I felt like I was drowning.
At one point last night—possibly for the first time ever—I took a deep breath and thought:
I am drowning.
I just took something *else* on, without thinking it through, because I thought it could help my family. As soon as I did, I felt a weight on my chest. A heavy, heavy weight.
My to-do list already spans 7 1/2 columns, and every day, I just move the long list from one day to the next in my calendar, though it feels like hundreds of items get crossed off daily. There are just are not enough moments in a day to do it all (though somehow, someway we are expected to.)
There are second notice bills that I haven’t paid, last month’s daycare tuition I’ve not fully been able to take care of, and piles and piles of laundry stacked up from two weeks ago.
The intention is there.
The time and money are not.
I woke up today feeling less overwhelmed but acutely aware of all the things that still needed to happen. And I don’t know about your brain, but when mine is left to its own devices… For. Get. It.
After wrangling three fussy kids to drop-off, my appointment with my doula client would start the day before the day even began. I still had posts to edit and monitor in ten different Facebook groups, and many messages to return. I needed to print something timely, but inevitably I was out of ink. And when I did print it, it came out crooked. I had boxes to slap shipping labels on. Groceries to order. An Air BnB to finalize. At some point I’d need to do research on new ADHD meds to see which ones my new shitty insurance will cover. I need to go back on meds so I can focus and stay organized… shit, I almost forgot… my appointment with the therapist is tomorrow (ironic but true.)
But first I have to stop breastfeeding, so I can go on said meds. But how do you finally, truly, forever, actually stop? At least there’s reliable ole cow’s milk, right?
Nope. Not anymore. Apparently our next generation of girls will have their periods at age 7, because hormones, or homogenized, or pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized—or this article, or that study says—or who the fuck knows.
And I have books to read, and meetings to be on, trainings to finish, and schedule, and calls to make, and calls to return, and things to pick up, and documents to send, and things to drop off. Clothes to buy, and to sell, and to donate, and appointments to make, and cancel, and to remember—and oh shit I forgot the kids’ cheese.
And none of this even touches on my new business that I’m trying to build from the ground up, with (currently) no investors, and no income. A partnership meeting for this business will be my actual first meeting of the work day, after all of the above.
But oh my god.
I’m sure we’ve all felt like this (so fucking scattered) at one point or another.
And damn, it’s scary. When you’re a family of five, living in New York City, sending three kids to daycare, living on one salary—a not-for-profit salary, at that— and feeding not only said family of five humans, but also a cat with stage three kidney disease who definitely eats better than the rest of us, and a dog.
A crazy, crazy dog.
These last few days happened to be very productive and fruitful, which felt good, but again, the list is just so, so long. I decided a top priority for today would be preparing dinner for my kids before they returned home, since this literally never ever happens. I had grand plans; until I opened the refrigerator. Clearly the grocery shopping hadn’t happened. They ended up with chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, and spinach bites—all from the freezer.
But alas, I’m calling it a win.
Now it’s go time: end of day round-up/pick-up.
I get downstairs with the dog, and it’s raining. And this dog. does. not. like. rain. But obviously I was already late. So off we go.
I didn’t have an umbrella.
Or a stroller, for that matter.
Due to an earlier “incident” at daycare—involving our doublewide stroller, leading to some f-bombs, and two back-to-back blow-up fights with the admin staff—I had determined: Today there would be no stroller.
Only I would lose in this scenario.
I get to school, and I am very, very wet. I presume the rain will stop, or at least let up, before I leave with everyone, so at least the kids won’t get soaked.
By now, of course, it’s pouring. I have one baby strapped on my back, the other baby on the front, and the toddler was thrown in a rickety, 3X-hand-me-down, broken tricycle with a push handle that doesn’t turn. I grab my soaking wet and VERY unhappy dog, and we head home.
Both babies are crying, and hungry, and so tired because said admin staff stopped me to talk about “the stroller incident.”
And it was late.
As I crossed the street, I passed a security guard.
Our eyes met.
He was smiling at me with kind eyes. And I smiled back. As I was about to walk by, he said:
“Is there anyone luckier than you?”
And I stopped.
In the rain, with three wailing children, and my crazed mind, and a laundry list of things to do, and my goddamn dog who was obviously trying to eat a street-chicken bone.
“Three beautiful children. Is there anyone luckier?” he said again.
I replied, after a deep, deep breath.
“No, no there isn’t. Thank you for the reminder.”
I could go on to talk about the fight my husband and I got into immediately following this moment, or the fact that, instead of writing this right now, I should be working on the project I took on late last night. Or tackling any number of the 47,283 tasks remaining on the to-do list. Or hey, maybe go to sleep?
But that isn’t the moral here.
The moral of the story is: Appreciate what you have. Live your life. Chase your dream. Stay as focused as you can. But be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. Realize it truly will always work out… somehow.
There will be ups.
There will be downs.
You will get soaked.
And see the light.
There will be moments of clarity.
And of drowning.
But somewhere along the way, you will be reminded – there is no one luckier than you.