Have you ever just wondered where the past 10 to 20 years of your life have gone? Wondered what you were doing the entire time that left you feeling as though you missed out on something amazing? I do. I am going to share what a normal day – not a week – a normal day in the life is like around here, and then I want to ask you some questions at the end. Maybe you can help me figure out this crazy that is my life.
Who Are You and What Do You Do?
- Mother to a 28-year-old daughter, 17-year-old son, 14-year-old son
- Wife to hubby going on 23 years (give or a take a few months)
- Fur Mom to our Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix, Mollyanna
- I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 14 years
- I am a social media influencer and mom blogger who loves to write
- I live in a 3-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia
Who Lives With You?
- Daughter is married living with her husband on their own
- 17-year-old son is currently in a residential treatment center getting help for some mental health issues
- 14-year-old son is living at home, trying to break into the music business as a producer and artist
- Husband (who is also a semi-work-at-home dad as he works for the apartment community where we reside and is in and out of the house multiple times per day)
What is Your Typical Day Like?
- Up between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. every day
- Check the email messages from the night before
- Take dinner out to defrost
- Fix breakfast
- Plan a quick healthy lunch for hubby and the boys (during school vacations)
- Cook at least two meals per day – sometimes three if nobody wants to eat what I’ve prepared for dinner
- Laundry, family finances and budget, cleaning, running errands, planning meals
- Working from home as a social media influencer and blogger
- Answering the front door and the multitude of interruptions from other residents looking for my husband to fix something in their apartment or to tell my sons’ friends they are or are not here
- Walk the dog
- Respond to pitches received via email
- Prepare responses to emails concerning work, my son’s treatment and medication requirements, coordinate transportation to medical health facilities to ensure he receives treatment for injuries he sustains
- Prepare images to accompany the articles that I publish and schedule social media shares
- Handle all bookkeeping duties such as tracking income and expenses and keeping an eye that budgets are kept for both
- Review a multitude of websites and groups to research campaigns and companies to work with
- Schedule work that needs to be done in the future, deadlines that need to be met, enter all of our appointments for four family members and make written notations of pertinent phone calls, contracts, new vendors, medication changes, etc.
- Two to three hours on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) interacting and networking with others in my profession and my followers
- Dedicated education time to learn ways to earn residual income and better ways to streamline day-to-day activities so I can spend more time with my family and less time behind the computer screen
- Attempt to review the activity in the 79 Facebook groups and 50 Google+ groups that I belong to and bookmark items to read later or respond to and add others to Evernote and OneNote for action later
- Try to find a few moments here and there to play my beloved Bingo games and check in on my Sims Families.
- Usually head off to bed between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
What Types of Issues Do You Deal With Daily or Weekly?
- A husband who is in and out of the house numerous times throughout the day asking if I know where this tool or that tool is, if I’ve seen a particular work order, did I call the bank, did I pay the bills, etc.
- A dog who feels the need to tinkle every hour on the hour
- Dealing with health issues for myself and trying to just “muster through” my own problems so that I can be there for my family and handle them as best I can
- Research Virginia laws and statutes regarding mental health illness and incarceration of teenagers as well as review treatment centers to ensure that they are staffed properly and capable of handling multiple mental health disorders and diagnoses from ages 10 to 18
- Attempt to help my 17-year-old son deal with his mental health issues and find ways for him to manage them so he can return home and be able to identify his triggers and have a plan in place to deal with them
- Assist my 14-year-old son with managing his music career and helping him to develop outlets for his work that he has produced and the tracks he has written and teach him how to use the power of social media to get noticed
- Schedule doctor appointments and mental health appointments for the family with several specialists, psychiatrists, therapists and counselors
- Twice a week we spend 5 hours on the road traveling to and from the treatment center where our son is – over 120+ miles round trip – plus attempt to be able to have dinner with our son as a family to give him some small semblance of normal each week that he is accustomed to.
- Beginning later this week – he will be moving to a treatment center farther from home so we will be on the road at least 4 to 5 hours for travel time one day a week – and the additional distance from home also means higher gas expenses and wear and tear to our one vehicle
- Community service on weekends to volunteer and give back to our community
- Picking up and dropping off children and friends who need a ride
- Constantly reviewing when the bills are due and when my husband gets paid to make payment arrangements or plan to pay bills at another time or a portion now or a portion later
My Own Observations and Thoughts
I feel as though I hit the ground running every morning and just keep on going – like the Energizer Bunny – until I collapse from exhaustion or make myself go to bed and try to sleep. I usually average between 4-6 hours of sleep a night and then I’m back up and at it again.
