Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Need the Middle

I wake up long before the day begins and spend a good thirty minutes having my coffee, reading my Bible, and meditating in the quiet of the house.  Then, I throw on yoga pants and hit the pavement for a sunrise run. I return home sweaty and energized and toss in a load of laundry before jumping in the shower.  

I wear a perfectly pressed pencil skirt and starched blouse, and I take time to carefully straighten my hair and complete a full make-up regimen.  Before leaving, I switch over the laundry to the dryer, unload the dishwasher (crossing those items off of my "daily chore chart"), and blend a "clean" smoothie with spinach, quinoa, and acai berries galore.  I kiss Jeff and Sam goodbye and quietly tip toe out the door.  I am at work by 7AM.

After a fulfilling day of enriching young minds, I come home and continue by orchestrating an elaborate sensory activity for Sam followed by a trip to the playground. There, he plays nicely, and I sip iced coffee chai tea and chat with the other moms.  By five o'clock, Sam is having independent play time in his bedroom while I chop fresh vegetables for our wheat/gluten free dinner and wait to greet Jeff at the door with a smile and a drink.

The three of us sit down to eat together promptly at six and discuss our days.  Afterwards, we go for a family walk or visit with friends on the front porch.  At seven, Jeff bathes Sam while I do a "quick clean" of the house and put away the morning's laundry.  By eight, the house is sparkling and still, and I sit down to write a powerful blog post that is sure to go viral and watch a PBS documentary with Jeff.

Um, be honest.... Did you just puke in your mouth a little bit at "my" day?  

Good, me too.  (Let's be honest, if you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you knew it was all imaginary when I said I went for a run with the sun. Ha!)

Even just typing those paragraphs felt ridiculous to me... So full of "catch words" like chore charts and chai and independent play time.  Do people really live like that?  And, would I really WANT to if I could.

On the tapes that play over and over and over again in my mind, the answer to both of those questions is YES.

YES, there are women who "do it all" and are still skinny, ironed, and smiling.  And, YES, Elizabeth, that is who you want to be.  That woman is the gold standard...

This is the reality: 

My alarm goes off at 5AM because there are still dishes that need to be cleaned up from last night's dinner and lunches to be packed before the day begins.  I press snooze until 6 and spend the next thirty minutes running around the house trying to at least make the kitchen look "decent" before the sitter arrives, throwing a frozen meal in my lunch bag, and digging through the dryer to find a clean outfit to wear to work.

I leave the house in a tizzy at 7:15 and send a text to my teaching partner assuring him that I WILL be there by the time class starts at 7:30.  My hair is wet, but my coffee is hot...

... In the afternoon, I get home from work while Sam is still napping and choose to use that time to nap (or mindlessly surf the internet) myself.  "I deserve it" after a day at work; but, by the time Sam wakes up at four, I'm silently cursing myself for NOT doing a load of laundry, starting dinner, or (at the very least) putting away the bag of toys that has been sitting on our dining room table since the weekend.  I will make-up for my laziness now by squeezing in 30 minutes of "play time" and another 30 minutes of mad-dashing around the house in an attempt to cross something off my to-do list before Jeff gets home.  On a good day, I make it to a class at the gym, OR I make dinner; but, either one comes at the sacrifice of more time with Sam.  If I do those things, that means he will spend at least a portion of the afternoon in the gym childcare center or watching a movie while I cook.  Finding excuses and justifying is easy, it becomes my game.

I'm pawning Sam on Jeff at the door and our "family dinner" is usually interrupted by a temper tantrum, spill, or trip to the potty (because he always has to go at the most inconvenient times).  It is 7:30 by the time we are done.  After dinner, there is some time for playing with the neighbors or taking a walk; but, when we come in an hour later, Jeff and I are both on edge because Sam was too rough with his friends, and we're all getting tired and grumpy now.  Bed and bath time is rushed; and, when I flip out Sam's lights at quarter-after-nine; I can barely muster the energy to plan my next day's lesson for school and (more times than not) choose to spend that last precious hour of the day reading other people's blogs and pinning things I'll NEVER actually do on Pinterest.

This is when the perfectionist in me really shines... If I can't have it all; well, then, I may as well not try at all. Why bother?  

And, now, I'm the most depressing blogger in America... 

Here's the deal:

I need the middle. I need the grace to let go of that first person - to accept that I will probably never be well-ironed and sipping a spinach smoothie on my way to work, early.  AND, I need the hope and motivation to want more for that second person - to finally realize that my life runs a lot better when I am intentional with my time, when I take care of my soul and my body, when everything isn't done half way at one hundred miles per hour.

Yes, life is busy, and hard, and imperfect; but, it is also very, very good.  It is FULL in every sense of the word - full of family and friends, laughter, and conversation, but also obligations and appointments, dog hair, and laundry.  

This is my life - the only one I get - and, at least in the forseeable future, I don't see too much changing. (And, to be honest, I really wouldn't change much of it even if I could.)

I'm tired of living on one extreme with an impossible "goal" at the other extreme.  They are too far apart.  Just thinking about the journey makes me want to take a nap.

It is time to live happily, contentedly, in the middleCare to join me there?


  1. oh thank goodness the 1st part was fake, I was starting to feel really bad about myself and then I almost deleted you when you "greeted Jeff at the door with a smile and a drink" joking, not joking. The middle is the best place to be my friend!

