I keep meaning to write, but I’ll be damned if I can catch my breath.

We’ve been riding a wave of birthdays and visitors while I try to manage client deadlines and intense sibling yuckiness.

If I had written last week it would have been a whine about being in over my head and forgetting to breathe and wondering whether to do law school or a doctorate to avoid having to make career choices about creativity versus finances.

When I get caught up in maelstroms of bickering and negotiating and working and not sleeping, I forget what’s important and focus in on tasks instead of flow. And when I neglect the things I need, the whirlwind feels faster and faster and bigger and…


So I bought a copy of The Secrets of Happy Families. I’m less than a quarter of the way through, but I’m intrigued at how much breathing room new thinking creates.

And lo and behold, being intrigued by a book means I pick it up as often as I can (granted, that means a pathetic 15 minutes a day). A pressing desire to read a compelling book reintroduces one pillar of my core: reading. And it means the boys see me reading. I can sit in the same room with them, supervise without helicoptering, learn a few things, and model strong reading behaviors.

Even more breathing, even more engagement. Family time spent on the person who has been viewing family as work rather than a situation or a reality or a backdrop or a network of humanity.

And boy was I tired of family being work. I even texted a friend that I love being a mother but freaking hate parenting.

From a few ideas in the book and my increased mood borne of reading, the sibling fiasco is getting better bit by bit.

And as the siblings chill, I chill. And as I chill I do client work faster, which means more sleep.

More sleep means more chill-tastic moments, more reading, more creative work.

I’m still barely making it each day. But now the water is to my neck instead of my eyebrows. (Or eyebrow, singular, really, because the post-surgery side is still way higher than the other one. Stupid cancer. I hate you and I hate what you do to families.)

I’m not yet recommending The Secrets of Happy Families. I’ll read more and let you know. But I am highly recommending a little touchstone work for those of us who feel we can’t quite make it through the day.

I kept making lists of the things I needed to reconnect with: sleep, reading, writing, blogging, exercising, healthy eating, socializing, creating.

Turns out I just needed to boost one and the others got a wee trickle down. Which means my all-or-nothing philosophy of how to forcefully cram balance into my life took a big hit this week.

Don’t worry. I’ll build my black-and-white world back up once I once again stumble out of balance.

For now, I have to go read a paragraph.



21 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. I, too, am overwhelmed. Too much, too personal to go into details but suffice it to say, it’s BIG. Too big. Hugs to you – taking breaths, enjoying more, reconnecting more.

    • Maybe we just need a cup of tea over the hill. That will give us perspective, which will make more space, which will feel like time, which will…
      Any time, lady. Any time.

  2. It’s possible I missed something b/c my attention to detail sucks. ARe you having a bout with cancer personally? I know it’s zero of my business, but I couldn’t tell from what you said whether you were recovering from your own cancer, which is unimaginably hard or someone else’s, also a hell. Either way, I am glad you are getting breathing room and reading room. I recently carved a little niche myself for some reading and I am better for it. It was awful being separated from it. I am warming up to the idea of you heading to law school. The law needs people like you: a heart, a soul, a vagina, and children.

    • My cancer was years and years ago. I’m six and a half years cancer free. Dear, dear, DEAR friends are fighting really nasty tumors.

      I’ll email you a good argument against law school. And seven good reasons to ignore the good argument.

  3. “career choices about creativity versus finances”–how well do I know that feeling–and the overwhelmed one too. Hang in there.

    • Oy with having to choose what makes us tick versus what pays the bills, eh? And yes, there are ways to combine the two. And we’re working on it, right? Which is why we get four hours of sleep a night.
      Hang in there, too, Alison.

  4. Joe Girard said, “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.”

    Good the water level is dropping…enjoy your reading time.

  5. I need this book. Hoping it’s at our library. The whirlwind never stops. People say it gets better: it gets different, is all it does. I’m needed, but in a different way. Motherhood never stops. I now am I sounding board for identity introspection and questions on which college and major to choose. Intense work, as intense as the days of worrying about choking on small toys and tumbles down stairs.

    I hear you, dear lady.

    • Mrs. Hottness, I know you do. I can only imagine the discussions about hazing and STDs and peer pressure and finding true north are easier if you, the rapidly receding sun in their solar system, have your own north.

      Gotta cultivate some self to be better for them, but being exquisite for them takes all the self time, which…

      Intense. Relentless. Rewarding. Devastating. Terrifying. Joyful. Frustrating. Inscrutable.


  6. I love the reading reminder. My daughter is just starting to read and I want to be a good reading model too. Glad to hear you are getting some breathing room.

    • My eldest wanted 700 books a day read to him. But the little guy, who sees us all reading, sits and reads books to us. Love how that, in addition to other behaviors we don’t actually want him repeating, reading is being actively pursued by all Naptime Constituents.

  7. Overwhelmed right along with you. Thank you for the reminder to stop for brief moments and let it “trickle down”. Family time shouldn’t feel like work, but it so often does. Especially with the constant fighting children. Does that book offer advice on how to handle the siblings torturing each other? Even if not, I would still benefit from a book about Happy Familes. Who wouldn’t? And, a book in my hand instead of my phone would be a lovely site for my children. Aha! Maybe I just killed two birds? Is it the damn phone that’s making them fight?

    • Siblings Without Rivalry helps after the youngest is about Three.

      Secrets of Happy Families seems geared toward families with older children, as my Seven is totally on board with several of the techniques and my Three keeps interrupting family meetings with knock knock jokes.

      I find, for me, the phone makes all misbehavior worse because it allows me to immerse in another, child-free world. Being called out of that world is startling and enraging. So I have to ditch the phone. And the computer. A book, though, requires different skills and allows me to hear things ramping up as I read, see things in my peripheral vision as I read, sense things with my Spidey senses as I read. A book is engrossing but somehow not sensory overwhelming?

      Dunno. Bueno suerte.

  8. I read somewhere that reading is as necessary as living and breathing. I find that to be true. I get about 15 minutes of reading time a day too. I will sometimes stay up later than is practical to get extra reading time. I know something is out of whack in my life if I do not have a book in progress, which happened recently. It was hard work to find a sort of healthy order again…and I’m still working on it. Good luck and be well. :D

  9. Yup, yup, yup. Land of the Big O – and not that one.

    Overwhelmed, since… uh… the birth of my first child? No, make that the addition of number 2. Wait, make that when their father exited stage left. Um, okay. We’ll go back to birth of Number 1.


    Yeah. Life with kids (in my book) means High Probability of Entering Overwhelm. But only for 18 to 20 years or so. (Right. That doesn’t help. I know. Sorry.)

    Bloody Mary and good shoes?

    Right. No time for either.

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