A roller coaster ride that never stops.

Archive for the month “September, 2012”


All three girls are losing teeth right and left, literally, almost daily. The twins are working on those first inner eight teeth, and Jane is now losing all the rest along the way to the permanent molars. First of all, the $10 worth of gold coins I just got for Tooth Fairy purposes is going to be depleted tonight with Jane’s latest, and at first I didn’t understand how we can be blowing through teeth and money this quickly. Then I did some math. By the time Tim has lost his last baby tooth, SIXTY-FOUR teeth will have been lost altogether. That’s over two months’ worth of daily tooth loss! I now see that I will have to make tooth loss a much bigger budget line-item, but at the same time be grateful that the Tooth Fairy set the price two years ago at just $1 per tooth.



With this post, I feel a sense of closure on my endless ramblings about lack of organization (which has got to be infuriating to anyone with organizational skills).  A friend added one more concept, called “Chunking,” to a pantheon of mental coping devices to use when I enter a state of overwhelm. It is related to the “Bits” idea, and it is this: if you have a project, set of tasks, or any other larger group of things to do, break the first or next steps down into such small units that even each 30-second interval can become an accomplishment. For example, if I need to load the dishwasher, I can count walking up the stairs to the kitchen as a step, this friend suggests. And you know what? That IS a step. It’s a small one, but it is a necessary precedent to doing the dishes. The next step could be to empty the drainer in preparation for the dishes that will next be done. That can be checked off a mental — or even physical — list. This concept brings me no end of inspiration because (a) it acknowledges those littler tasks that do, in fact, make up a bigger task but often get discounted, (b) it lessens a sense of overload, and (c) propels you forward with lots of self-encouragement! The “Bits” concept, in contrast, applies to cases where I am not even together enough to KNOW what I need to do, but this one is to help with a to-do list that is complete but just a little too long to feel doable . . . like mine, every day.


I still fear that the amount of work that has to be done this fall on a daily and weekly basis to keep up with commitments is not actually feasible. When I woke up this morning, and not only pondered my to-do list but looked around at what two whirlwind weeks have done to my house, I was so very tempted to just give up. After a week of furious mental and physical effort — including plenty of tidying and vacuuming and organizing — this was still my Saturday. I have a go-to way of handling this when my feet just don’t feel like moving forward anymore, and that is to keep finding one thing I can do to make it a little better. One thing I can do, for example, is pick up a piece of shrink wrap on the floor and put it in the trash can. That is something to move the family toward more order and cleanliness. That project is complete. Then I see several papers scattered by the feet of a careless child, and I not only put them in order, but staple them and put them in my “to read” file. Then I pick a dirty cup off the kitchen floor and set it on the counter till I can get to the dishes for the third time in twenty-four hours. I just keep doing that for a while because at least it’s something. There is still more chaos than I can ever defeat, but my strategic mind is too overwhelmed to work out any kind of plan yet, so I just do the one thing. Little bits, one by one, that are at least heading me in the right direction.

Up Against It

I feel I am at a particularly interesting moment right now. Last week the school year began in an explosive, dramatic, epic way. Never have I seen behavior sink to such depths. Never have I been so out of ideas. And, with all three girls in different classes AND Tim having an impoosibly hard time starting preschool (which comes with mountains of paperwork, just like real school) AND me starting to teach all in the same week, the workload has been absolutely unbearable. Not doable. I am always short on sleep and time, of course, but now every minute feels so terribly urgent and unmanageable, like everything in the world depends upon it. It will get better, but how much better?

Some would say I could use a breather. But here’s my point today: what if there just IS no time? What if, with all obligations before me and all responsibilities of home and hearth still there — with the additional delight of ants adding to the pressure to clean up immediately after every crumb — and all the people still doing what they do and don’t do, there are no minutes left? What if work will take me till 12 each night and then I have to get up at 5? And then I have to start it all again? I understand that getting into a routine is tough. We do that all the time. But I am a pretty fair judge of a to-do list, and I’m pretty sure there is no way for me to get more than 5 hours of sleep a night. Ever. And that is with no breathers.

All I’m asking is: what if that really is how it is, and no one can wish it away, and no one can or will change any piece of it? If that is the case, then I just want to be able to say it and not pretend that I’m going to be a human person at the end of it.

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