Monday, April 6, 2009

Plates are Breaking Left and Right

My Sunday School teacher uses an analogy of spinning plates to describe life. He says that when you are single you have one plate to spin. Then when you get married you might have three or four: your life, marriage, work, home. Then, as you add children, you add more plates to the mix and have to spin them all at the same time as you spin the ones you already had.

I've spent the last few weeks pondering "my plates" and trying to figure out how to continue balancing them all without continuing to send plates flying into the wall and shattering.

I don't want to sound like I'm whining or complaining. I'm not. But, the reality of my life is that I'm spinning my plate (which includes my relationships with my family and friends), my marriage plate, a plate for Josh, a plate for Ellie, a plate for work, a plate for my home/house, a plate for our finances, a plate for church/my relationship with God and a plate for our pets. So far, it seems I've crashed my plate, my work plate, my finances plate and the house plate and I'm teetering around precariously with the God plate, the Josh plate, the Ellie plate and the marriage plate. Seems like the only plate not teetering is the pet plate and that's only because at present none of them are sick. That could change in an instant.

I'm apparently a horrible time manager (this should come as a surprise to my friend Ann, who thought I must be a wonderful time manager - hahahahaha!!). Actually, it's likely that I'm not such a bad time manager as the fact that I don't have enough time to manage. Each plate that I'm trying to spin is a full-time "job" in and of itself. I just sometimes feel so absolutely overwhelmed at the enormity of all there is to do and the fact that I feel like I'm doing pretty much all of it poorly or by a "seat of your pants" method. Everything in my life seems reactive instead of proactive and it gets so very, very old. I have these great ideas of how it "should" be done (aka "The Right Way") and then I end up doing something very different because there is just not enough time/resources/energy to do it "The Right Way".

Someone once said that stupidity was doing the same thing over and over the same way and expecting different results. That person obviously never tried to change their lives and bad habits because it's just stinking hard to do!

Some days, when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed, I just don't do anything -- like today. I held Ellie a whole lot because she is still clingy; I changed diapers, fed her and rocked her to sleep for two naps; I clipped coupons; I washed a few loads of clothes; I folded those and a few more sitting on the table; I picked up the kids from school; I let Josh have a friend over; I cooked dinner; I read some email; I planned my work day tomorrow; I picked up the house a little; . It just doesn't sound like much, but yet the day is gone and there is still so much more to do. Tomorrow, I'm working a 12 hour day; Wednesday, Ellie starts a new daycare, I will work in the field and/or do paperwork, the kids get out of school early and will need pick up; Thursday, another 12 hour day in the field. Friday there is no school or daycare. The week is gone. Then, it's Easter weekend. I haven't thought about Easter baskets or Easter dinner or, for that matter, anything Easter-related. There is no school again on Monday and then I need to work the rest of the week to get caught up from the many days I've not been able to work.

Sometimes I ponder what might have been different in my life had I made different choices. Don't get me wrong -- I love my husband, children and the vast majority of my life, but I think, as we grow older, all of us ponder our choices, our paths, and wonder what the "road less travelled" might have been like. I'm reading a book now called, Second Draft of My Life. It's about a woman who changes the entire direction of her life. It's a thought-provoking topic that hopefully will lead me to be able to make future choices that will improve our lives and help me stop breaking plates. I suspect, however, that it is just my nature to try to do too much, to try to overachieve and to never slow down. It's a hard place to be, though.

So, am I whining? Yes and no. It's just the reality of the fast-paced world we now live in. Apparently, I'm going to need to invest in paper plates and learn how to spin with my feet as well as my hands if I'm going to keep up.


Jeanne said...

Oh my friend, BTDT. And did you include the "Maria and her health" plate in there, too? I have received two pieces of wisdom from other mothers that stuck with me:

1. "Being a mother who also works full-time is impossible. You never feel like you do your best at either. But somehow everyone manages."

2. "You do know that once you have 2 children you might as well have 10?"

Hang in there, and go easy on yourself. Remember, you can't help the next person until you put on your own oxygen mask first!

Mom to 2 Angels said...

Hey, at least you gave your blog an Easter makeover! That something Easter-related. I agree with Jeanne. It's impossible to work full-time and be a mother and do your best at both. Something always gives. For me, some days I slack in the mothering, but most days I slack in my working. There's just not enough time or energy to do both 100% all the time. Hang in there!

The Stahnke's said...

I totally know how you feel! There is never time for everything and everyone. I also remember when I had my second child how overwhelming that was to me. I didnn't think adding one would make a difference since I already had one child, but it was very difficult, and took time to adjust. Hang in there. My best advise is learn how to say no, to anything extra in your life. I started practicing that years ago and I still have to practice that. When you go to church there are so many extras that you can get involved in and if you do something well, everyone knows that and will continue to ask you to do things. Also there are endless things you can do in the schools but once again you have to learn to say no. Just remember God first, Family second, church third. That pretty much answers my questions on what is most important. Sometimes you have to sacrifice as well and trust God for the rest. Before we got Andrew, we gave up half of our cleaning company,(I was running with 4-5 employees, and now only 2) so that it would allow me to not loose my mind. It hurts financially, and I have had to get a bit more clever with my money, but it was the best decision I have ever made because it allows me to be home most of the time. I think being a mom is the toughest job ever, but hang in there I think your doing a great job. Your children look so happy, and that just doesn't happen on accident.

The Gobble's (Lanetta) said...

I have been to your blog before.. but, not for a while...
I loved the PLATE anaology... and the ending... buying paper plates... sounds like a plan to me!!!
Great writing.. and very fun...
Have a great day!

LaLa said...

Hang in there...hope to get together soon...need to meet sweet girl : )

Bridget said...


Going the list of things you did on the day when you did "nothing," made me tired.

Go easy on yourself. Easter is about renewal and rebirth. Enjoy this weekend!


Mayme said...

You must have been reading my mind and that's a scary thing! I know exactly how you feel about being so stretched. I make it to the end of the day and can't believe that I didn't get more done. Well, let's face it. We are older than we were when our boys came along and I don't care what anyone says, age is more than a number:)

Hang in there my friend. I feel your pain. But at the end of the day, we have done all we can do and that day is over. Let's don't beat ourselves up and the great thing is there is always tomorrow!

Love ya!