The Right Stuff

I used to pride myself on getting the job done. I would take on lots of assignments, reveling in the challenge and in the work (yes, the work). And now, despite being interrupted every few seconds (not minutes – minutes would be a treat!) by my two-year-old and seven-year-old, I still think I can do it all. I still say yes to assignments. I still pitch ideas. I still think of personal projects to pursue. Is it inertia? The need to feel I’m someone other than a slave to the seemingly irrational demands of a toddler? The desire for something to look forward to other than homework, science experiments where I have to make a conscious effort not to do the work for my grade schooler, and PTCs? The craving for individuality?

Whatever it is, I had a wake up call this morning. I was about to submit an article I had just written, proud of how I was able to pull it off despite all of the above (don’t ask me to type it again, I’m exhausted just thinking about it), when I scrolled through my messenger thread with the editor who gave me the assignment and I realized I had missed something! She had asked me to interview someone and I had completely forgotten! Absolutely and totally. Mommy friends blame sleepless nights and epidural deliveries, but I know even if those two could possibly have added to the cause, that that’s not all it is.

I am cramming too much into my already overflowing brain. It cannot accommodate school schedules, doctor and dentist appointments, book releases and mailing lists, potty training, weaning, and breathing. I cannot do it all. I am mother, watch me crumble.

Early this year, my grandfather passed away. When I visit my grandmother’s house, I still expect him to be in his little room and I have to consciously stop myself from going up to say hi. And goodbye. I miss him so much. I wish I had talked to him more when he was alive, the way I used to when I was younger. But because I am always chasing after my kids, making sure they’re eating and not falling flat on their faces, my focus for the past 7 and a half years has been elsewhere. I don’t even know if I have been able to mourn properly, completely because a little high-pitched voice is constantly clamoring for me to “stay right over here, Mama.”

I know my lolo loved me and my girls. I also know my editor said it’s okay about not interviewing that person. But I know it’s not. This is not the kind of existence I want to have – one that has no focus because I’m always stressing over what I have forgotten.

Lent has begun. It is a time for letting go, for detachment, for growing closer to God. I believe my realization couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. Yes, on Fridays my fellow Catholics and I will be depriving ourselves of meat. But I think this frazzled mother needs to do much more than that lest life pass her by in a blur of frustration and guilt.

I need to figure out which jobs must get done in order to get the RIGHT job done. Lent tells us, in order to do that, we must let go. But that’s not what I’m going to do. I am going to hang on — hang on to the things that matter, the things that count, to what’s in my heart. Starting with the high-pitched voices rising in volume in their efforts to win my attention.

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  1. Aww this is beautiful! I completely get where you’re coming from, this happens to me all the time. 🙂 someone told me that before, “You were so good when you came in, and now, after you gave birth, you’re not here anymore.” 😑 here’s to us mothers letting go and getting the right job done! ❤️ Thank you for being so authentic, Ines 🙂

  2. Hi Ines, it’s wonderful to read this. I go through the same thing– trying to carve (sometimes desperately) another identity apart from being a mother and wife. When I feel overwhelmed I try to remember this wonderful essay by Anne Tyler, where she writes, “It seems to me that since I’ve had children, I’ve grown richer and deeper. They may have slowed down my writing for a while, but when I did write, I had more of a self to speak from. After all, who else in the world do you have to love, no matter what? Who else can you absolutely not give up on? My life seems more intricate. Also more dangerous.”

    These words are empowering to me. Empowering and relaxing.

    I’m glad for you– glad that you’re giving yourself permission to hang on to the things that truly matter.

    • Dear Karmi,

      That quote is wonderful!!!! I want to print it out and frame it!!! To remind me every single day about what’s important 🙂

      Thank you so much!!!