Keeping it Real

One of the most pervasive complaints about social media is that it’s not authentic. We present the best version of ourselves and hide what’s unflattering. Pictures get cropped and tinted and only our accomplishments are touted.

I’m as guilty as the next person. Case in point, here’s the picture I posted on Facebook the other day:

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This is my family at our best. Wearing real clothes, looking all lovey and joy-filled. The cynical ones among you are rolling your eyes and yelling, “that’s not what it’s really like!!” And 95 percent of the time, you’re right. So, in the interest of keeping it real, here’s what’s happening right now:

I am lying on the couch, watching my son on the video monitor as he pulls the stuffing out of a hole in one of his stuffed animals and drops it behind his bed. I’m not going to stop him, because there’s an hour left of nap time and this is the 40-bajillionth day in a row that it’s rained. We are out of fun rainy day activities. Survival mode is in full effect. My son knows to stay in bed until the 3 is the first number on the clock in his room. So unless he finds matches and starts setting that stuffing on fire, he can do whatever he wants. My hair is unbrushed and my face is makeup-free. My clothes are not exactly clean, but my daughter is finally asleep after an epic battle. She is draped across me like a victory flag, so I won’t be moving a muscle to seek out fresh clothes anytime soon. I knocked over a glass of tea on the rug, but rather than clean it up, I just threw a towel over it because the baby is finally asleep and you do not disturb the baby. We will be having breakfast for supper, because even at 2 in the afternoon, I know I won’t feel like cooking dinner. Plus, I will likely bribe my son by promising pancakes for dinner at some point this afternoon as I count the minutes until Jon walks in the door.

Update: he fell asleep at 2:52, and I felt like I won the lottery. I enjoyed 10 minutes of both-kids-asleep-at-the-same-time bliss before the little one woke up with an explosive poop. As a result, we are now both wearing clean clothes though, so we will call it a net win.

That’s my real life for today, anyway.

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Finding Time

It’s early. Still-dark-outside early. I closed my eyes (finally) at midnight last night, but left my warm bed a mere five hours later.

Why? To enjoy sitting in silence and sipping my coffee. As a wife, a mom and a newly-minted freelancer, there are very few moments in the day that someone isn’t asking for something from me.  I don’t even get to go to the bathroom in peace. (It’s like a sixth sense, really. Hearing that bathroom door close is my son’s cue to stop doing whatever he’s doing, no matter how engrossed or engaged with it he was, and come ask a million questions or need something urgently.)

There are no minutes during normal-people hours to steal for myself. Each of those minutes is claimed by someone else – my husband, my son, my daughter, a client. There are meals to cook, errands to run, a baby to nurse, emails to answer, laundry to do. So. Much. Laundry.

If the days are a marathon, the evening is a mad sprint for the finish line. Getting dinner made, mouths fed, bodies washed and kids in bed, while racing against the unraveling of everyone’s patience and good humor. Once little eyes are finally closed, it’s time to find out how my husband’s day was. Or maybe do some work for a client. I’ve never been a night owl, but I find myself becoming one just because I need more hours in the day. Finally, I let the fatigue win and crawl into bed. But even my sleep feels furious and purposeful, as I try to take advantage of every minute before the littlest one wakes, hungry. Needing me.

And so I find myself rising from my bed after my daughter’s first feeding of the day, stealing time from the only place it’s available: sleeptime. I sit, soaking in the peace of a still-sleeping household, curled up on the couch under a warm throw blanket. I fight the urge to straighten up the bonus room or fold that basket of clean clothes sitting on top of the dryer. The TV stays off. The stillness will be broken soon enough. The minutes aren’t many, but they’re the only ones I have the luxury of calling my own.