  2. I just commented on your FB page too. This was an awesome post!

  3. THANK YOU for posting this. I don't have kids yet, but I do have a full-time job and a commute and a gym to try to get to, and I completely understand your message... you are so right. What you should have added at the end of the first part is something like "but I know my life isn't perfect, I'm just so blessed to have everything I do!!....." or something like that. Because the bloggers who make me feel the most inadequate, are the same ones who write posts like that and then talk about how "everything is messy and wrong." It makes me want to scream!

    Great message :)

  4. As I read the first part I was thinking this is so unreal, and was glad to see that you are not a miracle worker mom. O I was glad to read the second part, and to find that you are really real. I think we all strive to be somewhere in the middle, depending on the road we each are on. Me, I'm 70 and have given up trying to do everything. One foot in front of the other is my mantra, and so what if the dishes are left in the sink. They will wait for me and the next morning. :)

  5. Right there with you sister. Actually right now, there is a load of towels in my washing machine that have been in there since Monday. I love washing clothes more than once-said no one ever.

    But hey-If I was the most organized person on the planet-I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I like the middle-I need to do better about staying here! haha!

    Great post!

  6. I love this post! I agree, somewhere in between those two extremes is the goal I think. Because even if someone magically becomes woman #1, it probably only lasts a day anyway . . .

  7. Amen, amen, amen! The middle is a fabulous place to be.

  8. I am so there with you. I could feel the little horns of envy emerging as I read your first scenario and couldn't have been more relieved to see that your "real" was so much more similar to mine. The middle is the best place to be!

  9. Oh man....I want to write this post every single day. What a challenge it is to FIND the middle. How the heck do we do it all? How could we possible do more? WHY don't we do more? I am always wondering how I can change to be "better," but I think I'm doing a pretty darn good job. And so are you!! Browse the internet...clothes will get washed eventually!! xoxo

  10. I'm such an extremist - all or nothing, black or white, fight or flight. Just yesterday I was discussing generalized anxiety with a colleague and he said that perfectionist Type A individuals have difficult with grey. TOTAL Oprah ah-ha moment for me. The middle, the grey is uncomfortable and I think our challenge (or mine at least) it to be okay with the grey.
    I love how I ALWAYS hijack your comment section; it's just that you pose such thoughtful/thought provoking ideas (and I make everything about me, haha).
    one trick that Trev and I do when the house/yard hits an 'out of control' status is set the oven timer for 60 minutes and go on an hour cleaning/organizing bender... celebrated with couch/computer time. It makes the chaos a bit more manageable.
    lurve you. xo

    1. PS - the moment you said "run" I was like 'this is hypothetical' - you're not allowed to be a 'run mom' until I'm ready and then we'll do the 'couch to 5K' app together. pinky promise me.

  11. I'm pretty sure all those women who seem to "have it all and do it all" on the outside are a hot mess on the inside. You have a full life with a loving family and that is what counts in the end.

  12. Yes, yes and yes. I feel so much better when I actually am accomplished and get things done, but it is so much easier (short term) to sit on the sofa and watch Real Housewives.

  13. Oh, it is all about balance and I think that's hard for so many of us. Hang in there, you are doing a good job!

  14. I think that the middle is a great place to be. You are a wonderful mom and as long as your family is happy then you are doing things right. :] I'm trying to figure out balance right now with my first full time job and it's been a little crazy. I'm a person who likes to do things all or nothing so it's a challenge but this was a great reminder on where I should be striving to be, the middle.

    Missed your midweek confessions this week! I was all ready for a link up, and I still linked you in my post even if you didn't have one this week. hope there's one next week!

    have a great Friday!

  15. I think we might be the same person...and my name is Elizabeth too :)

    This was a fantastic post, so insightful!

    I have always wanted to be the first person, but I too am so far away from that. I get in modes where I have so much to do that it overwhelms me and I just end up doing nothing but watching TV or surfing the web. Why is it so hard to just meet in the middle? It always has to be all or nothing.

    This is a great goal to strive for.

  16. Thank GOD, that's not the real you. I don't think I would like you as much, lol ;)

    Listen, it's tough. Working and raising kids and keeping a happy husband. It's all tough. But you're right. We only get this one life. I have moments when I get really down because I feel like I'm failing in every aspect of my life. But there are moments when I just take a moment to breathe and think, it's okay. It's going to be okay.

    I really enjoyed this post!

  17. I have to admit, although I don't work, once in a blue moon I have a really good day and I feel like the beginning of your story. I somehow have enough energy and time things right that day to do laundry, dishes, tidy up the house and even clean the floors while also getting a killer blog post up and dinner on the table. Other days, I get nothing done, and I mean nothing. I wish I could find the middle as well so I can feel successful everyday.

  18. This is the first post I read on your blog, at first I did puke a lil in my mouth thinking OH, she is "PERFECT", the woman you idolize and wish you could be, because everything just seems seamless, easy, and effortless; but I know that will NEVER happen, not in my world anyway. I still continued to read and I'm GLAD I did, then I thought, this is my kinda girl, I get it! I smile sometimes as look around my "lived in" house, because really I don't think, I would want it any other way, because this suits ME, its MY HOME, and I like it! ;)

  19. My first thought was, wow, what time does this lady wake up in the morning!?! Glad to know that your life sounds exactly like mine and though it's not perfect (I hate ironing and rarely empty the dishwasher) I too find myself in the middle most days. Some days are chaotic but, thankfully for Pinterest (I'm obsessed) my classroom at least has the appearance of being organized and I haven't gone crazy yet, so that's a good sign. At home, well, still working on that organizational disaster! :)


Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover