America’s Got Talent. Me? Not so much.

A few nights ago, I watched America’s got Talent with the kids. There was an act, where a young guy balanced a series of cylinders one on top of the other and then climbed on top and balanced himself. We winced and watched out of one eye as he seemed to defy all odds. With white knuckles and baited breath we waited to see if he’d manage to stay on top  of his wobbly cylinder tower…would he do it? Bam. Down he toppled. Dream of a  million dollar Vegas act dashed. Just like that. Oh, I felt his pain. I felt it in my gut because I attempt a similar balancing act every day and have yet to successfully stand on top of my multitude of balancing cylinders without it all crashing down. These are the cylinders I attempt to balance every day:   Cylinder 1 is nutrition. Making sure everyone eats properly. This entails not only preparing healthy food (which means actually planning meals and then miraculously getting to the shops to buy the ingredients before finding time to get my chef on) but somehow getting my wayward offspring to eat it. In my house, this is no walk in the park. It is, rather, an obstacle course to beat all obstacle courses as I wrote about in The Guilt Sandwich.  Cylinder 2 is the laundry. I can’t even type the word without visibly shuddering. Laundry is the gift that keeps on giving. Except nobody wants it and you can’t regift. I seem to be digging myself out from under a pile of mismatched socks and Dora the Explorer knickers every second day. Do the pygmies I gave birth to appreciate this? Heck, no. In fact, sometimes they put clean clothes in the laundry basket because they don’t want to put it away themselves. My mother must be laughing right now. Apple…tree. I hate laundry Cylinder 3 is the nurturing.  Too much praise and adoration and we have ourselves a family of self-entitled, spoiled brats. Too little and they fall head-first into the low self-esteem pit. Do I ever get this right? Every now and then, I have days like this to let me know I’m doing okay. Cylinder 4 is discipline. Too much and I’m stifling their creativity, stealing their childhood, squelching their spirits. Too little and they run riot and will likely end up posing for a mug shot and blaming me. Most days, I feel like a policeman. A nasty, policeman from the No-fun Precinct. I want desperately to be the fun mum, the cool mum, the one they have the best time with. In reality, no matter how much I try, Policeman Mum crashes the party all too often and pops all the balloons. I know I have to do it, but it doesn’t make it suck less. Sometimes fun mum crosses over to the dark side so quickly, even I get taken by surprise. Like the time I decided to teach Little Man how to ride a bike.  Cylinder 5 is personal time. I know, you are wondering what this strange concept is. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the three minutes you get when you’re in the bathroom before a small person barges in, asks if you’re doing a #1 or a #2 and then demands that you plait Barbie’s hair now. It also isn’t the fun-filled half hour you get alone with the dishes and laundry after the kids are asleep (this is assuming your kids sleep at all). It is actual daylight time, when someone else takes responsibility for your kids for a while so you can run/read/knit/do gymnastics/browse Pinterest/do what you want to do. It’s recharge time. Make no mistake it’s no smaller or less important than the other cylinders. No sirree, Bob. Cylinder 6 is work. It needs to be done. It needs to be fulfilling. You need to somehow fit all the other cylinders around it. I work from home and my hours are nowhere near a full-time job and I still struggle. I have no idea how mothers who work outside the home manage. They are the Dalai Lama and are worthy of my awe. Cylinder 7 is equality. Each child is different and unique. Each one has his or her own needs. My three are so different it blows my mind. Miss M needs constant engagement and validation. She is the quintessential “look at me!” kid and it’s so hard to not brush her off but at the same time teach her that it’s impossible to be engaged 100% of the time. She is cute and funny and quirky and thrives off positive attention but isn’t a hugger. Little Man could cuddle all day. He is happy to play by himself and is totally undemanding. The problem with him is that because he doesn’t demand attention, it is easy to focus more on his attention-seeking siblings. I have to seek him out and ask if he wants to do something with me and, without fail, he is always thrilled at the prospect. If I didn’t make a point of actively making time for him, he’d lose out and become a classic middle child. And he wouldn’t complain. Baby G is somewhere in the middle – maybe that’s a third child thing. She is happy to do her own thing but would also jump at the chance to get straight back into the womb. Dividing myself equally  between these three is exhausting and something I always feel that I am failing at. Cylinder 8 is marriage. With eyes on all the other cylinders, it’s way too easy to forget this one even exists. At the end of a day of giving and nurturing and worrying about everyone else, it would be so easy to just collapse in a heap and say “I’m done.” But just because hubby is an adult and capable of looking after himself doesn’t mean he doesn’t need attention. And likewise for me. We spend so much time looking at our children, dealing with our children that stopping to look at each other and relate to one another is the most important thing of all. In my mind, it’s the glue that keeps everything else together. Before I was a mother, I was Michelle. He was Darren. That’s who we need to be when we are together. Making time to have fun together, without the kids, makes us better parents. There are countless more cylinders that get added to the pile all the time. As parents, we are constantly piling them up and climbing on top and  – crazy as it is – expecting ourselves to effortlessly balance on top, looking well-rested, glamorous and calm. What really happens is that, more often than not, the tower comes crashing down before we even begin to climb it. If we do make it to the top, it’s with eye-baggage, someone’s crusty booger wiped on our pants leg, ratty hair and mis-matched socks with a hole in the toe.