As I was writing all of this out I noticed that there is never any time just for me. The few minutes I get to play a game of bingo are usually when I’m out walking the dog. I don’t get to do anything fun and interesting that I would love to do – unless my daughter comes and drags me away from the house.
Is it me? Am I just wired incorrectly so that I am incapable of finding a happy balance between work and play? Family and work? Why do I feel that I am the one who has to deal with all of the fires and emergencies that crop up on a seemingly daily basis? That I feel as though, I don’t know – have to be in control maybe?
There are never enough hours in the day to do everything. Do you ever feel that way? Is your life on the same level of chaos as mine is?
I do everything I can to stay organized. I have list on top of list on top of list to keep me organized. I have everything in my Daytimer as well as in my computer calendar. Since I’m always in front of the computer – I keep all of my phone conversations, appointments, ideas, diary entries, everything – right there in my calendar so it’s at my fingertips. I have the magazine deadlines calendared so that I can try to have my articles and posts planned for publication the same time that they will be sending out their magazines.
I have brief moments of clarity and zen where everything is running like clockwork and I think to myself, “Holy shit, I’m really on my game … and then BAM!” Life throws a curve ball and knocks me on my ass. All my organization and careful planning to make all the pieces work together and run smoothly goes flying out the window and I feel as though I’ve been kicked back 20 steps instead of moving forward.
Be honest. Have any of you ever dealt with this level of chaos on a daily/weekly basis for months, years on end? Do you feel like every time you start to move ahead you get knocked back again? Have you been there and found a way to change it all?
I have been doing some serious soul-searching the past week (but that is a post for another day) and I look back over the last decade or two and I wonder, what the hell happened? What have I done with my life? Where did the years go? What do I have to show for it?
When I was 18 years old and racing across the stage to grab my high school diploma and put Pennsylvania and my teenage years in my rear view mirror, I imagined my life at 50 to be so very different. A home of my own, a family that loved camping and traveling and sightseeing as much as I do. We would spend weekends just traveling where ever the wind took us, and we would eat out two or three times a week just because we liked to try different food and because we could.
I imagined my life, at this stage anyway, to be absolutely perfect. I was going to be full of life, living every day to the fullest, and able to do anything I wanted, go anywhere I wanted. I didn’t imagine being stuck in a cramped 3-bedroom apartment, counting pennies between pay periods, worried that I would not be able to take care of my children’s basic needs. I didn’t imagine that I would be dealing with constant aches and pains that invade at a moment’s notice. I did not imagine a fraction of the emotional heartache and turmoil that a child can inflict when there is nothing you can do to help them but let them go on their own and either sink or swim.
Sometimes I think it is because I was never selfish enough. I’ve been accused of being selfish in my life (which is utter nonsense to anyone who knows me) but I have always denied what I wanted so that I could do for others – my children, my husband, my family. “My day will come,” I kept telling myself … and I think I was so busy doing for everyone else that I allowed my moment of happiness in the sun to disappear.
I envy my daughter so much at times that it hurts.
I see how successful she’s become in her profession. I see how much she is loved by her husband. I see the beautiful home that she has, I see her ability to go out shopping and buy anything she wants, and I envy her. She is living the life that I want. She has overcome so much – I was not the best mother and I made horrible choices that affected her deeply, choices that impacted her life in ways I never imagined. She told me about all of it in her early 20s, and I wept with sorry at how deeply I had hurt her. My horrible choices made her life miserable, when all I was trying to do was make her life better.
It is something that haunts me every day, and it is the driving force behind what I do with my two sons. I don’t want to make the same mistakes with them. But I look back over the past two decades and I wonder – am I just repeating the same cycle? I’ve still made bad choices, but I’m older and wiser and able to see them for what they are worth. Even so, I still find myself making excuses, trying to smooth things over, sweep them under the rug, and keep everyone appearing happy on the outside – when inside we’re all falling apart.
I don’t want my epitaph to read that I was too busy to stop and smell the flowers. I don’t want to be remembered for the work that I’ve done, but for the legacy that I leave behind. I want people to remember me as someone who has “lived like they were dying” and celebrated each and every day.
The only problem is – where do I begin?