My garden is languishing.

I posted a while back about how my family would be trying some new things–specifically, gardening and raising rabbits. The rabbits are still alive, I’m happy to report. Mr. P acquired two more–a buck and another doe–but we haven’t had a good chance to let them mate yet. Still, it’s reassuring that the three of them are still breathing, because I’ve had nary a thing to do with any of them.

My modest little garden, however, is languishing. Well, the plants are growing, but there are things to be done–weeds to pull, lettuces to harvest, beans and peas to string–and I have not had a spare moment to do any of those things.

The thing is . . . I have a lot of things to do. Here’s the basic list, in no particular order:

  • Be a wife.
  • Rebuild my business.
  • Be a scout leader, which at this point means keeping up with approximately six distinct and not-insignificant jobs.
  • Keep my house clean (doesn’t really happen).
  • Cook dinner most nights (it’s hit or miss).
  • Get four humans out the door to two different schools most days (happens like Swiss clockwork).
  • Maintain the family calendar.
  • Keep the puppy busy enough that he won’t pee on the floor.
  • Keep the old dog happy enough that she might decide to acknowledge the puppy.
  • Ferry children to afternoon and evening activities.
  • Read my Bible daily (or mostly daily).
  • Go to Bible study every Tuesday.
  • Teach my children manners.
  • Make my children do their chores.
  • Scold my children every time they act like morons.
  • Force my children to go outside and do something that doesn’t involve a screen.
  • Praise my children for everything, big and small, in an attempt to be a positive mom.
  • Maintain friendships with people near and far.
  • Stop being such a hermit.
  • Do budgets.
  • Clean closets, being sure to keep lists of all items to be donated to charity so that we can deduct the donation next year.
  • Find . . . well, everything that everyone is missing.
  • Keep track of all clothes for all six people–what needs replacing, what needs giving away, what’s old, what’s new, what’s too small, what’s too worn out . . .
  • Remind the children to work on homework and scouting requirements.
  • Fundraise.
  • Tweet and post to promote business.
  • Floss.

Those are the “Have Tos.” I’ll be honest here–many don’t happen, and those that do don’t happen very competently.

Then there are the “Oughts.” These are often disguised as “Musts,” “Shoulds,” “Whats???” and “I Can’t Believe You Haven’ts.” For instance:

  • Watch “Dr. Who,” “Firefly”/”Serenity,” “Sherlock,” all of the X-Men movies (working on it), and whatever other Geek Obsession of the Day is popular at the moment, whether I like them or not, because if I don’t, I can’t possibly be seen as a credible fan of anything related to science fiction or fantasy.
  • Read The Hunger Games Trilogy, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, The Fault in Our Stars, or whatever other YA book/trilogy/series is popular right now, whether I like YA or not, because if I don’t, I can’t possibly be seen as a valid critic of pop culture.
  • Read all of the appropriate and acceptable classics and speculative fiction books, because if I don’t, I can’t possibly be seen as a competent reader and/or writer.
  • View all of the appropriate and acceptable Christian movies, because if I don’t, I’m probably just contributing to the destruction of our society and most likely going to hell.
  • Attend all of the women’s events at church, because if I don’t, I’m isolating myself and will probably end up alone and sad with 17 cats someday.
  • Keep up with all of the parenting, knitting, writing, political, etc. blogs so as to appear to a) know what I’m doing, and b) look like I pay attention in the world.

Oh, don’t forget the subjective “Musts”:

  • Maintain the appropriate level of outrage over all acceptable social causes.
  • Pray for All The Things–everything that everyone asks for, because otherwise, the guilt creeps in, so either don’t commit or don’t pray, but either one produces guilt.
  • Listen to everything my children say, no matter how inane or boring, to ensure their psyches aren’t harmed.
  • Pre-read, view, and listen to all media your children would like to consume to ensure their precious psyches aren’t harmed.

About that garden . . .

The truth is that I have a dozen or more gardens that need tending, and the ones that shout the loudest get the attention.

I’m a terrible gardener.

And I’m so tired.

And there’s no time for any of the things I sort of want to do–namely, knit, read, and write.

This thing called life is not for the faint of heart.

Where was I going with this post?

