Another day, another colossal mom fail

We write it all down. I still screw it up.
We write it all down. I still screw it up.

When I left six years ago to stay home with Bini, they threw me a farewell party. We had a big cake, and adult beverages, and my bosses and colleagues stepped forward to say nice things about me. One comment that’s stuck with me came from a guy that I’d worked with for years, back at He remarked that I was one of the most organized people he’d ever worked with, and that the newsroom was that much poorer for the loss.

Oh, if he could see me now.

In the ensuing six years, I have gone from being a list-making, agenda-creating machine to being forgetful, frantic and perpetually late. In just the last week, I forgot to pick up the carpool, I showed up at the wrong time for a meeting, I forgot to cancel a babysitter and I sent Evan to preschool with the wrong sharing item. (“The apple was for last week,” the preschool teacher said with disappointment in her voice. “This week is soup.”)

I know what’s happened, of course. I have a marriage, two kids, two dogs, two cats, a nanny, and a job. I also sit on the board of our adoption agency. We’re in a school carpool. Evan’s preschool requires parent volunteers. Bini has martial arts twice a week, piano and tutoring once a week, Evan has speech therapy and swimming. Some days, Evan goes to school until 11:30. Some days, he goes until 2. On Mondays, he’s doesn’t start school until 10. There are lunches to pack and healthy dinners to make, permission slips to sign and play dates to remember.

Someone, human or beast, always needs to see a doctor for some reason. The dogs need to be walked; our new dog needs to be trained. The cats inevitably vomit on the carpet, usually as I’m racing out the door. There is laundry to fold, bills to pay, closets to purge. I really like the floors to be clean, and Steve and I like to spend a little kid-free, laptop free time together each day. I try to exercise five days a week. I try to call my mom when I can.

We have our methods for corralling the chaos: I have a dry-erase calendar on the refrigerator where I put in all family appointments and obligations. I have my personal and work calendars merged on my phone. Every week, Steve and I make a list of everything we’d like to accomplish, and divvy it up. I have reminders on my phone. At work, I diligently put all of my tasks into a productivity app, and check them off as I accomplish them.

Something always goes awry. The nanny will call in sick for three days, the elementary school will schedule half-days for conferences all week (ALL WEEK), I’ll slice my finger with a giant serrated knife and spend a few hours at urgent care. But even when the train chugs along as it should, I still screw up. I’m always apologizing to someone. I’m forever saying: “This week has been crazy.”

I really don’t like being a disaster. So I’m throwing myself on your mercy, dear readers: How do you keep it all straight? What systems do you use to keep your multi-faceted lives in order? I know that there are families out there that are as busy (or busier) than ours, so how do they do it? Because at the moment, it feels like we’re limping across the finish line of each week, battered and bruised, only to turn around and do it all over again.

Working mom, constantly interrupted

That about sums it up.

My delightful friend, Jennifer, reminded me over the weekend that I hadn’t blogged in awhile. That’s not entirely true. I haven’t blogged for free in awhile, but I’ve been blogging like it’s my job since April. Because it is my job. In April, I started a contract gig as a communications consultant for a super-cool nonprofit organization.  I blog, and do social media, and edit things and write things. I work from home.

Working at home has its advantages, particularly when your awesome nanny cleans and does laundry and empties the dishwasher. I don’t have to commute anywhere. I can sit around in my pajamas all day. I don’t have to take a shower. (I do take a shower. Usually.)

The big issue I find is keeping my head in the game. Being at home, it’s easy to get distracted by laundry that needs to be folded, counters that could be wiped and clumps of fur on the carpet from my mangy cat. I’m also the one who’s taking the kids to their dentist appointments, organizing the play dates, doing the grocery shopping and planning the social schedule. I’m still the stay-at-home parent, trying to do most of what I used to do. And mostly, failing.

It’s possible for me to fit in 20 hours a week. But my chock-a-block schedule makes it hard to get — and stay — in the zone.

Here, I’ve outlined today, an average day. I’m expecting sympathy, FYI:

7:15: Awakened by two children crawling on me, and an aggressively purring cat.

7:20: Realize that I still have a toothache. Also, that I way overdid my workout yesterday, and my left hip hurts like a bitch.

7:22: Hobble downstairs.

8:00: Call my dentist. Confer about toothache. Schedule root canal for Friday, when I was hoping to be working. Fix lunches, clean up kitchen. “We’re out of compost bags,” says Steve. Add to mental list.

9:15: Put on a baseball hat that says “Grumpy,” throw on clothes, brush teeth and drive Evan to camp. (Bini has been delivered to his camp by Steve.)

9:30: Stop at Walgreen’s to buy compost bags, batteries and Sharpies.

9:45: Work.

10:30: Notice that Kona is filthy and needs her nails trimmed. Call grooming place and book appointment for noon.

10:35: Work.

11:45: Leash up Kona and walk to the groomers. Feel virtuous about getting some exercise, spending quality time with dog, and doing an errand. (Win-win-win!)

12:10: Realized I am unshowered, and hungry. Turn on oven with the intention of roasting beets that have been in the crisper for a week.

12:15: Answer e-mail.

12:25: Shower and do minimum grooming.

12:55: Make sad lunch and carry it up my office.

1:00: Conference call.

1:25: Notice that my battery is at 17 percent, and that the charger for my new MacBook isn’t working.

1:33: Log off, race to Apple store.

1:45: Arrive at Apple Store. Informed by idiot Apple employee that I have to wait an hour to see a “Genius.” Reply in a way that could be characterized as hostile. Receive new charger, for free.

2:00 Kona is done being bathed. Remember, as I’m driving, that the groomer does not accept credit cards. Pull into grocery store to buy something and get cash.

2:10 Grocery store does not have flank steak, the only thing I need. Buy skirt steak instead.

2:15 Park in loading zone to pick up Kona.

2:20: Get yelled at by meter maid.

2:25 Arrive home.

2:30: Work.

3:05: Bini comes home from art camp. I take a break to say hello and make him a snack.

3:15: Work.

4:00: Realize that I left the oven on. And forgot to roast the beets.

4:15: Mangy cat vomits on carpet, because she hasn’t been brushed since April. Clean up vomit. While doing that, realize that I’ve had damp clothes in the washing machine since Monday, and they smell a bit off. Rewash clothes.

4:35: Work.

5:50: Walk downstairs to listen to last 10 minutes of Bini’s piano lesson.

5:55: Bini says: “I never see you, Mom.” Heart breaks.

6:00: Release the nanny, begin dinner/bath/bedtime routine.

8:30: Yell at Evan for requesting water for the 50th time.

8:40: Write blog, sulking.

8:45: Realize that I need to update my blog image to include Evan, who we adopted over a year ago.

9:11: Work.

Hey, thanks for listening.