For this author, creative endeavors have been sorely tested by motherhood. But also transformed, and in ways she wouldn’t have imagined – couldn’t have, without her life “rewritten” as it has been, by her children. So linger here, to read all things weaverly, writerly and motherly.


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Sunday, April 8, 2012

H is for the Harried Mom's Mantra: "Not this Minute"

I wish I was a harmonious.

I am not.

I'm harried. Hurrying: "You're always rushing around so," my 93-year-old mother complains, on my weekly visits out to her house.

The complaint is exercised as I am racing back and forth through her bedroom, from the kitchen where I'm doing dishes or taking out the garbage, to the laundry room to clean out kitty litter pans. And then I might be up on a ladder changing the fire alarm battery that won't stop beeping, or sneakily, guiltily, tossing out charitable solicitations piling up on tables.

And I can imagine what I look like to her – my hair askew, whipped out of shape by my whipping around – as she sits on the edge of her bed, going through her latest mail; more charitable solicitations, as she will give a few bucks here or there to every poster half-drowned kitty cat. "Would the boys like these?" She says, holding up animal stamps which she is thanked with by the hundreds. Cheap pens. Giant calculators meant for the near-blind.

"You need to slow down," she'll say, and I want to snap: "I have kids to pick up. After I drive the hour home. I have to rush. I have to hurry."

If it's not my mother reminding me that I'm unharmonious, harried, and hurried, it's my children. Usually at dinner time when I'm apt to burn things like rice: "Mom, I have a new trick to show you." My seven year old will lay out pompom balls on the kitchen counter to make them disappear beneath plastic cups. Or he'll make a nickel disappear. He likes to make things disappear.

"That's so magical, incredible," I effuse, to make up for the incredible fact that I'm not really watching. Which he realizes, anyhow, and doesn't care; he could practice just as well in front of the gerbils or my dried-up potted geraniums.

It's my other older son who isn't quite so adaptable to my hurrying-harried ways: "Mom, I need a band-aide."

He held out his pinky finger. He'd sought me out down in the basement putting a load of laundry into the dryer.

"Not this minute," I said, sniffing the laundry for mold; I'd forgotten it for a couple of days.

"It hurts," he whined. "I can't do anything. I can't even practice my guitar."

Now I'm feeling truly harassed; usually I'm the one harassing him, to practice that damn guitar that cost close to what this wifi-only mere 16GB iPad did.

But there are those who don't hurry, aren't harried nor so easily feel harassed. They do not tailgate those slow drivers in the fast lane; do not snap at the gas-station cashier to wake up. These are the harmonious, even happily humming moms, who, meandering up and down Stop & Shop aisles, are able to carry on a perfectly thoughtful phone conversation-recount of some chance run-in with a mutual old friend from high school, while comparing the sodium content on soup cans. They can grocery shop as you should shop at garden centers, contemplating all the beautiful variations of petunias.

And if they might complain about all they have to do, it's in a long relaxed yoga-like exhalation, while loading grocery bags ever-so-carefully into the back of their minivans (we wouldn't want to break any eggs). "Oh, where, oh where, has all the time gone? " they might sing, and I can imagine them lulling their children to sleep. I can imagine their children having their full attention during magic tricks. As for band-aides, I'm sure there is an emergency pack in the glove compartment, in a kitchen cabinet, and most certainly one next to the detergent on the laundry shelf.

So here's cheers to the harmonious. They probably have lower blood pressure, manage to fit into their hectic lives those recommended eight daily glasses of water. They get things done, even though rushing for them is unrushed as barefoot beach meanderings.

But what if I could become harmonious? What if it is all in my head, that I can't get it all done without feeling harried and hurried?

So I tried it. I started by breathing a bit more often. I tried to be in the moment while sniffing molding laundry or emptying my mother's the kitty litter pan.

And when my seven year old came in while I was cooking dinner to show me a new magic trick, I tried taking that moment to really watch. Magic! He slid his finger off and back on again. Wait, there was another one! He was learning to juggle, though only with two balls.

And guess what; I burned the rice again. The fire alarms went off.

So next time I will say what I usually do: "Just a minute."

And as much as us harried folk may hurry, perhaps we wind up having a bit more fun, as it takes more than a bottle of water for us to wind down. Maybe even a martini and a blast from our youthful past – dancing in the kitchen while dinner burns, to some iTunes download, so we can bop to we drop. Finally. In harmony.





Joyce Lansky said...

It seems like more and more people are living this harried life rather than a harmonious one. I think it's a statement of the world we now live in.

Catch My Words

Lynn Proctor said...

it is so hard to slow down sometimes isn't it--you being aware, will help you more and more---great lessons for us all- thanks for the thoughtful post!

danneromero said...

Whew! II felt your harried ness, and then the calmness (of others). Very nice.

Amy Morgan said...

