How to do better when you realize you’re letting people down all around you.

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It is really hard to admit when I am overwhelmed.  I should qualify that:  I’m not overwhelmed to the point where I just can’t function anymore.  I’m just … situationally overwhelemed.  Like, at work, I can hold it together while I talk to desperate people in desperate situations.  I can smack down the email that pops up with a quick response.  I can handle the 20-minute phone call that turns into a one hour phone call.  I can dash out the door to get my kids (just) in time from daycare/preschool.

See?  I told you it’s hard for me to admit.

Yesterday, the toddler was sick, so instead of driving an hour to work, I got the kids together and went over my parents’ house.  I feel bad bringing a kid with a stomach bug over, but I needed to make some phone calls to clients and there was no way I could do that with screaming kids in the background.  Not professionally, anyway.

Having my parents watch the kids isn’t really a way for me to be super productive.  It’s just a bandaid solution so that I can get the minimal amount of work done.  Inevitably, something goes wrong, so I can’t just leave them over there for any real length of time.  As soon as I closed the door to make a call, I heard the little one start wailing about something.

Later, I just collapsed exhausted in their living room, where my mother had given my 3-year-old a book.  She asked my daughter whether she could read.  It dawned on me that I haven’t been following my kid’s development in this area all that closely.  I … think she can read, at least a few basic words?  My kid looked at the pages but wasn’t interested in putting on a show for my mother.  She hadn’t napped that day, due to the disruption in her routine.  My mother made a comment about how she had ME reading when I was 3 years old.  I tried to remember whether I was reading BY 3 years old, or if I started reading after turning 3, like closer to 4.  I told myself it was ok that my preschooler is not reading yet because her 4th birthday isn’t until August.  I resolved to read more with her.

I got home, finally ate something, and watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for like 45 minutes.  Have you seen it?  It’s an amazing kids’ show.  Don’t laugh.  I sat there, eating fish sticks and cursing my relapse into carb-land (they’re coated with breadcrumbs), hating myself for barely scratching the surface of my to-do list that day.

Oh, and the blog post.  I post every Friday evening, which usually turns into Friday night.  DH is going to start “hubby blogging” in my spot from time to time.  He had intended to do it last night, but texted me to say it wasn’t going to happen.  So I said no problem, I would make it happen.  But I didn’t.  And I can’t even blame the fact that I passed out in my clothes, without brushing my teeth, AGAIN, last night.  This post was on my mind as I drifted off, knowing it was just not going to get done.

This isn’t overwhelmed, right?  I mean, if I was overwhelmed, I would be dropping the ball at work (NOT going to happen.  NEVER) and I would be huddled in the corner somewhere, hyperventilating, right?  I mean, I am sitting here, typing.  DH just asked if I want Dunkin Donuts.  I said yes, toasted almond coffee.  I am functioning.

Just … not functioning at full capacity.

And I’m sorry to vent for a minute here, but that sucks.  It sucks really bad, and feels effing awful to know you can do better, but won’t.  Not “can’t”.  Won’t.  I am choosing every bad action I am making lately, whether it’s my health, or how I handle my kids, or looking for shortcuts to half-ass my way through my to-do list.  I am handling everything, but I am stressed.

Here is the big takeaway, because I know you clicked on this looking for an answer.  Your first problem is thinking that I have an answer, or at least a good one, anyway.  I’ll take a stab at it though:

1)  Admit you have a problem.  In my case, it’s overpromising and underdelivering.  I’m going to start trying to UNDERpromise and OVERdeliver just deliver what it is I say I will do.

2)  Ask for help.  I don’t do this, so do as I say, not as I do.

3) Implement systems and automate as much as possible.  I love this idea, but I don’t really know how to get started.  For example, we could automate the grocery delivery service so that we get the same stuff every week, and that way we will at least have basic necessities on a weekly basis.  I like this idea.  I don’t have the time to take the hour and set this up though.

I’m still at step one above.

11 thoughts on “How to do better when you realize you’re letting people down all around you.

  1. Melanie I’m right there with you girl! I’ve gotten better with the asking for help part, but it’s HARD. I too am feeling like if more things were planned for me I’d be more effecient but of course the planning takes more resources (time and money) that I don’t have. One suggestion that might help you: October Kitchen. They are a meal delivery service in our area. You sign up on a weekly basis and the meals show up on a cooler at your door. There are special diets available too. Totally worth the money for hectic times like this.

    1. Steve I love that you linked to Tiny Buddha, that is one of my favorite sites! Great message in that particular post.

  2. Melanie, please don’t beat yourself up. We, as working mothers, have A LOT on our plates, and nobody except other working mothers, know what it’s like to have to juggle all these balls: work, taking care of our children and making sure they have everything they need…mentally, physically and emotionally, managing all the tasks it takes to run a household, being a good wife, maintaining all the other relationships in our lives, and trying to stay organized while making this all happen. It is just too much. Forget about taking the time to read a book, exercise or do anything else leisurely for ourselves! We all have room for improvement in the way we handle things, and it is good to strive to be better, but remember, we are doing the best that we can. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back once in a while, because, bottom line, for the most part, you get the job done. There is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one 🙂

    1. Thank you Diana. I like that last idea – a million ways to be a good mother. I just want to make sure that it’s true when I tell myself I’m doing the best that I can. Am I really? Or is that just something I tell myself to justify a lack of improvement? I think we should all strive for greatness, and that we are in trouble as a society when mediocrity becomes generally acceptable rather than merely excusable. And I think when some of the excuses we use to justify our acts or omissions (I’m too tired, I’m too busy) are really not very good at all, at least not when they become the rule and not the exception. But like anyone else I’m a work in progress. I know the general sentiment on this blog and in similar communities is one of forgiving less than perfect motherhood, womanhood, and overall personhood. And I certainly would never hold myself up as a shining example of “perfect,” even if I improved to a level I found satisfactory. Because you’re right, no one is perfect. But I do think some of us are too quick to give ourselves, and others, a free pass to stay far less than perfect, instead of finding positive ways to motivate ourselves to be great.

    2. I love this statement – there is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one. This is SO important to remember!

  3. Awww! I also have a really hard time admitting when I need help. I need to take your advice on implementing systems for cleaning especially because my house has just been getting progressively more disorganized, and it’s starting to stress me out a lot! I need to make a schedule of tasks and just do a couple each week or something, because the magnitude of it is overwhelming me, and we can’t find anything!

    Anyway, I know I kind of live near your work– if I can ever help let me know! And also, do not stress about the reading before 4 thing, hahahaha. I also read early, but my husband read late, and Nate is just starting to now at 5 and a half. You probably already know this, but there is no correlation between early reading and later success. By third grade, I’m pretty sure the gains are virtually undetectable 🙂

  4. Right now, not tomorrow, not next week, schedule in a day off, for yourself with yourself, no one else. In my humble, imperfect and often “do as I say, not as I do” universe… that’s the bridge needed to get from step one to step two. Believe it or not, this post reminds me so much of what I probably would have written had you not first…that I now have a day off next week. Honest engine.

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