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This is How I Do it All

I was asked recently “how I do it.”  How I write here so frequently, read other blogs so frequently, raise the twins, work pretty much full time, cook meals, volunteer a few hours a week, and bonk my husband, all while wearing a frilly white lap apron and gaily whistling.  Come closer and I’ll tell you how.

I don’t.

I mean, yes, I do write here an awful lot and I do read a lot of other blogs, but I don’t watch television or read as much as I’d like to in exchange.  I raise the twins and parenting them is the one thing I don’t phone in.  I work pretty much full time hours shoved into part time hours, which doesn’t look pretty.  I am usually pretty stretched thin because of that, and sometimes I don’t get to sleep until very late if I’m working up against a deadline.  And by “very late,” I mean after midnight.  I do cook a lot, but I also serve a smorgasbord of Morningstar Farms products every time the twins get a large chunk of homework, which is pretty much three times a week.  I volunteer, and somehow that never seems to fall through the cracks; and I bonk my husband, though I don’t wear a frilly white apron and I am more commonly muttering obscenities under my breath than whistling.

I think we all peek at each other’s lives via blogs or social media accounts and think we know how life must look beyond the computer screen.  Or we even meet each other in the face-to-face world and spend time with one another and think the other person has their shit together.  I may look like I have my shit together on the computer screen or if you meet me face-to-face.  But I don’t have my shit together.  I am often feeling overwhelmed, pulled in too many directions, and missing out on stuff.  I am constantly worried about time.  I sometimes eat Tums for breakfast.  And there are also days when my to-do lists are all humming, and I feel like I have a hold on things.  But most of the time, I don’t.  Even if it appears like I do.

Life in this house isn’t a smooth Disney boat-ride a la It’s a Small World with colourful singing dolls all in their places.

It’s more like an IKEA product, cobbled together with a lot of cursing and missing parts and holding your breath while you say a prayer that the desk isn’t going to collapse the second you set the computer monitor atop it.  And yes, it looks pretty from far away, but you can tell that it’s laminate up close.  And I don’t mind that.  I like IKEA.  I like this messy, cobbled-together life.


1 Jendeis { 10.16.11 at 8:36 am }

Mel, you’re my hero. 🙂

2 vablondie { 10.16.11 at 8:53 am }

I truly think that this is the true secret of motherhood. Everyone is just holding on by a thread.

3 It Is What It Is { 10.16.11 at 10:36 am }

Yeah, I agree that life is often messy if you take your fingernail and scratch off the veneer. That said, making it LOOK effortless is an art that and you are quite the artist.

I was thinking this very thing about another blogger I follow. She is raising two young children, one with special needs and her blog has a ginormous following. She blogs almost daily, each entry carefully crafted, inclusive of sometimes dozens of pictures, each with a clever caption. All this before she unveils a new sponsor, replete with photos of either her wearing or using the product or one of her kids wearing or using it. Furthermore, she is always either on an outing or doing a craft (or several) or celebrating the joy of life and motherhood in some way in each and every post.

It always makes me feel like I could be doing more with or for my son as I wonder how she does it all. I am pretty grounded and attuned but it isn’t lost on me how reading her blog sometimes makes me feel bad about my self — my effort (and sometimes lack thereof) at being at mother.

4 Paz { 10.16.11 at 11:26 am }

Well, you still get a lot done and we’re all trying to figure out how we can get more into our days, so you inspire, even if it is isn’t pretty at times. I think you’ve exposed what we all really know, no one can do it all. No one.

5 slowmamma { 10.16.11 at 1:13 pm }

This is a wonderful post. I’ve always known that everyone has the same hours in their days and that physical limits are physical limits but that doesn’t change the fact that some people really do have more energy and more enthusiasm and more generosity than others. Still human, but a bit more human. I get the feeling you are in that category.

6 Jennifer { 10.16.11 at 2:31 pm }

Thank you! I love reading this, especially the muttering under the breath. I don’t have kids and still feel I can’t do everything I need to. I am still thoroughly impressed by what you do even if you don’t wear a frilly apron while doing it. 🙂

7 Natalie { 10.16.11 at 5:09 pm }

I’ve really been struggling with this internally, this feeling like I should be getting more done. But I’m sick, my toddler wants my attention 110% of the time, my husband works to support us, and the housework just never seems to end. My house is kind of messy. And sometimes I feel like I’m such a failure.

8 HereWeGoAJen { 10.16.11 at 6:31 pm }

I don’t think there is anyone who really always has it all together. I know I don’t.

9 Rachel { 10.16.11 at 7:20 pm }

Wait…you still work? I mean, outside of being a mom and a blogger and a writer and a wife? I wish you could see my face. In. AWE.

