"So How Do You DO It All?"

  Last month, we grabbed our kids, our dog, our necessities (including but not limited to clothes, diapers, "bankies," debit cards, my violin, our wedding album, and goldfish crackers) and made The Big Move from Fort Benning, GA to Fort Carson, CO. We broke up the trip so that we actually traveled over the course of four days, to maintain our sanity and give my achin' back a break from the driver's seat as much as possible. All things considered, the kids did very well, and we made it to this mountainous state in all its' beauty in one piece. Since then, we have moved into a rental home, mostly unpacked our things, and we're slowly but surely getting used to Will's insane work schedule (and by "insane," I mean he usually leaves for work around 5:30am and if we're lucky, returns by 6:30pm). It's been a big adjustment, and we've had to weather our way through tantrums, multiple beagle escapes from our back yard, a pregnant woman with chronic back pain, and a papa who isn't around as much as he used to be. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love Colorado. I love looking out the window and seeing mountains in the distance, I love all the state parks and attractions that are merely a short drive away, and I love the wonderful opportunities and organizations for families that are absolutely thriving in our community. I am truly very happy, and very thankful to be living here.

  One thing I've been hearing frequently from family and friends is, "how do you do it all?" combined with, "I could never do xyz like you guys," etc. So, brace yourselves, because I have to let you in on a little secret.


  I don't.

  I don't do it all. I have plenty of evenings where I look in our mirror and say to myself, "I have absolutely no idea how I made it through this day alive. Thank you God." Tony and Alessandra are both at the age where they require mental and physical stimulation. I try to balance their needs and wants with MY needs and wants, and believe me, that doesn't always pan out. I want to have a clean and organized house, I want to enjoy this pregnancy without wincing in pain every time I stand up, and I want to do fun, crafty projects and visit fun, educational places with my children every day. I also want to put away a healthy chunk of change in our savings account while squirreling away a decent percentage of our income towards our retirement, all the while replacing things in our home that desperately need to be replaced, and plan for a fun family vacation this summer while Will has block leave. I want to make delicious, healthy meals every night for dinner, while still keeping my children entertained lest they grab a box of crayons and color on the toilet.
Yeah, about that...

  The past few days, my back pain has been so unbearable I didn't even attempt to make dinner. Tony and Alessandra have been feasting upon peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (at least it's natural peanut butter, right??) and scrambled eggs with cheese and toast. 15% of our income going towards retirement? More like 10% right now. I'm actually doing a decent job of sticking to a budget and putting money in our emergency fund, but we keep getting hit with all these random bills ($25 to the neurosurgeon I saw when we first moved here, $200 for the Harmony test I took during week 14 of my pregnancy, $140 gas bill, etc). Alessandra is getting her two-year molars, which means she's cranky, out of sorts, and not sleeping well. Poor little baby just wants to snuggle, read books, and eat things that feel good on her teeth, and while that's perfectly fine with me, my 4-year old (understandably) has zero patience for her discomfort, and just wants to run around at the park all day. Our home isn't dirty, but it's cluttered. Clutter makes me insane. I feel like I'm struggling spiritually. I try to take a few minutes every morning for prayer, but something usually gets in the way. I feel like my back is going to snap in half every time I stand up, and I spend most of our days limping after my children like a 90-year old woman. Gone are the days of experimenting with exotic cheese and Italian deli meats; those meals are no longer in our budget or on my timetable.

  In short, I'm falling short. As much as I appreciate the kind words and encouragement from my family and friends, the simple fact of the matter is that I'm so far from Wife and Mother of the Year it's not even funny. I'm just as guilty as the next mommy blogger of posting our Norman Rockwell pictures on my Instagram ("Look at my kids playing together at the playground in our neighborhood! See the tasty looking meatless meal I made for a Friday during Lent? Here I am with my hair styled and makeup on!"), and I'm really making an effort to knock it off. First and foremost, it isn't honest. I don't mean to imply that every day around here involves a war-torn house with mom on the rampage and Tony and Alessandra running around in rags, but lately, my life is a lot more Lynette Scavo from Desperate Housewives than Bree VandeKamp. Secondly, back in 2010 when I was gradually making the change from "dual employed married couple living overseas" to "gigantically pregnant stay at home wife in a Boston suburb," I made the mistake of devouring mommy blogs. And not just regular blogs written by regular moms; clearly, there's nothing wrong with that. No, I went for the full-on Perfect Mommy Blogger Who Looks Like She Just Stepped Off the Runway in Paris With Her Four Perfect Children in their Designer Twee Clothes Who Thinks Up Super Fun Artsy Projects Every Day and Has a Seemingly Endless Amount of Patience, Energy and Money. You know who I'm talking about (and this isn't even any one blogger in particular). I hadn't even given birth yet, and I already felt like crap about myself. I wanted to be the best mother I could possibly be to my children, but I knew there was no possible way I could measure up to those women. And truth be told...I didn't want to, because I knew that wasn't me. It was still a hard mentality to break from, and it's taken me a loooooooong time to be satisfied with my parenting, housekeeping, wife-ing, you name it.

  Bottom line? Don't be fooled by what you see on the internet. I'm not discouraging reading blogs altogether, because there are a few I've found that I absolutely love, and I draw inspiration, rather than self-criticism from these women. Just know that if you see what looks to be the perfect family with the perfect life on the perfect blog, you only know what they're choosing to show to the world. Their marriage may be on the rocks. They may have a huge, beautiful home and designer clothes, but may be drowning in debt. Their children may be involved in every art project, ballet class and playground get-together that week, but they may be sick to death of being photographed (and dare I say, exploited?) every minute of every day. Don't be fooled by my blog or my Instagram, either. Just because you see my kids hugging it out at the park doesn't mean they weren't at each others' throats an hour earlier. You didn't see the post where I tripped over my own two feet, spilled coffee on the carpet, and taught my daughter a new (swear) word. Just because I post a picture of our healthy Lenten dinner on Facebook doesn't mean that I didn't serve ice cream for lunch.

  I'm making a pledge (ugh that sounds so cheesy, doesn't it?) to be more honest about my life on social media. I can't, in all fairness, rip on other bloggers when I'm guilty of doing the same thing. That doesn't mean that every single aspect of my life has to be shared on this blog, but if I'm going to write about the good times, I damn well better include the bad and the ugly as well. In the meantime, if someone says to me that they don't know how I do it all, I will be graceful and kind, and because I DO know that it's a compliment. But I will also stress to said person that I don't do it all, I reach my limits like everyone else, and if they don't believe me, they are more than welcome to show up at my house at approximately 3pm (known as "post nap"). That should do the trick. 


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