a Mother’s Day not-to-do list

You know that scene in I Don’t Know How She Does It, where Sarah Jessica Parker is lying in bed running through The List . . . to-dos, to-buys, to-calls, to-check-ons, to-look-ups, to-remembers? Yup. That’s my life. Being a working mom means being a master of lists. When I’m organized and things are running smoothly, it’s always easier to find the time, energy and frame of mind for all the much more fun and more spontaneous parts of #momlife like snuggles, movie nights, bike rides, cooking experiments and pillow talk with my sweet 7 year-old Miss Girl.

But for all my lists of things I need to remember to do, I is also have a list of things I need to remember not to do. That one also makes life a lot easier, and it looks something like this:

Don’t Chase Perfection

I wish my life looked like Pinterest. I do. But it doesn’t. And it never will. And the moment I accepted that I’m not the kind of mom who makes adorable bento boxes for lunch, that a store-bought cake for the birthday party is fine and that kid clutter will never be contained in her bedroom or playroom, I gained the clarity to focus on the stuff that really matters.

Don’t Stress

As long as everyone is healthy and alive, everything else can be worked out. Couldn’t deal with the grocery store? Gas station milk works just fine. Laundry isn’t done? Nobody cares if she doesn’t wear a school uniform one random Tuesday. When you stop striving for perfection and apply some creative problem solving to daily tasks, you gain the confidence to handle the chaos in stride.

Don’t Compare

Nobody has their shit together. I promise. I know because I have actually been accused of it on a couple rare occasions. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. That mom you see at pick-up who’s always impeccably dressed and arrives on time in a car that doesn’t have smileys drawn in the dust on the back window or an explosion of toys and trash when she opens the door is probably grabbing take-out (again) on her way home to catch up on work while her kids watch Nick until way past their bedtime. Again.

Don’t Judge

And the flip side of making comparisons, which usually only make you feel bad about yourself, is to have an opinion about moms you think aren’t doing it as well as you (which can feel good in a totally superficial, not-your-best-self kind of way). Maybe Always Late Mom, whose kids are always disheveled is working extra hours because her husband was laid off and she has even less time for all the stuff that has to get done than you do. You never know.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the other working moms out there — you’re all killin’ it in your unique way!

(this was originally set to be part of a collection of Mother’s Day perspectives on being a working mom for my work blog, but only 2 of us contributed, so we decided to scrap the whole thing. lucky for me and this much-neglected blog!)

no rest for the weary, y’all.


i know i’m cursing a lot lately. i think i’m just getting more comfortable here and worrying less what my mom and Spy think. not that they don’t know how i speak in real life OR ever even read this.

that said, about this post. i am a big, big lister. i always make to-do lists. i start each weekend with a scorecard of what needs to be done. i have a set of tablets i make these lists on and get kind of crazy if anyone writes anything else on them. i know. issues, but whatevs. and i get such satisfaction crossing things off the list that i’ve been known to write down something totally easy that i just did, just so i can cross it off. you have your weird things, too.

but what gets me is that the list is never, ever, ever really done. amid run/nails/groceries/laundry/blog post, there are like a thousand things i do every single day that are too minimal or rote or  . . . i don’t know what . . . to even put on a list. i mean why bother to add “clean kitchen”? it’s something that needs to get done like twice a day. every day.

but i have these moments like tonight, where i’m going so above and beyond the list and i’m like gaaahhhh. how much do i do ALL the time?! <edit>actually, my real voice is more like MOTHERFUCKER. does this shit never end?</edit>

so for the past 2 weeks, we have been back on the nanny hunt. that blissful October when Ms. J. was picking up Miss Girl from school 2 times a week and staying with her until 7:00 is burned on my mind as the happiest time in my recent life. for real. 2 nights a week of someone not having to leave the office at 5:15 to get a child by 6:00 is utterly life changing. for me, it meant an extra hour and a half or working, catching up with my girls, alone time with my husband, gym or running errands. Ms. J got a full time job and i’m so psyched for her, but i needed my 3 hours a week back.

i did a posting on Care.com, where i’ve tried with mixed results before. long story short, we found someone who i think is amazing. and her first afternoon today pretty much confirms it. a huge weight is lifted and i am happy. but. Ms. D was one of like a ton of applicants. in the first day-ish, there were 4 applicants. 2 flaked. 2 we interviewed. 1 is really amazing, but young and into a bunch of stuff that childcare isn’t the primary focus. the other 1 was Ms. D.

i had already had an exchange with the runner up letting her know we loved her and would be interested in occasional babysitting. but there were literally another 15 girls who i hadn’t even responded to. crazy. so one of the not-on-the-list things i had to do tonight (because i’m not a non-responding asshole) was shoot all 15 of these girls a note letting them know we picked someone else, but wanted to keep them in mind. it didn’t take long and for most, i copied and pasted, changing out names. but a couple warranted extra personalized copy. i mean. we still haven’t sent Christmas thank you notes, but this shit is done. and done well, i might add. i already have a few positive responses back, and those girls are top of the list for occasional babysitting, no doubt.

that said, really glad Ms. D unloaded my dishwasher tonight. for now, i can kind of equate the time it would have taken me to do that to the time it took me to be a decent, responsive human being to all these girls. neither activity was on the official to-do list. but both were immensely important. even on a night when i thought i was caught up on everything and had a free moment for . . . well, who knows? that invisible to-do list is still, always there. ugh.