The relationship between exercise and food hasalways been an emotionally abusive one. Work out for an hour, strain every muscle so badly that you dread having to sneeze, cough or sit down, just for the express reward of burning 200 calories, which you can gain back in the time it takes you to say the word Roquefort.
- You watch her bratty kid for an hour – and your kids swear, make religious slurs, eat junk food and smack each other, which is all dutifully reported back to the ‘superior mother’ by said brat. She watches your kid and relays back to you that “your children are wonderfully behaved at MY house. I find you really just have to engage with them. You might try it.” Engage this, sister.
- You can clean your house from top to bottom in eight hours, yet it can be totally destroyed in just eight seconds. Why does the universe work this way? There is a fatal flaw in the space/time/mess continuum here. So, between trying to balance time with our kids, exercise, eating right, and making sure that the tallest junk pile in your house is shorter than the shortest kid (pretty sure there’s a Health Canada regulation about that), sometimes it can just be nice to plop down on the couch and watch some television.To relax. Oh wait. Is this Last 10 Pounds Boot Camp? I couldlose 10 pounds. Heck I could lose 20 pounds. Let’s change that channel. Click. Oh great. Divine Design. Their before pictures look better than my entire house does. Click. Nanny 911. What’s wrong with these kids? I’d say they’re better behaved than mine….oh crap. Click. Gardens. Click. Cars. Click. Buns of Steel. Click. Is there nothing I’m doing right anymore?
DON’T ANSWER THAT QUESTION. I’ve made the mistake of asking it in my house, and I happen to have teenagers who live with me, who are quite helpful at pointing out flaws in my frazzled lifestyle with comments like: “How can you not have time to drive me? It’s not like you’re doing anything else!” Or “Why can’t you bring me my lunch? What do you do all day anyway Mom?” This raises an excellent question. How can I be so busy each and every day yet still feel most days that I got absolutely nothing done? This is the real challenge of today’s frazzled Mom. So, working along the same strategy that has dieters record every piece of food they eat, I am going to start writing down everything I do all day. Of course, should I choose to
show this list to anyone, I’ll have to get fairly creative with the categories of where I’m spending my time. If I spend an hour on Twitter, that’s Social Networking, of course. If it takes me an hour to unload the dishwasher because I am sidetracked by an Elvis movie (or something shiny), it still gets recorded under Domestic Duties. If I spend two hours reading a book, it’s Researching Alternate Writing Styles. If I end up browsing in a shoe store for 30 minutes or so it’s Surveying.
Maybe I’m not so frazzled after all – I just need a little redefining. Sort of like that aforementioned muffin top.
Kathy Buckworth’s new book Shut Up & Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children & Chardonnay will be
available in bookstores this April. For more information visit www.kathybuckworth.com.
Published March 2010