10 Jamie { 10.16.11 at 8:39 pm }

Exactly. I so understand!

11 tbonegrl { 10.16.11 at 9:43 pm }

Good to know. I really don’t know anyone who “does it” all!

12 Justine { 10.16.11 at 11:02 pm }

I like IKEA, too. But I still think you’re awesome. Partly because you can do everything you do AND you can admit to imperfection. 🙂

13 {sue} { 10.17.11 at 9:02 am }

Thank you, from the top of the ginormous pile of unfolded laundry right next to me! It’s sad to admit how much time I spend (waste) comparing what I get done (and mostly, don’t get done) to other people. People who have more kids, whose yards are landscaped and decorated for fall, whose kids don’t show up for school in wrinkled clothes and with shaggy hair, who produce amazing, creative things, or cook dinner from scratch every night. It’s good to remember that everyone struggles and prioritizes. (But I still think you are completely awesome!)

14 Mina { 10.17.11 at 10:35 am }

I never do it all. And when I inevitably compare myself with others, I feel like an idiot, who cannot get organized or follow up on anything.
You, on the other hand, you do an awful lot! I try to take your example and do more. I am still at the trying stage.
As for IKEA comparison, I think what matters most is the idea behind the product. Not the material, not the fancyness, but the idea that solves a basic need with simplicity and at a decent price. For the moment I am an IKEA high chair, all work neede was to screw on the legs (which some mornings are definitely in the other’s place). As I said, I try to take your example and be a desk, but not right now, I can’t have any other parts put in the wrong way, and I can do without screws for the moment.
BTW, have you noticed how most of the times one reads the instructions after one already messed up a fairly simple assembly job? Amazing, isn’t it?

15 Eve { 10.17.11 at 12:39 pm }

Thanks as always for being so refreshingly transparent. I had a really hard time with the ‘supermom’ expectation for myself with my son…I’m sure a lot of it had to do with my infertility and feeling like, I finally have this awesome gift, now I don’t dare complain or suck at it. Anyway, I remember so vividly asking one of my online peer ‘supermoms’ for advice on keeping a clean house whilst working, mothering, etc. She gave me advice that I mantra to myself daily: lower your standards. Now with two kids, a professional career, and getting back into blogging again…I’m very much living in the ‘lower standards’ of reality: usually picked-up house but moleculary dirty, unfinished projects, messy drawers, imperfect blog posts, a LOT of spaghetti, and yes…dare I say…moments of mothering that I don’t wish to go on my “Mommy” report card. I aim to learn from my mistakes and always tell my kids how much they are cherished.

16 amy { 10.17.11 at 1:39 pm }

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! This was something that I desperately needed reminded of! Just last night as we laid in bed, I was telling Mark how I felt like I was failing. That I was ashamed that I couldn’t do 17 college credits, infertility treatments, homemaking, holidays and in laws all at the same time. Thank you for reminding me that we all have our own struggles.

17 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.17.11 at 4:11 pm }

What strikes me most about this post, besides your brilliant IKEA analogy, is that “parenting them is the one thing I don’t phone in.”

What kind of obscenities?


18 aimee @ smilingmama { 10.17.11 at 4:25 pm }

Love this! Whenever friends or others ask or say, “I just don’t know how you do it all!” I just tell them that I don’t dust and my bathroom is filthy 🙂

19 a { 10.17.11 at 5:18 pm }

When I phone in parenting, I like to call it “encouraging independence.” 🙂 Or letting my husband have a turn…

I don’t have to do it all, because, for the moment, I have a stay at home dad to take care of the things I don’t want to do. Sometimes, I do dishes. Sometimes I do laundry. I do most of the cooking, but that is not usually a complex endeavor unless I feel like it. I work full-time. When I don’t have the house husband, lots of things slide.

Regardless, I don’t do half as much as you!

20 Bea { 10.18.11 at 9:37 am }

You know this still doesn’t add up, right?


21 Esperanza { 10.20.11 at 9:17 am }

This post inspired me to write my own How I Do It All post (in which I mention your post). Just thought I’d share the link: http://esperanzasays.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/how-i-kinda-sorta-barely-do-it-all/

22 Kir { 10.22.11 at 6:38 am }

I read this days ago….and cried. You know why.xo In my world, you truly DO have your shit together. You might feel like you don’t , but here I am still amazed at how much SHIT you get done ;). For 6 years you’ve been a constant glowing star in my sky. You still are…but it does help to know you worry about the same things we all do and that there is never enough time…wishing I could sit somewhere quiet and chat about that with u.

I love u for writing this…..thank u. (wiping the tears…I never really wanted a frilly apron anyway! 😉

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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