Way before I had kids I remember watching the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It and feeling puzzled over Sarah Jessica Parker’s character. She was so stressed out by these mundane details of life. “Who cares?” I thought, about the myriad things on her list keeping her up at night. I figured I’d be a mom someday, but figured I’d never try to “do it all” and definitely wouldn’t stress about doing it all.
And here we are. I’m finding myself, at times, trying to do many, many things very well. I’m seeing more perfectionistic tendencies in myself than I did during the transition to becoming a mom the first time. I wonder if it’s because the transition to two kids is not as tough as I’d imagined — to be frank, I thought these early months would be hellish and they are far from it. So maybe I’ve become a bit cocky, taking on more things, aspiring to keep many balls in the air without incident.
And suddenly this week I’m feeling like the walls are closing in. Granted, everything is kind of a First World Problem, but I’m overwhelmed. I’m concluding week 3 of a nasty cold (or maybe a series of different colds), we are traveling two weekends in a row for what will be intense family events, Owl is on his second course of antibiotics for that good ol’ anal fissure that became infected, and there are a few other larger personal administrative items hanging in the ether. And I’d planned on making cupcakes for BRK’s school birthday party, which would require me to begin a baking project the night we return from 3 days of travel.
And yesterday, the realist and perfectionist on my shoulders had the following exchange:
Realist: Do you really need to bake cupcakes for this party? And frost them? And package them up and carry them into school Wednesday morning?
Perfectionist: Of course. And calm down, it’s only going to take, like, 2 hours.
Realist: But if you don’t do it, Monday night will be SO MUCH NICER. You can just unpack from the trip and relax and go to bed early.
Perfectionist: No! I can handle it! It won’t be a big deal.
Realist: But then on Tuesday you need to frost them with BRK. So instead of going for a run after work you will need to come home and frost cupcakes. ALSO, YOU ALREADY DID THIS FOR HER ACTUAL BIRTHDAY PARTY LAST WEEK.
The perfectionist didn’t really have a good response at this point.
“Hey BRK,” I said yesterday during dinner, “how about for your school party we get DONUT HOLES?!?!”
“Yeah!” she answered.
And so it was decided. NO CUPCAKES. We will pick up donut holes on the way to school Wednesday morning. And when we arrive home Monday night at 6:30 PM, I will just help put the kids to bed and unpack and not be measuring flour and butter and sugar for a baking project. And on Tuesday rather than spend an hour making and decorating with frosting, I will go for a run.
I keep thinking about the idea that it’s “only 2 hours.” Sure, but when your plate is feeling unsustainably full, to free up two hours is magical. To remove this off the plate is freeing. I will admit I wonder about being judged for being the mom not bringing home-baked goods. But then I thought if I saw a mom bringing donut holes I would think, “Damn, that’s awesome. She wasn’t killing herself baking last night!” I don’t want to be the mom Sarah Jessica Parker plays in that movie, and I think this is a step in the right direction.