Harried, multi tasking, hurry, hurry, hurry. I have worked hard to break out of those habits adn have had some success. I have lists upon lists still. However I know that I won't get everything done and I try to recognize now what I got out of slowing down, being in the moment and being more with the people in my life than with the "things/tasks" in my life. It's nice to read your ending about your time of harmony though! See, it is possible! :)

Paula Martin said...

I remember those harried days when my kids were small. Now I only have myself to blame if I feel harried because it's usually because I've procrastinated and then have to rush to catch up!

Perle said...

Martini's definitely make me more harmonious - like the post. The Dragons post was fun too, I could relate as I still have mine.

KatieO said...

I can completely relate to this post, and being a harried and hurried mom! Too much to be done all the time - and never enough time.

Glad to have found you through AtoZ!

Shay said...

OK, I have to say, it is good to take a deep breath. Just don't do it when you are changing the kitty litter pan or sniffing moldy laundry:)

I'm always harried too. I think if I wasn't, I'd have a panic attack.

Pat Hatt said...

I am harried when I have things to do but then I get them done and I'm back to being harmonious at my zoo.

November Rain - k~ said...

Perhaps, you are comfortable in organized chaos :-)

Anna Smith said...

I always manage to burn things even when I'm not in a hurry! :)

Rachel said...

Oh, how I can relate to this...I don't even want to think what will happen when I have children. I know a few of those harmonious new mothers and wonder, "How?!" all the time.

Adding your site to my blogroll.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, I can so relate to your post. I don't know if you know, but I have six children. Often, they're talking to me at the same time, wanting to tell or show me something. I try very hard to stop and make eye contact. It can actually be quite comical at times how harried and hurried I am...My mom thinks I'm a living and breathing tornado. Nice wouldn't believe how many times I burned the rice! lol

Rita said...

I remember those days. Was totally, totally freaked out when my body took over and changed my life. Now I may be in pain and tired all the time but, I'll be danged, I can smell those roses. ;)

Great post!! Hey! You could use a rice steamer. It may get dry and cold from sitting, but it won't burn. LOL! ;)

The Writing Goddess said...

One could make a full time job simply out of reading one's junk mail.

There are times when breathing deeply and being in the moment are called for, but as for me, I want to get that litterbox changed out ASAP. :-)

Jo said...

I am on the harmonious is better band wagon.
Live your life a bit more slowly and you will reap the rewards. How? plan and commit to less each day. Seriously, say, "Nope, can't do that." Plan your days around your errands and don't over plan. If it's going to be too much to clean the whole place for Mom today, then go tomorrow instead and go earlier in the day so you will have time.
It can be done with proper planning and self discipline. Household chores are usually not urgent, other than laundry, meals and washing dishes...dusting, vacuuming and straightening up can wait until you have time.
I hope you try it. It's so much better to be present and be where you are with all that you are. Slow your pace and lengthen your life.

Nerthus said...

I have discovered harmonious in my middle age. (I am NOT old! 50s is not old!) Let the dust settle and do for yourself -- the dust will still be there and it will be easier to spot when I finally get around to it!

Texas Playwright Chick said...

Excellent post - ah,the life of a mom!

I sit somewhere between Harried and Harmonious, often negotiating with my kid on when I will look at what he's trying to show me.

'Just a minute...give me five minutes, then I'm all about what you want to show me.' Then, I'm very careful to honor that. It seems to work for us.

Cheers to your wonderful post!

Texas Playwright Chick

Kathy said...

Sounds like the typical life of a mom to me. Not sure when it ever slows down, but I am ready.


Heather Murphy said...

I am always in a hurry too. It drives people crazy around me but I always seem to have SO MUCH to do! Society as a whole seems to be spinning way to fast lately.

Cheryl said...

I laughed about sniffing the laundry for mold. I do that too sometimes. It's hard. I have a baby and a ten year old. I am trying to consciously listen when my 10-year-old talks to me. I know these days will be gone soon, but it's so hard when we're trying to do 10 things at once. Good luck!

J.L. Campbell said...

I feel like I'm always in a hurry too. Always on the move for one thing or another, but I also realize that things do get done.

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually hurried or harried. Of course, my kids are all grown, married, and living in their own houses. That helps. ;O)

Sylvia Ney said...

Best of luck slowing down and finding some "pamper myself" time! :-)

New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


Jenn said...

There are days I feel harried and hurried and there are days I just take it easy. I'm getting (finally) to the point of learning how to breathe. I mean, seriously, if I'm going to burn that darned rice anyway--might as well do it with oxygen in my lungs!!


Cheers, Jenn

Shannon Lawrence said...

Oh, I loved this! Your wrap up is delightful. I'm afraid I'm often one of those harried moms. I have my relaxed days, but certainly not during the school year. There's always so much that needs to be done. Rush, rush, rush.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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