Maybe this post is just the result of a really hectic month and a bottleneck of feelings that had to come out. Maybe it’s a desperate plea for help–for someone to take a few of my jobs so that I can breathe again. Maybe I’m just ranting and whining a little (probably).

This isn’t just about time and exhaustion, although that’s a significant piece of it. I think it’s also about this guilt I carry–this conviction that if I don’t do All The Things, then somehow I’m failing my God, my husband, my children, my church, my friends, my troop . . .

. . . myself . . . .

I have no great words of wisdom here. I have no homily or platitude or momism that’s going to tie this post up with a tidy little bow. And I don’t want to hear, “this is a season,” or “we must learn to say ‘no,'” or “make time for yourself–you need it and deserve it.” I confess that I am keenly aware that as the mommy, I am the emotional barometer of our home, and quite frankly, I don’t deserve squat right now. I’m barely holding my head above water, and after days of birthday parties, minor emergencies, strong-willed children, teacher notes, missed appointments, and puppy pee, all I can really say is this:

I feel like poop.

I’m not looking for prayer or platitudes or homilies or momisms. Right now, I just want someone else to say, “yeah, I get it. There’s nothing you can do. You just have those times when the closet isn’t big enough for all the hats and there’s just not enough butter for all the bread.”

Is it okay to just admit sometimes that we just feel like poop?

I know that God gives strength and grace. I know that I’m blessed beyond measure, both in this realm and the next. Maybe it makes me a bad parent, but sometimes, I really don’t take a lot of comfort in those things.

I’m too busy doing damage control.

I read the mom blogs–the ones that are real, the ones that don’t seem quite so real, the ones that suggest we soldier on and carve out time for our own interests, the ones that suggest that our time will come someday, the ones that just suggest we all extend this amorphous grace to one another.

All right. But that’s not what I need right now.

Right now, I’m frazzled, unhappy, frustrated, sad, irritated, overwhelmed, and at the end of my rope. All I need is for another mom to say, “yes, I get it. It sucks. Have a drink, have some chocolate, have a sleep, and maybe tomorrow will be better. Or maybe it won’t. I really don’t know. But this is what we do. We do damage control until it gets better. Eventually, we won’t feel quite so much like poop.”

I’ve been tinkering with this post for several days, and I’ve gone back and forth on whether to post it. I finally decided I can’t be the only one out there who feels this way. I can’t be the only one who takes little comfort in platitudes and Christianese and momisms. There must be more of you.

So this is my message to you today: Yes, I get it. It sucks. Have a drink, have some chocolate, have a sleep. Maybe tomorrow will be better, maybe not. I don’t know. But you just keep doing damage control until things get better, and eventually, you won’t feel quite so poopy.

Pick a garden–any garden–and start weeding.

Till next we meet . . .



6 thoughts on “Gardening

  1. Jane Wells (@BirdOnFireBook)

    I am, at the moment, at the edge of tipping into overwhelmed. I have been there and am desperately trying to steer clear of that edge. Everything seems so much harder when all those priorities rise to the top. I sometimes wonder if everything is so important, then what is it all floating on? What is the substance supporting all my musts, shoulds and wants? And, will it hold all this weight? (The answer is “no”. Eventually something collapses – usually in a spectacularly dramatic and public fashion which makes me feel even poopier. Yes, it’s a word. I don’t care what spell check says.)
    So, to you, this evening, after I’ve made the children go to bed and stay there, I will lift a drink to you. And I will read with abandon in your honor, knowing that we’re in this together.

  2. Laurel C Kriegler

    Hugs. yeah. I get it. And I agree with Jane – so much of all this *stuff* is a chasing after the wind and ultimately gets us nowhere. Sometimes we just need to turn it all off, grab some me-time by the horns and kick back and relax. To hell with priorities, expectations and responsibilities. For a moment. Take a breather and chill for a while.

    1. jmpadoc Post author

      There’s something to that, Laurel. I think our brains tell us as much. I hit a wall today, and it doesn’t appear to be moving. It’s like my brain throws up its hands and says, “I give up! Not another step until you do something else for a while!”

      1. Laurel C Kriegler

        Oh – and one thing else. Quite a lot of my FB status updates come from the “I surely can’t be the only one who feels like this” perspective. It’s a perfectly valid perspective to have – it’s surprising what comes out of the woodwork!

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