My Least Favorite Compliment.

It never fails. Whether I’m at a family gathering, out with friends or even just talking to strangers in the doctor’s office, when the topic turns to our busy lives, someone says it.

“I just don’t know how you do it all.”

Sometimes it’s said with admiration. Sometimes it’s said with disdain.  More often than not, it’s said with a fair amount of disbelief (and more than a little pity). And no matter what the situation, I’m supposed to shrug my shoulders, smile sheepishly and say, “Well, you know. I manage.”

But you know what? The truth is, I don’t. I don’t do it all. It’s simply not humanly possible. And what I do do? Is never enough. In fact, on most days, I’m behind before my alarm even goes off.

I focus on the basics. Things like keeping Tori clean and fed. Making sure the animals don’t starve to death or die of dehydration. Making sure we all have (semi) clean clothes to wear and dishes to eat with. Making brilliant ideas happen between the hours of 9 and 5—even if I’ve only had four hours of sleep. And, of course, making sure my family knows that they’re appreciated and loved (even when I’m wishing they’d just disappear for an hour or two).

But you know what slides?

Things like saving the earth. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a landfill with my name on it. I rarely recycle, still use the plastic bags at the grocery store and feed my family off paper plates more often than not. And that’s just for starters.

Also, housework. As I sit here writing, I’m staring at no less than four loads of laundry waiting to be folded. I just spent an hour and a half cleaning my kitchen—and there’s still a half a load of dishes that needs to go in the dishwasher. And our carpet? Is polka dotted with black fur balls in more places than I care to admit.

My relationship. Don’t get me wrong. Bri and I are doing fine. But at the end of a long day of dealing with political shenanigans at work, tantrums at home and cleaning puke off the carpet (damn cats), I feel anything but sexy. That kind of thing takes its toll after a while…

Myself. I haven’t run in…weeks. This morning, I had to take a Q-tip to my foundation container in order to get the last smidges out. And my eyebrows? Look more like Bert’s (from Sesame Street) than I care to admit. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with the level of maintenance I need to look my best.

So, please. When you see me? Don’t ask me how I do it all. And if you do, be prepared to hear the ugly truth. I just don’t have the energy to play the stoic super mom anymore.

Does anybody out there feel like they actually “do it all?” And if you do, can you please tell me how you do it? I could use some pointers.

31 Comments on My Least Favorite Compliment.

  1. Kathleen Foulkrod
    October 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm (5 years ago)

    All I can say is…we may not be directly related, but I love you!

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 10:25 am (5 years ago)

      *mwah* Back at ya, babe.

      Reply
  2. Andi
    October 19, 2010 at 8:23 am (5 years ago)

    Do it all?! How about do it some?!

    When I write my TO DO lists, I always put at least three things on there that I’ve already done, so at the end of the day I know I have at least those to cross off.

    I know the Happy Hour rates for every fast food place (can we say Sonic?!) because its easier than dealing with the kitchen.

    And my hair?! Well, those roots that were showing a few months ago are now almost to my shoulders. I don’t think it’s called roots anymore. I think now it’s just called hair.

    So, yeah, I haven’t found a way to do it all. Or do it a little. But I’m starting to find a way to love the little that I do. And that can make all the difference.

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 10:24 am (5 years ago)

      I do that with To Do lists too. I don’t think it is possible to do it all…but I need to do a better job of loving what I do (like you). Although I don’t think I can ever learn to love toilet cleaning. Is that okay?

      Reply
      • Andi
        October 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm (5 years ago)

        Ah, and that is why we have husbands. I make deals with mine. The best one? He doesn’t have to think about toilet seats being up or down or sideways or there at all!!! He just has to clean them every week (or so). Best of both worlds. He doesn’t get nagged and I don’t have to clean ’em (although I did almost fall in once and that kinda sucked. . . . ).

        Reply
        • Amber
          October 20, 2010 at 10:03 am (5 years ago)

          My hub does his share. But toilets? Don’t register with him. I’d have to pinch myself to make sure I was awake if I saw him cleaning one.