 

I’m here to admit, out loud, that I suck at this balancing act.  Sharon Osborne would not send me to Vegas. Well, that’s fine. I have knickers to fold, anyway. How do you manage? Are you a SuperMom or a useless juggler, like me? What do you find hardest to fit in?
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About Michelle Lewsen (They Call Me Mummy)

Motherhood is a privilege but sometimes, when we're covered in vegemite/vomit/poo, it's hard to remember just how lucky we mums are. In another life I was an award-winning Copywriter with something to talk about other than the fact that Jason Mraz was on Sesame Street. I moonlighted as a Personal Trainer and Aerobics Instructor just for fun (because I was bored, what with all that annoying free time...) In this life, I'm mum to three entertaining yet exhausting, delightful yet demanding, inspiring yet soul-sucking people I've ever met. I love them intensely and will go Mama Bear on anyone who dares try hurt them. Even on the days they seem bent on my destruction. I am also the lucky winner of Cupid's lottery and somehow landed an incredible husband. The poor guy suffers through my adult ADHD with an admirable generosity of spirit and a wicked sense of humour. I think I'll keep him. This blog captures my life. Sometimes warm & fuzzy, sometimes shriek-out-loud funny. In my spare time (between 1am and 6am) I've been writing a series of children's books. Soon, I'll be publishing them and your kids are going to adore them, so watch this space. WARNING: I'm an oversharer. Working on it. (Not really)

Posted on J October, 2012, in Family, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-esteem and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. There never seems to be enough hours, days, arms, legs, hands, eyes to balance everything we do in a day. Yet, somehow, miraculously, we still manage to keep the house from burning down, the kids from starving and most days, everyone has at least one pair of clean socks and knickers and we and our hubbies still manage a snuggle before we pass out from exhaustion. Thank the Lord for small mercies ;)

  2. Superb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Good Morning~I have just finished reading “America’s Got Talent, Me? Not so much…” . I only have a single little one but still feel as if I’m doing that very same balancing act on a daily basis. It’s comforting to know that I am not alone in this. My hubby and I decided that having a pet would be good for our little one and me being the animal lover took it to the next level. I have filled her world with a couple each of dogs and cats, as well as a few ducks and chickens. She adores her pets and it has encouraged her to treat them all with the love and respect they so deserve and crave. Feeding them, however, falls into my hands (sometimes she helps but it gets messy). So, at mealtimes I have many hungry mouths to feed including the people:) This is one of my cylinders to go along with the many others you mentioned. We enjoy our crazy life but it can definitely leave a mom feeling like something hasn’t gotten the amount of attention it should have. I try not to let it get the best of me and remember that whatever it is, it will be there patiently waiting for me later. I try to make my child most saturated attention and try when possible to throw hubby some TLC, too:) That usually results in the snowball affect when it comes to the passing the love on to the animals:) Thanks for your insights, as always. PS Have you tuned in to the Earth Cam at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina? A baby giraffe is expected to be born any time now. My family has really come together in the past couple days watching and waiting for the new arrival:) Google: Greenville Zoo, click on WATCH LIVE! It’s kind of like adopting a new pet but one I don’t have to feed and care for. We have started growing attached to Autumn, the mom-to-be and we are all very excited about the baby’s arrival!

    • Carolyn, thank you for such a wonderful comment! Your home sounds amazing and your little girl is one lucky kid with all those pets and such a tuned in mama. I will definitely google the baby giraffe – THANK YOU for telling me about it.

      Thanks again for your beautiful words. I appreciate it!

  4. The balancing act never ends – even when you become a grandparent! excellent article Mishy XXX

  5. Love this! So nice to be introduced to you and your blog. Thanks for all you do. :)

  6. Michelle Trenery

    Cylinder #9: managing your blog site! Wow – you are amazing. I LOVE reading your posts – I can relate to so many of them, working part-time from home and having hubby and 3 kids, all with such different personalities. I jump at reading your blogs when they show up in my in-box. In fact I have deleted a bunch of others because yours are always honest and hilarious at the same time. Have to run now – my kid #2 is harrassing kid #3 as I type. Bye.

  7. Love it Mishy, I so feel this way almost all of the time every day! Thank you for putting it into words and sending it out for those of us who are treading water for our lives!

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