This morning I woke up and lay in bed making mental to-do list of the things I have to do today, and then fought back the urge to laugh hysterically. That’s sort of the norm for self-employed people I think, so I didn’t think too much of it. I just wished Joe a good morning (noticing he had a similar look on his face) got up, made coffee and then went back upstairs to put on yesterday’s clothes (I’m a little behind on the laundry) and then put on my shoes and jogged two blocks to the grocery store to buy toilet paper. (I didn’t jog for health. We were totally out of toilet paper in an emergency sort of way.) On the way back home I did that cheerful sort of "you can do it, there’s not that much" self-talk, then came in, presented the desperate family with the aforementioned paper (I did put myself at the front of the queue. I figured it was the least I deserved after taking the bullet and going to get it.) and then dealt with the mail, unloaded and reloaded the diswasher, kicked a path to my office, answered some email, emptied my voicemail, went back to the kitchen, got more coffee, gave one sticky corner of the kitchen floor enough of a wipe that I could stop worrying our wee cat would get stuck down to it, let Natalie in for my once-a-week round of inbox help – realized I was going to do pretty well in the face of the mighty to-do list, and then the doorbell rang.
It was the courier dropping of the final pages of my latest book, and as thrilling as it is to see it in almost book form, I realized I was going to have to proof those pages and with that, my head almost exploded. I staggered back into my office, and because really, the only way out of a pile of work like this is through it, I opened up the next email.
It was a really, really nice letter from a really, really nice reader who told me (get this) that I was an inspiration to her, and that she wished she could balance her workload and family as well as I do, and could I give her some advice on how I got all this work and the writing and the knitting and the blog and the housework and the family all juggled so well because she just doesn’t know how I do it all – and with that. I lost it. Totally lost it. If my desk had been clear enough for me to put my head down on it I would have. When I regained some sort of self-control, I realized that this is what I want to tell her- or anyone else who says "I don’t know how you do it all."
I can’t express that enough. I don’t think I could do it all. The only reason that I’m able to make any of this work is because I’ve got priorities and low standards and no expectation of doing it all. There are a million things I don’t do.
This morning when Natalie showed up I had to warn her not to let the dust buffalo get the best of her, and I say dust buffalo intentionally, because my friends, that is how far we are past dust bunnies. There is enough cat hair roaming the floors of this house that I could construct a whole other weird life size voodoo cat out of it, and that’s not the end. Go ahead. Ask me where my bra is, or if we’re out of milk because the answer to those two things is "I don’t know." and furthermore "I don’t care much." I sort of feel like my sole responsibility to make sure that milk was on hand for everyone at all times ended the day I stopped nursing my youngest, and that there are lots of other people here who could care about that, not just me. I’m not out of milk, we are – and that makes it equally Joe’s responsibility, or in the case of the 19 year old who polished it off, maybe hers. (For the record, that’s who went shopping for the milk this morning.)
I just don’t see any way that anybody could ever really do it all- especially if it’s all their problem. We’re all going to prioritize stuff differently, and maybe knitting appears lower on your list and the condition of the kitchen way higher, in which case my darlings… you should let go of what suits you. I could have a clean house and finished laundry and toilet paper and matching towels all the time, but I think that to do that, I’d have to give up some knitting, or writing or being with my family the way I want to, and there’s no way that you’re ever going to tell me that I am ever, ever going to look back on this time and think that the time I spent talking with my kids, knitting beautiful things, writing books or earning a living was wasted, and that I could have been way, way more fulfilled by a shiny sink, a more intimate relationship with my vacuum, or knowing where my damn bra is. There are only so many hours in a day, there are only so many things one woman can be responsible for, and I have to make choices, just like everyone else, and I don’t know how I would juggle it all and I don’t know how all this looks through the lens of the blog, but really, no…
I don’t do it all.