          Reply
          • The Hub
            October 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm (5 years ago)

            Ahem, who is always buying the cleaner and actually using it?? This might be why you have all those bruises on your arms from all that pinching.

  3. Jen
    October 19, 2010 at 8:25 am (5 years ago)

    I think that each of us ‘do it’ in our own ways that works for us. You have to choose what you do an don’t do. For example, I make time for my kids, work and blogging but I don’t make time for keeping a clean house. You just have to do what works for you then you really are doing it all.

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 10:23 am (5 years ago)

      I like the way you think. Thanks for the reality check!

      Reply
  4. Stacey
    October 19, 2010 at 10:33 am (5 years ago)

    Of course I do it all! You don’t? How can you not?

    Pahleeze!! No one “does it all” and those who claim to are not only lying to you, they’re lying to themselves as well.

    My son is older now and doesn’t require as much one-on-one time. He can bathe and dress himself and even entertain himself when need be. That makes it easier, but I still have a full time job, a live-in boyfriend, two birds and an apartment that would like to see the vacuum more than once a month.

    My highlights haven’t been done in months. They’re also no longer roots, just hair. The gray is taking over. Quickly. The new healthy lifestyle I’ve been trying to kick start is stalled. There is birdseed and pieces of other various bird treats on the floor surrounding the bird cages. The dining room table looks like a paper explosion went off. I can’t tell you the last time we actually ate dinner at it. The kitchen is an endless cycle of unload and reload the dishwasher. The boyfriend does the laundry so I can’t complain there.

    I quit wearing makeup years ago. I’m lazy and like every extra minute of sleep I can get in the morning. I have no one to impress at work, so I don’t waste that extra 15 minutes putting my face on just so I can see the same people at work day after day. Now, if I’m going out in the evenings with friends or somewhere nice, I’ll take the time to put on makeup. I just don’t feel the need to do it every day for work anymore. Plus it saves a shitload of money because I don’t have to buy it as often.

    There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and in the end you prioritize and do the best you can. That’s all you can do and to all the self proclaimed “super moms” who do it all with perfect homes, perfect hair and perfect makeup? I don’t buy it for a fucking minute!

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 2:10 pm (5 years ago)

      I think to be a super mom you’d have to have an army of hired help. So Angelina can be super mom, because she has six nannies. The rest of us? Not so much.

      Reply
  5. Cecilia
    October 19, 2010 at 10:59 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for writing such an honest post. Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday when I found myself changing out of my pajamas, combing my hair and brushing my teeth for the first time that day at the *end* of the afternoon, right before I had to head out to pick my son up. I am happy if I can do a fraction of what I need to do in any given day. I run a small business from home and so all my daytime hours are devoted to that. When my son gets home, he is my focus. Then the house and me (oh, and my poor hubby) get some tending to maybe 15 minutes here and there. I think that being able to say this to other moms only helps to make everyone feel a little (okay, alot) better about ourselves.

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm (5 years ago)

      I know I feel better after getting this validation! Too bad I still have to go home and fold that dang laundry. Or at least some of it…

      Reply
  6. Rebecca
    October 19, 2010 at 11:37 am (5 years ago)

    I tend to get that when we are dealing with a new medical issue (we get them frequently) with my son. I tell them the truth….I don’t handle it well. I scream and cry and deny and then I consult with Dr Google and I scour through pages of information and when we go to the ‘real’ doctor, we talk about what I’ve learned online and what he knows and we come up with a treatment plan….but all the while I’m falling apart inside.

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm (5 years ago)

      Oh, lady. Sending you big hugs. I can only imagine how difficult that would be. You’re my hero.

      Reply
  7. Allison @ Alli n Son
    October 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm (5 years ago)

    I hate it when people ask me that. Like just because I stay at home means that I have my life in order and a perfect home. I don’t so it all, and I’m ok with that. I stil don’t know how to respond to comments like that.

