Last Updated on June 5, 2018
Ah, summer. The kids have lots of play dates, the days are long and beautiful, vacations are on the calendar … and every mom with any kind of a job is trying not to run around like her pants are on fire. I’m sure every such mom can see herself in the hysterical email I got today from my fabulous assistant, Cathy.
Backstory: Back in the day, Cathy was a high-powered corporate saleswoman and more recently has been a high-powered stay-at-home mom. She started her part-time job with me (working from home) as soon as her youngest son, Josh, started kindergarten and her older son, Jake, started fifth grade. She has proven to be amazing, efficient, and ultra-willing to tackle anything, and I love the fact that when I give her a task, her favorite phrase is “I’m on it.”
But she has found that her first summer as a working mother—trying to fit in work around the summer realities of swim team and football practice—has been “interesting.” And then she unexpectedly had the additional “interest” of her husband, Randy, busting his Achilles tendon, complete with surgery, a cast, and an order from the doctor not to walk for weeks, which means that suddenly, he is unwillingly but utterly dependent on her. Her ultra-involved husband suddenly can’t do anything for himself—or help her.
Today, Cathy was going to come over to my house to cut paychecks for the team and do a few other urgent tasks that have been piling up with all that was going on. Enter today’s email. And enter a great example to me of a woman keeping her cool, humor, and perspective—three things that every working mother must have as essential pieces of operating equipment! Enjoy.
Oh my gosh! I’ll say OMG to use cool texting lingo … OMG! I feel like I start 100 tasks and never finish them. …
I woke up this morning, determined to meet today and any of the little challenges it brought with a happy heart, a smile, and a good attitude. I would be calm and patient and loving. I would be … Supermom. Superwife. And I would do it all with joy in my heart, darn it. And yet—as is often the case—my plans somehow didn’t mesh with reality.
Sooooo … had a list of “must-do” things for you today … hmmm … although I started a bunch of those things, not sure how many of them actually progressed to the status of “checked-off.” Don’t worry … this is mostly regarding home stuff rather than work, and yet …
The plan was to get to your house today. To be gone for only 40 minutes or so. But as I started out the door to head to your house—before I go—start to get Randy set up with all he’ll need, and the phone rings … it’s someone offering to take Josh for a play date, which would be great. Then Randy would only have Jake to deal with while I’m at your place. While talking to the friend, I realize the boys have no clean clothes for basketball tonight. So with them on the phone I rush to start laundry.
Get halfway through loading the washer and one of kids screams—hang up on friend with a quick “thanks see you soon” and run downstairs to see that they’ve spilled orange Gatorade all over my carpet. I start to clean it, and Randy yells for help.
I rush back down to him and remember he’s been waiting all this time for me to bring him his laptop, etc., so he can get started on an urgent work deadline. So I run back up to get that as he yells to bring his meds and a new ice pack, too. I get the meds and ice pack and run it down to him but, “Don’t forget my laptop,” he says. …
I’m headed for the laptop when I see that I never got the orange Gatorade cleaned up … so start on that again and suddenly remember the laundry never got started. I run upstairs to do that so they’ll be clean in time for tonight—but then while I’m up there I realize that Josh’s ride will be here in 30 minutes. But he isn’t dressed, and he needs a lunch made for him. …
So I lay out his clothes, yelling down for him to hurry up and get dressed. While I’m laying out the clothes, I see the bloody socks that Jake had on last night and remember that I never cleaned up his busted toes this morning. So I run down with the Bactine and start on that—and see the Gatorade on the carpet.
I yell to Jake to clean it himself and rush to the kitchen to make Josh a lunch. I get halfway thru that when Randy plaintively calls, “For the love of Pete … I just need my laptop so I don’t miss this deadline!” Oh, shoot. Laptop. Run that down to him. He’s annoyed. Which annoys me. Seriously?!
I stomp back up and see that Josh is, of course, not dressed. So I holler at him! I asked you to get dressed! What part of that did you not understand?! The friend now arrives at front door and has to wait while I run frantically upstairs to dress Josh.
He leaves, and I’m chasing the car down the drive cuz I realize he left without the lunch I worked so hard to make. Standing in the driveway out of breath and ready to kill someone, I look up and realize that no one ever turned the sprinklers off last night. Been on all night. I realize this because I thought I could walk back up thru my front grass. So now my socks are soaked and stained. I take them off and start to bring them up to the laundry when Jake yells, “I’m hungry!” Oh my @$^%! You’ve got to be kidding me! So I yell back, “How old are you anyways?! Get off your booty and figure it out!”
But now Randy has heard Jake yell for food and realizes that I never brought him any food to go with his meds. “I could use some lunch, too.” This brings me back to OMG. OMG! So … I inhale deeply and force a sweet smile on my face. Sure, dear.” But I sense that I might have put a bit too much emphasis on the “dear,” and he is now noticing I’m a bit miffed.
“Cath … you ok?” Exhale. Slowly. “Oh. Sure. No worries. It’s all good.” Inhale. Make lunch. Bring it down to him. He astutely notices, “You seem a bit frazzled today. You sure everything’s okay?”
Inhale. Smile. “Frazzled? Me? Nah. It’s all good.”
His reply: “I thought you were headed to Shaunti’s.” Aaaugh. That’s right. I was. Breathe.
I head up to grab my briefcase, and as I do, I hear a loud bump and then an “aghh.”
I run into Randy’s office, and he’s grimacing in pain. He’s hit his foot on the table. Frustration is replaced with empathy then concern because as I look at his foot, I notice that it is bruising almost as I’m looking at it. Well … you can only see the toes, but they are blue and a bruise has now formed just above the binding. I run up and call the doc. They will call back as soon as they can. So we have to wait.
While waiting … Jake has miraculously decided that he’ll finally clean out that nasty cooler that we asked him to do a week ago. He’s feeling guilty apparently. Or maybe worried, as he sees me running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Anyhow. In doing this, apparently somehow he cuts his hand … no clue how—I mean really, no clue—but there it is. It’s bleeding pretty good. OMG! Just really seems like the only thing to say right now.
So I help him get that cleaned up. We bandage it and I realize: I still haven’t made it to your house. Again … augh …
I head back to check on Randy. Still waiting to hear from nurse. Pain subsided, but bruising has increased. Why didn’t I go to nursing school? As I wait for the doc’s call, I sit down to type you this email and ask if you’ll mind if I postpone ‘til tomorrow. And instead of a quick little email … I slow down … exhale … let the Gatorade carpet, the unfinished laundry, the half-cleaned stinky cooler, the bleeding child, the injured hubby… all of it … I just let it all go for a minute. Ahhh. I breathe again. So I sit down to write you a quick little email. Just a quick email to fill you in, and what do you get instead? Oh, just a little chatty Cathy pouring everything out instead!
All that to say …
Don’t think I’ll make it by today.
Shaunti Feldhahn is a best selling author and nationally renowned speaker, best known for her break out book For Women Only that led to a series of other related titles. She has been featured on The Today Show, Fox News, K-Love radio and many other media outlets. Shaunti is the mother of two school age children she places as a priority while remaining a professional woman who seeks to equip others to find balance in their lives. Her much needed Life Ready Woman series was developed to help women understand their role in today’s “do-it-all” world. Shaunti has been a mom for 13 years, she and Jeff have been married for 18 years.