Most days can be improved with chocolate

Of late I’ve been writing lots of fragmentary blog posts, ones that contain many small moments or ideas rather than taking time to give the things full space. In this way the blog is an accurate representation of the state of my mind and my life. Each day is crammed full of things to do and problems to solve. I pack a month’s worth of events into each week. Inevitably I lose track of some things. Today I missed yet another visiting teaching appointment. Again it was simply because I was distracted and forgot. This visible organizational failure was the proverbial last straw and I cried a bit.

The thing is, I really am getting all the critical things done. The work I do for the business is on schedule, if not as fast as I would like. I’ve been keeping up with kids and supporting homework efforts. The average cleanliness of the house is higher than it has been in a long time. (Though today is not a particularly good example of this.) I’m handling so much and doing it well. On some level I know this. But the small failures knock me right off my feet and bring me to tears. I don’t cry for the tasks themselves, mostly they aren’t important. My tears are grief that I’m working so hard, staying so focused, and it still isn’t enough. Who is it not enough for? Me. Howard and the kids are not complaining. Friends and neighbors understand and sympathize. My harshest critic lives inside my own head and she has really high expectations.

Things are settling in. I can see it. I spent the two weeks prior to this one working heavily with Kiki, almost to the exclusion of the other kids. Kiki settled just as Gleek’s annual calm adjusting-to-school period ended. This week has been mostly about Gleek with a smattering of parent teacher conferences for Link. Sometimes when I tuck Patch into bed at night I listen to him chatter about his day. Or rather, I look attentive, but often my mind wanders to other places. Then I feel sad that he does not get nearly the focused attention that the other kids do. At least not from me. My guilt is somewhat appeased that Howard sometimes feels guilty because he spends more time with Patch than the others. Then I remind myself that the patterns were different before and they’ll shift again. Which makes me tired because I’m a touch exhausted from all the adjusting we’ve been doing in the last few weeks.

In the midst of today’s crying bout, Howard declared that I needed to get out of the house. So he bundled me into his car and off we went. Mostly what we did was grocery shop, but there was talking too. It was good. The best bit was the ending when Howard took me to a chocolate shop which caters to connoisseurs of the cacao bean. The differences in flavor were stunning, particularly so because the flavors are not additives, but a reflection of where the bean is grown. It was like I’ve always assumed wine tasting would be, only with chocolate. We did not bring home very much. We don’t need to be stuffing ourselves with chocolate. Also we can’t afford very much of this stuff. We’ll savor the little we have bit by bit over the next few weeks.

I returned home a calmer person. By some minor miracle, I was able to retain that calm through the chaos of children flocking into the house and back off to their events. Nothing required super-human effort from me, which is good since I had none to give. I am still very tired. I still have more things to do tomorrow than I can reasonably expect to be done in a single day. But I keep hoping that I’ll have one of those days where I breeze through a hundred tasks with time to spare. On my best days, I exceed my own expectations. Which is probably what tricks me into keeping the bar so high. On my best days, I know that I have to give myself breaks and take days off. I plan for that. Unfortunately on the days when I desperately need rest, a less charitable version of myself tends to be in charge. I could try to remind myself that I am allowed low energy days, but even that requires effort at a time when effort is at a premium. So mostly what I do is fall to pieces a little. Then I pick myself up and keep going. Or Howard picks up the pieces and puts them back. He’s gotten quite good at it.