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm (5 years ago)

      I vote we go with an uncomfortable laugh and change the subject.

      Reply
  8. Lady Jennie
    October 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm (5 years ago)

    There is no way I do it all. In order of priority: clean & fed kids, fed and happy husband, to appointments mostly on time, cooking, laundry and then lots of empty space (blogging?) – the black hole, at the end of which comes cleaning, putting on makeup, exercising …

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 20, 2010 at 10:04 am (5 years ago)

      Oh, the black hole. A lot of things fall in there, don’t they?

      Reply
  9. liz
    October 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm (5 years ago)

    I think it’s OK if housework slides. I’m a big recycler, though I have almost completely fallen off the exercise wagon!

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 20, 2010 at 10:04 am (5 years ago)

      It’s okay to fall off, as long as your pants continue to fit (or so says me).

      Reply
  10. Tiff
    October 20, 2010 at 12:50 am (5 years ago)

    Amber- I can’t keep up either:( Wondering how anyone does, BUT one thing I do that is TOTALLY worth it- pay someone to clean my house. I cut back other places to make it work, and it takes such a load off.
    Miss you!

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 20, 2010 at 10:02 am (5 years ago)

      That’s what I was thinking. I think I’m going to start getting estimates sometime real soon. Coming home to a clean house would be fabulous!

      Reply
  11. Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels
    October 20, 2010 at 7:30 am (5 years ago)

    Oh, please. Nobody does it all. We prioritize the things we care about most and do a half-assed attempt at keeping the rest going 😉 You are most definitely NOT alone!

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 20, 2010 at 10:05 am (5 years ago)

      Smiles. It’s comments like that that make me love blogging…I am a fan of half assed attempts.

      Reply
  12. Erin
    October 20, 2010 at 9:09 am (5 years ago)

    I love love love you – you just became my favorite author ever – you plucked the words from my brain and wrote them down in a much more beautiful way than I have managed to – the ToDo list section – page from my own book – I LOVE YOU!!

    this is EXACTLY how I am feeling today, yesterday, and how I will feel tomorrow.

    Thank you. and please know – just by writing this post – you did in fact make a HUGE difference to me –

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 20, 2010 at 10:06 am (5 years ago)

      *mwah* That comment just made me smile on a morning when even four cups of coffee isn’t helping. So thank YOU!

      Reply
  13. Pollyanna
    October 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm (5 years ago)

    I seriously almost had a panic attack about an hour ago when Hubby asked me to update the Google calendar. I can’t believe how jam packed it is and how overwhelmed I felt at that moment. And that’s just the scheduled stuff! Everything in my house slides – kitchen, laundry, etc. Yah, I don’t like it when people say, “I don’t know how you do it all,” because that’s just it, I don’t do it all . . .

    Reply
  14. BalancingMama (Julie)
    October 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m still talking myself into believing it’s OK if I let things slide. I tend to berate myself for a messy home, scraggly-haired somewhat dirty child, and lack of interest in playtime. Then someone awesome (like you!) reinforces that it is, really and truly, OK. Thanks :)

    Reply
  15. Elona
    October 21, 2010 at 5:20 pm (5 years ago)

    Amen!
    I get the “how do you do it?” question a lot when people find out I’m (trying to) run a business and work full time and then do all the cooking etc.

    My solution, at least for the time being?
    Blueberry juice and coconut vodka (or rum, whatever’s handy).
    Also Wellbutrin helps.

    More often than not I feel like I’m trying to do so many things that they’re all falling apart.

    However, today I managed to pull a stuck contact lens out of a patient’s eye (no, not my job), fix a toilet with a zip tie (home and it works really well) and do three days worth of eyeglass ordering…and I’m teaching pole dance tonight. Can I sleep now?

    The fact that you can do all that you do AND have a kid astounds me.

    Reply
    • Amber
      October 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm (5 years ago)

      Well, I don’t have the business part. I think they probably even out in the end…

      Hugs.

      Reply

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