With every nap, with every bedtime, and with every moment that my children actually find a way to entertain themselves, my immediate thought is: What marvelous thing can I create with this time?
A pitch for a piece in The New York Times?
The first chapter of my novel?
A well-crafted, thought-provoking blog post?
As I walk downstairs with my head in the clouds, I try to avoid eye contact with the piles. You know the ones. Piles of laundry, piles of dishes, piles of food particles under the highchair, piles of bills and paperwork, piles of toys.
I know they need to be done, but I convince myself that a job that should take an entire day to complete can be done in a matter of minutes. Essentially, I half-ass them, doing parts of one, and parts of another on my way to the office where I will create my masterpiece. More often than not, though, I never arrive at the office. I get tied up in the piles, even with my best attempts to let them slide off my back, as if they didn't bother me, as if they were not nearly as important as creating something that will stimulate my mind and bring me joy.
Does anybody else think like this? Do othrer moms imagine all the things they are going to do with their “free time” and then realize, there is no such thing as time that is free? It all comes with a price. If you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing another. And when you’re a mom, there’s always something to do.
I think the problem is that I still have not fully grasped or accepted what it means to be a stay-at-home mom. Before my first-born, I romanticized what full-time mommy-hood would look like….
Snuggles in bed, looking lovingly into their eyes while they nuzzled up to be the small spoon to my big spoon, immediately followed by tickle fights, with infectious and nonstop baby giggles. Every day would be scheduled with playdates and story times at the library, during which I would chat with other moms and stare adoringly at my child while they figured out the world around them — smile on their face the whole time, of course. And then during nap time, I would become the published writer I was always meant to be. What else would there be to do?
Now, of course I understand that I was so very naive. Green. Stupid. Completely and utterly clueless.
It is nothing like the life I had imagined.
It’s waking up at un-Godly hours, 2 to 3 to 5 times a night. It’s doing your darnedest to keep your kids healthy by whipping up banana and egg “pancakes” (recipe below) only to have your 3-year-old claim that they are “BURNT!” and refuse to eat them, while your 10 month old squeezes her pouch all over her freshly-washed hair. It’s picking up toys and not-toys at all times of the day. And no matter how well you clean any given space, it will immediately be destroyed again only moments after. It’s being a full-time bodyguard to your baby, since every move she makes towards your toddler results in screaming, lunging at, kicking, or shoving towards baby.
When nap time finally arrives, you realize that you absolutely have to get a nap yourself to be able to muscle through the rest of the day, thereby forgoing your first chance at working on your masterpiece. That’s okay, there’s still the afternoon nap, you tell yourself.
When afternoon nap time hits, you’ve been emptied. Emptied of energy, intelligent thoughts, and discipline to prioritize something as frivolous as writing when there’s so much else to be done (i.e. the aforementioned piles). When I do muster up the energy to actually sit at my husband’s desk with my laptop, I just stare at the blank screen and think…nothing. I have nothing. Nothing to say. Nothing to give. I’ve given it all away. And nothing is filling me back up.
So inevitably, I find myself doing more logical, responsible things like reading through the 2,276 reviews on iPhone protection screens or researching how much it will cost to replace the lazy Suzan shelf that broke and smashed my very pungent balsamic vinaigrette inside said lazy Suzan.
The closest I’m able to get to my masterpiece is listening to others who are in the midst of creating theirs. Podcasts, audiobooks, masterclasses featuring Mom Bosses and creative world-beaters. They love to tell me how other women are out there writing novels, starting their own clothing lines or nutritionist businesses — and they’re all doing it with everything I have on my plate and more!
Maybe if I just listen to enough of these go-getters instead of actually doing the work myself, their creative powers will rub off on me and I, too, will create something or found something or speak about creating or founding something brilliant. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just wait until brilliance comes to me. In the meantime, I better get back to the piles.
p.s. If you would like to make healthy paleo pancakes for your ungrateful children, I have left the recipe below. It's a staple in my chaotic home. Unless, of course, I burn them. You're welcome.
Paleo Banana Pancakes – Easy, Kid-Friendly (Depending on your kid), and Filling
- 1 banana
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. Cooking oil (Ghee, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil)
- Preheat non-stick pan on stovetop at medium heat
- Mash banana until it's a banana paste, with little to no lumps
- Add mashed banana, egg, and egg white to bowl and whisk
- Add in pinch of salt
- Add ghee or olive oil to pan
- Spoon dollops of banana/egg mixture onto pan one by one, making silver dollar-sized pancakes around the circumference of the pan
- Lower the heat to medium-low and keep an eye on the pancakes so they don't burn. I would estimate about 3-4 minutes per side but that depends on your stove and your pan. The best way to check if they're ready is to attempt to flip them over with a spatula. If they hold together, they're ready. If they are still too gooey and fall apart in your attempt, they are not ready.
- Let cook on flip side for another 3-4 minutes on low. They should be golden brown on each side when they're done. It may take a couple of flips back and forth to get them there.
- Optional: If you're kids are being very good or you want to bribe good behavior in exchange for a special treat, add in dark chocolate chips after the second flip. Do NOT overdo this, otherwise it will no longer be special and will be expected, leading you to serve them chocolate chips every morning when you're original intention was to get them to eat a healthy hearty breakfast.