Where’s the Line?

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I have never claimed to be anything less than an all-or-nothing person. I seem incapable to rest halfway. If I am good at something, love something, I cling to it. If I am bad, I tend to let it go. Like cleaning my house, for instance.

I feel myself tightly wound lately. Now that the baby is seven weeks old, I feel more like my old self physically and emotionally. (As much as I would like to look like Selma Hayek and feel like Julie Andrews singing “The Hills are Alive,” my old self will have to do.) When I got pregnant with David I felt like I was just starting to learn how to do this stay-at-home mom thing. I made the beds! I made whole wheat bread!

I want to do it all. I just want to wash the sheets, darn it. I don’t want to serve peanut butter and jelly for every meal. I want to do my Bible study, exercise, have the house clean, do all the laundry, go to playdates, clean off the top of my dresser, write thank-you notes, and not have frequent emotional breakdowns.

It seems that there are people who actually do all these things. Even people with small children. These are all good things, valuable things, and things I probably SHOULD be doing.


I also have a small baby who hates being laid in his bed, a toddler who needs an extra dose of attention, and very few shared nap hours between the two, if any. I have freelance work that must be done. I have a husband to love on and oh, yeah, a need to sleep!

Where is the line, friends? What is “enough” to do? I feel panicked because I can’t do it all but with no conceivable notion of how to do some of it without feeling like I am going crazy looking at the mess and my body and a stir-crazy child. I feel at the other end is the defense: my kids are small and won’t be small long. I cherish them. Life’s too short to clean.

And yet, the ants won’t stay away with crumbs lining the floor.

What is the happy medium?

File this under: Another Confession about How Not Only Do I Not Have It All Together, I’m Pretty Sure I Have It All Apart.

(photo source)

9 thoughts on “Where’s the Line?

  1. Those moms who do it all without breaking a sweat? I'm always convinced the world is full of them, but I have yet to actually meet one…

  2. GIRLFRIEND! You and I are in the same crazy boat with kids about the same age. We are still in the fourth trimester! You've gotta give yourself a big break.

    Take one thing at a time. And nothing is wrong with PB&J, especially right now!

    The most important things right now are that you are getting as much rest as you can, are eating as nutritionally best as you can, and showering as often as you need. That's it. Everything else is bonus.

    Your kids need you in a big way right now.

    I'm going to tell you what I'm telling myself: It won't always be this nuts!

    We'll get into a groove soon and it'll be a lot easier. We'll meal plan, make homemade goodies, do Bible studies, laundry, clean something…etc.

    The happy medium is putting out the biggest fires, and then doing one little pesky thing that gives you satisfaction when it's done.

    For me, I try and stay on top of the dishes (that means we run the dishwasher a LOT), keep laundry moving, even if it means that loads aren't folded and put away for a few days, make sure the trash is out, and general clutter is under control. As in, there is s tuff off the living room floor.

    I'm notw orried about messes on dressers or anything else.

    Go easier on yourself!

    Big hugs.

  3. Oh man, I feel your pain!

    One thing I've learned is that the longer the person has been a homemaker, the easier it gets for them. Practice makes perfect. And in my experience, that is TOTALLY true. I think back to when I first quit my job…. I was 4 months pregnant with our first, and even though we didn't even have kids yet, I could NOT keep it together. It was macaroni and cheese for dinner…. and if we were lucky, I might mix in some ground beef. I didn't clean, either. I seriously sucked at housekeeping. Then my first came along and I still hadn't gotten the hang of it. She got a little older and… I was getting better, but still not getting everything done that I needed to get done.

    Now I've been a homemaker for a little over 4 years, and I'm still working on things, but I have come a LONG way from where i was 4 years ago. My second is 15 months old (and STILL refuses to be put down some days…. and she's not only still in our bed, but still nursing as much as she did at 6 months old), and I'm finally to a place where I get things done. It's not necessarily on my timetable, some things take longer, but I finally feel like I'm getting my house under control again.

    Those first 9 months of my second daughter's life (she is SO clingy, never wanted to be put down, nursed 2039482304982308 times a day, etc.), I had to allow things to take forever. I started dinner at 2 so that we could eat between 5 and 7, because I knew I would have too many interruptions and nursing breaks to get dinner (that normally would take a half hour to prepare without interruptions) on the table. If, by some miracle, both kids were napping (or the baby was napping and the 2-year-old was content watching Elmo or whatever), I would run in the kitchen, cut up veggies and do whatever other prep I could do ahead of time (I tried to be a week ahead), and then if I finished that, I would frantically sweep the floor, do the dishes, pick up toys, or whatever needed done. And if my husband was home to make sure the baby wouldn't scream for 15 minutes if she woke up (and to make sure the 2-year-old didn't wake her), I would jump in the shower, because it only happened about once a week (gross, I know). It was crazy, and I picked my battles big time, and I dealt with my greasy hair and didn't deep clean for 10 months (until we moved! Ha!), but I just had to keep telling myself it was only a season, it would pass very quickly and I need to enjoy it, because it wouldn't be long before I would actually have time to read blogs (and comment on them!) and facebook…. even AFTER I finished putting away laundry and got caught up on dishes!

    And on the homemaking… practice makes perfect. 🙂 And you have the rest of your life to perfect it!

    Hope you're able to take a shower at least twice a week…. and I hope your baby's always-wanting-to-be-held phase passes quicker than my baby's did!

  4. And as for peanut butter and jelly, my friend had PB and sweet pickles for lunch at our table today. Try that for a change of pace…and take some good deep breaths. We all love you.

  5. Peanut butter and jelly = protein and fruit. 🙂

    I feel your pain, and I pray (literally, as I'm typing) that you will give yourself a break and still find some balance. And peace. Balance and peace.

    Love you.

  6. Story of my life, yet my youngest is already two years old and can play contentedly by herself. Man, infants are tough, I wasn't able to sit down for dinner till my daughter was 4 months old, I certainly wasn't polishing the furniture! I agree with Kacie, you just have to put out the biggest fires. My husband makes sure the kitchen is clean every night (pots washed, counters 409'd, floor swept, trash out). I clean the front bathroom when company is coming. I stay on top of the dishwasher and laundry (pretty much). I push toys out of the middle of the living room floor about once a week. The rest is catch as catch can (though I'm trying to get a better handle on it all). Good luck, it's only for a season!

  7. Oh and one more thing, you can also try baby-wearing. I bought a very basic sling (because I knew I wouldn't use it if it weren't super simple) and Tess loved it (great for the long months of colic)–anyway, that's another way to deal with a clingy infant and have your hands free for some basic tasks, if you haven't tried that yet. 🙂

  8. My first born was tough between 6 and 12 weeks, right when I thought I was getting into the swing of things being a new mom. This is a tough time, but this too shall pass.

    Hang in there!

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