Thursday, February 07, 2013

I can't do this.

I can't do it.  I can't do it all.  Not only can I not do it all, I can't even manage "most."

Some, yes.  On good days, I can do "some."  On good days, I get a shower and we all eat fruit or vegetables at every meal and the kids wear cute, clean clothes and the bed is made and the hail of crumbs and pools of milk around the high chair have been banished.  I answer emails, jot down notes about what brilliant things Griffin says and what new things Gwyneth can reach, play board games with him, play peek-a-boo with her, read to them both.

On good days, my husband and I make each other laugh, compliment each other, and talk about stuff besides "where-do-we-have-to-be-when-and-what-errands-can-we-do-on-the-way-home-if-neither-kid-has-a-meltdown" and Gwyneth's bowel movements and Griffin's birthday party.

On good days, I don't have to wake her up from her nap to go pick up him at preschool--oh, I hate having to do that!--and I don't have to leave the library early to take him to music class, where I fret about how I'm going to get all my work done when I can't even squeeze in 15 hours a week at my job.

On good days Gwyneth sleeps till 5:00 am instead of waking up at 2:00am or 4:00am or both, and Griffin doesn't wet the bed.

On good days, we're not in such a rush that I have to drive Griffin to school, meaning that I can accomplish 30-60 minutes of exercise by walking him back and forth.  (It goes without saying that on good days, it's not snowing or broiling in the upper 90s.)

Notice that even on "good days," I don't usually make time for writing.  I don't visit other people's blogs any more, and forget about Facebook and Pinterest and Words with Friends and practicing my French by reading online--not gonna happen most days.  I don't record those scrawled notes from so many post-its and envelope backs into Griffin's scrapbook or Gwyneth's baby book.  (Full disclosure: she is 18 months old.  Her baby book has nothing written in it.  And Griffin's scrapbook was last updated in--wait for it--January 2009.)

I hardly ever read novels any more.  Or cook from scratch.  Or grow more than tomatoes in what used to be a verdant vegetable garden.  Or exercise vigorously enough to work up a sweat.  Or leave work thinking, "Great!  Now I'm all caught up!"

Thinking about all the projects I never finish (or start) and the obligations that I neglect depresses me.  I disappoint myself on a regular basis.

Even on a good day, I have one or two children with me nearly every moment that I'm not at work.  Right now, I'm typing this blog post while my sister-in-law watches my little rascals for two hours; next week, I'll take my turn with her two kids.  That makes two hours of alert alone time twice a month that I can count on. (Unless blearily clipping coupons or folding laundry after the kids have fallen asleep counts as alone time?)  No wonder I'm not blogging much any more.  And I'm really sorry that I haven't kept up with all of your inspiring, funny, thought-provoking, fascinating blogs!

But I remind myself that overall, even the exhausting and unproductive days are still good days, because Ed and I have each other and two healthy children and supportive family and friends.  I don't have to work 40+ hours a week while paid caregivers get to watch my kids grow up.   I remind myself that at this point, 18-month-old Gwyneth is at the apex of neediness: like an infant, she can't feed herself, use the toilet, or articulate clearly what she wants, but unlike an infant, she is always in motion and needs constant supervision.  She will slowly get more autonomous; she will eventually sleep through the night.  And starting in August, Griffin will be in school from 8:00 am till 2:30 pm instead of just 11:45 till 2:30.  Dare I hope that these schedule changes will allow for more alone time and more Ed-and-Sarah time and more work time?

And I also remind myself that on all days, good and bad, I still speak French, and only French, with my beautiful children.  I can't do it all--but at least I can do this.

multitasking maman


  1. Wasn't sure if I should post this or not. Thanks for letting me whine and vent.

  2. bless you. Moms have it hard!

  3. Oh Sarah... You and me both. It's great that you opened up and shared this because I think practically everyone of your readers will identify. I knwo that I spend my life spinning on my head... I try...I really do... to organise myself within an inch of my life...but there are so many things I just can't fit in and so many people I feel don't get the face time, phone time or email time they hope for from me...the only way I can fit more in is by fitting in less sleep...and I love my sleep grrr but don't get much of it anymore. Some days I think people will understand...other days I think unless you have two very young children it might not be possible to realise that you never get chance to finish a cup of coffee never mind sit down and read a book or write a letter and that if you do pick up the phone it's because you're not doing something else on your to do list ... and that chore will still need to be squeezed in somewhere...phew...nice to join you and get that off my chest :D

    Good luck with it all and keep up the good work. like you say, we can't do it all, but we can be proud of what we do do.

  4. Just wanted to say that we all have such feelings from time to time. You don't need to be perfect! When I was pregnant of my son, I used to feel guilty with my daughter (she was 9) because after work I didn't have enough energy to spend quality time with her. Everything I wanted was to sleep. I was very surprised when my daughter said it was a great period for her! She could play computer games, watch TV, etc. as much as she wanted! :) Hopefully very soon your two kids will be able to play together with no supervision and so you will have enough time for your projects!
    And don't forget that you really do a lot!!

  5. whining and venting is one of the virtues of blogging:) and your words ring true for most (all?) of us...this is really hard work! and you are doing some amazing and inspiring things! Just last night I was thinking about you and your experiences of raising your kids in French in the US as I had dinner with French people doing just the opposite in France.
    I promise, it does get just need to wait another yeamr or so :)

  6. Like in Monty Python´s song… Always look at the right side of life! If it´s any consolation, you are an inspiration for lots of bilingual families and especially for those non-native adventurers, in which my family is included.
    My wife and I share with you the same “it´s too much” feeling, and are about to have the second child within the next weeks. I think it´s completely insane that we haven´t even talked to each other for an entire week other than logistics issues (errands, dropping off/picking up stuff, what´s missing in the fridge…), literally. And there´s an added issue here in Spain. The ratio “cost of life/salary” is so unbalanced that we can´t afford one of us not working full time (i.e. 50-60 hour/s week, getting paid only for 40, yeah!). I made my numbers recently because my wife is about to lose her job, and with my salary (32 years old, college degree, masters program, speaking Spanish, English and German), only with humble/normal expenses, i.e. food, supplies, rent, not even one luxury, our monthly bottom line is -200€!!! And I have to be thankful cause out there we have 26% of unemployment… Great! How do we deal with it? We squeeze every second available and spend it with our beautiful boy (in English) as much as we can. When he gets asleep I search for opportunities abroad to leave this shrinking boat that is Spain right now. But as you said, you have to hold onto the good things! You have someone to fight by your side, family and friends to support you when things get taught and 2 precious creatures to fight for, I wouldn’t trade this, not even for all the money+free time in the world. Blog-whining is totally allowed so you have a shoulder here whenever you need it!!

  7. Thank you, my friends, fellow bloggers, and readers, for your support! I am humbled by your praise and your accomplishments, buoyed by the knowledge that we're in the same (or a similar) boat, and reassured by your promises that it will get easier (or at least different) as my children grow.

    Thanks also for the reminders that we have chosen to be parents, chosen to raise children with more than one language, and that this is a challenge our children will be glad that we accepted. (But how come no one tells parents-to-be how incompetent, lost, and exhausted they will probably feel? And why doesn't the US government subsidize childcare for ages 0-5 like so many other countries, or figure out how to give all parents paid leave time when their children arrive? Having that help early on could reduce so much anxiety for so many families)