Fragile • Doing it all and achieving nothing at all
I was walking or rather hobbling around the garden earlier, on account of almost 11 hours of driving in 24 hours this week, and a back which has said quite loudly and clearly, ENOUGH! And I tutted to myself that a few of the beautiful plants which have come into flower have started to wilt and I forgot to snap a photo. I had this vision of taking a set of photos, of the garden through the seasons and framing them as a Christmas present. I stood there, feeling a little cross with myself and it suddenly hit me how these floppy poppies and wilted peonies, with their petals strewn across the garden path, embodied everything I was feeling at that exact moment.
The 3 or 4 peonies still vibrant with their bursting heads of layer upon layer of petals can't be snipped. They are so fragile that just one gust of wind will force the deep pink petals to tumble to the ground. On the surface they stand proudly, amongst the greenery, but at any point they could crumble.
They've kept going, stood strong against the strong south westerly breezes we have had over the weekend, but they won't last forever. We trundle out every morning from the back door, which drives me crazy because I like using the front door, and the boys run their fingers through the delicate Iris' gently nodding in the wind. As soon as they come into bloom they look almost tragic, crinkly petals that last for weeks, despite their meek exterior.
I had my week planned out almost to the minute. The after school club finally opened with just two boys booked in for the sessions until 6. Our boys. I felt dreadful at the thought that they would be on their own, but they weren't on their own they had each other! And the leaders couldn't speak highly enough of them at pick up time, at how they'd played so nicely together, been polite, well mannered, engaging. It was a relief because at home, those moments are out of balance with the attitude, the back chat, the playful wrestling that always end up in tears. You know when you have a "I've turned into my mother moment" and it stops you in your tracks. Not in a bad way, but you've been instantly transported back to your childhood and you can hear her words. "It'll all end in tears" and then "I told you it would all end in tears!"
At 12 hours or so notice I made an emergency call to my mum and sister and drafted in reinforcements to help with the boys, which meant a sweet overnight guest came with mum and she had all three grandchildren until we got back from a trade show in Cheltenham.
Unexpectedly I had to help Rich at a trade show for our tea company, and it completely threw my week right off course! 2 days child free until 6 I had planned for editing, calls for my development consultancy job and sharing a blog post or two (Thanks if you are still reading, all work and no play makes this blog a very quiet place.) all went out of the window. I'm dying to share the party photos from Sammy's birthday, our new offices, my online blog shop and my branding developments for this blog, but it's all had to wait.
People often say wow you are like superwoman, how do you fit it all in or you must have an extra few hours in the day we don't, but the truth is I have well and truly burnt the candle at both ends and they have met head on in the middle. I almost felt I shouldn't post this, that keeping up the perception of being able to do it all was an achievement, but actually I feel that achieves nothing at all.
It's good to offload sometimes, share your secrets and fears. To admit you have carried around presents that need to be posted for over a week because you've arrived the post office at closing time. Normal life for us often includes dinner at 10pm, no tv and both being buried behind a laptop of an evening.
We have worked from home for almost 5 years, Rich doing a couple of years before that too, and the novelty has definitely worn off. It's a discipline to work from home, to have boundaries and stick to them. I have a post to share with my advice for anyone starting to work from home so I won't go into too much here, but the biggest misconception is the concept of the "working week". We simply don't have one. Weekdays blur into weekends and as busy as our calendar is, the work just gets squeezed into evenings, Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. Emails come in, messages come in and we try and juggle the responsibility we have to our boys and each other and the wonderful clients we are lucky to work with.
I am not in the least complaining. I love my hectic life, it's who we are and I thrive on it. I race around and I feel a buzz, that feeling of being alive, flying by the seat of your pants, it's what makes me tick. It was the same when I started my working career. Being a land buyer was an exhilarating but nervous ride. And that balance between the two was what made me fly as high as a kite.
I just need a bit of help around the house. I'm still smiling but my eyes are tired. Becoming a tea merchant this week meant I was managing 4 jobs and that's impossible with boys who finish school at 3.15pm. I had been beating myself up, convincing myself that I was failing at everything and then I read this post by Emily and I felt relieved. I subscribe to Emily's posts (Forgive me if you subscribe to my newsletter, I am sure you can't remember the last time you got one!) and she has been sort of a mentor figure to me over the last couple of years.
Since we moved we've had a temporary state. There's parts of the house we've renovated, and parts that are so unloved I could cry. You could write your name in the dust on our bedside tables, our blinds constantly go out of kilter and hang at precarious angles, and more often than not there's a new toilet roll delicately balanced on the empty old one! It's not really us, it's a reflection of us at this moment in time.
I'd so much rather enjoy an afternoon with our very bestest friends and family, sat on hay bales we've borrowed from our neighbours (Yes I turned up to our lovely friend's small holding across the road in a summer dress and flip flops. They were in wellies and just rolled their eyes and laughed!) and worry about the dusting another time.
I joke at preschool that my achievement each day is getting them to school with a healthy packed lunch, clean and ironed clothes (We iron to order... unless my lovely mum or equally lovely mother in law has been to visit.) Trying to chase all your dreams can sometimes feel like an impossible task but I'm not ready to give up on that dream.
I just need a reboot. A chance to get on top of everything. Be more disciplined at home. I love that Rich and I are from the same mould, that we have this shared determination to create something. He always says, what do you want to do? Do you want to work or do you want to make something? Something special. But that sometimes can feel like it's taken hold of your soul. That's there's no minute left in a day to stop and actually enjoy what you are creating. Last year I forced myself to stop taking my big camera out with us every where we went. You need sometimes that are just for you. In the blogging world it's kind of gone full circle, that now the ordinary events of our daily lives are more applauded than the more traditional exciting ones. That there's more to congratulate that we document all the little things our children do as opposed to the big moments, even though they have absolutely no say in whether they want all their milestone moments and the moments in between written in internet history forever. That every day they have a camera in their face, that their lunch, their outfits, their sleep times, their down time or intimate moments gets shared to hundreds if not thousands. My childhood photo albums are bursting with birthday parties, holidays with my cousins at Southbourne and yet some of my favourite photos I've taken of the boys are of the times my parents just enjoyed, the ones they took a mental picture of because there was no need to share it with the masses.
So tonight, I feel a little fragile, my body is giving me a warning sign and I know I need to make changes. Not necessarily to do less, but to manage it better. Get some help around the house, prioritise. Instead of thinking what do I need to do this week, think about what do I need to do today.
I pinch myself everyday that this is the life we have worked hard to create. That our children are confident, dynamic, thriving young boys, that my niece feels almost as comfortable at our house as she does at home, that Rich and I will have a chance to reconnect on our child free trips away throughout the year. That it's ok to struggle sometimes. To feel out of control. It's normal! Every day is adventure.
And if there are days I feel like a lonely foxglove, battling the winds that's ok too. Because tomorrow the sun will shine.
Ordinary can be extraordinary every single day.
Linking up with Mummy Daddy Me and The Ordinary Moments