It’s A Season

I used to be able to make a gourmet dinner every night. I would spend a couple of hours every afternoon, mindlessly chopping veggies, dredging my carefully pounded chicken in layers of flour and egg and breadcrumb before lovingly browning it on both sides and placing it in the oven while I concocted some sort of rich and delectable sauce made of cream and wine and lemon juice and capers.

I used to be able to hang out at the mall for hours, meandering through my favorite stores, trying on clothes just for the fun of it, chatting it up with the sales people and generally killing time till I would need to pick up my kids from school.

I used to entertain constantly. My house was like a revolving door for play groups and church functions and game nights.

I used to document every minute of my kids’ lives in scrapbooks. I would have parties and my friends would come over and we would scrapbook together.

I used to have hours to lounge on my deck, leisurely watching the kids playing in the yard, chatting with neighbors and friends. We would enjoy homemade coffee cakes and brunchy treats, and we would only have to get up if the phone rang or a child needed attention.

Sometimes those days seemed long. There were sleepless nights and dirty diapers and fussy toddlers and defiant preschoolers to contend with. There were the cold, gray winter days when I stood outside on the sidewalk, watching my kids ride their bikes, making sure no one found their way to the street. I thought I was going to die of boredom or hypothermia or both.

But those were good days.

I remember actually  saying I needed a project to keep me busy. That was the year I single-handedly assembled and published a church cookbook. Now THAT was a project!!!

Today? A project??


These days I have so many projects that I can’t see straight. I have kids to be carted to and from music lessons, sports practices and band rehearsals. I have a digital brand I am trying to build and freelance writing assignments to complete and social media clients to tend to and telephone appointments to keep and emails that multiply like rabbits. The laundry never stops and the sink is always full of dishes and the pantry is always empty and I just yearn for one. more. hour. in the day!!

It’s not better or worse — just different.

On the one hand, I thrive on the busy. But on the other hand, sometimes enough is enough.

One night last week, enough was ENOUGH.

I made one of our favorite meals — Shaved Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Creme, thank you Jules.

That day I’d already put in about 5 hours of computer work, 2 business calls and a 2.5-mile run. I’d met with school teachers regarding the needs of a particular child, greeted the girls off the elementary school bus, picked my son up at school after band practice, and washed and folded several loads of laundry. I was making this dinner at the request of my son and also because it’s a family favorite and it sounded really good to me too!

What I hadn’t taken into account was that the kitchen was still a wreck from breakfast and the counters were piled with school paperwork and various and sundry odds and ends for which I could not seem to find a home. And also, this meal? It dirties up approximately 112 dishes and takes at least 2 hours to prepare from start to finish.

OH AND ALSO TOO. At the last minute, I decided to use this opportunity to try a new recipe for broccolini — which required being blanched, shocked and then sautéed at the very last minute.

Add up those pots and pans, will ya??

My husband, bless his heart, willingly pitched in when he got home from work and helped clean up the kitchen as I wrapped up dinner prep (and basically filled the dishpan as fast as he could empty it.)

He even got the kids to picking up the house and setting the table, but that project was not without its typical bickering and drama.

When it was time to put everything on the table, I suddenly lost it.

I just hit a wall.

I was so tired. Of the emotions that come along with raising kids and the mental exhaustion of working in social media and the physical exhaustion of the housework and the dinner prep and the responsibilities of the groceries and the meal planning and having the right shirt clean for the right sports event. Sick. Of. All. Of It.

Later on, when I was able to step back and think logically, I realized that I am placing the same expectations on myself that I always have, but I’ve added a myriad of other responsibilities and commitments to my plate.

NO ONE cooks like that on a weeknight!!!!! What was I thinking?????”

I don’t want to give up the work that I’m doing online. I love it. It is fulfilling and it does serve our family in a myriad of ways. But something has to give. And perhaps that something is the homemaking that I’ve always taken such pride in. Or maybe it’s not really pride. I think I actually used to enjoy spending two hours in the kitchen every night laboring over dinner. Was I really that nuts???

Right now I simply don’t have that luxury. And frankly, it’s not fun anymore.

This is a season. This season does not allow me to spend hours on scrapbooks or leisurely perusing the latest fashions or making gourmet dinners every night of the week.

But this season DOES allow me to pursue a rewarding career and to enjoy the gifts and talents of each of my growing children. This season does allow me to get a full night’s sleep {almost} every night and escape several mornings a week for an energizing run.

I had a conversation on Twitter last weekend with a friend who was bemoaning the fact that she can’t find time to exercise right now while her kids are very little. I wrote back and assured her that I couldn’t manage to make time for exercise when my kids were little either.

Now? I am in a different season. Exercise is a non-negotiable right now. It keeps my moods on a somewhat even keel and helps me deal with the stresses of daily life.

However, gourmet dinners every night? Those are negotiable.

Everyone is in a season of life, and everyone has to make choices based on their availability and interests and responsibilities at any given time.

I used to make time for gourmet dinners every night, and now I need to find a way to simplify mealtimes because other priorities have taken over. That’s not to say that I’m willing to sacrifice wholesome family meals, but they certainly don’t need to be fancy.

I’m writing this post today for every mom out there who needs to give herself a break and recite these four words, it is a season. Maybe you need to look at your life and simplify something somewhere. Or maybe you don’t and I’m the only one having this epiphany this afternoon, but I have a feeling I am not alone.

Life evolves and things change, and you might not find time for certain things now that you used to enjoy. Maybe it’s time to let go of some things. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your commitments and make new priorities and put some things on the back burner. Give yourself a free pass on that one task that you used to enjoy and now is causing undue stress and drama in your life.

I know that I will make gourmet meals again. I will entertain again. I will get to go to the mall again. I may never scrapbook again, but I’m pretty sure I won’t miss that!!

For now, I need to spend my time doing the things that I truly enjoy and that benefit our family. Everything else is icing on the cake.

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31 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for that . Just had the worst restart to term I’ve ever had. Too much on and too many spinning plates. If I don’t cope, then neither do my kids. Will be simplifying things too! X

  2. You are SO wise to realize that this is a passing period of life, one which (in a very few years) you’ll look back with wonder and nostalgia. I try to ask myself, during the various periods of life, this question: what are the things that are best done during THIS time of my life, and can’t be done at any other time as well? Those are the things I need to focus on. In your 20’s? Getting your education, establishing your marriage, and having children. 30’s? Raising said children and nourishing your marriage. 40’s? Prepping those kids to exit-stage-left, and setting into some work if you like. 50’s? Well, I’m heading into them. 3 of my 4 kids are now away in college. My parental duties are deflating like a spent balloon, but not my care and concern for them. It’s okay to let loose of things you used to do (scrapbooking, fancy cooking) and take up new things! I used to love teaching. I don’t think I do anymore. New avenues, new season. Blessings on you as you struggle your way through a bit 🙂 It can be very nice to squirm your way into a new “skin.”

      1. Jo-Lynne, just eat the gourmet dinners on the weekend 🙂 I have to plan my ‘long’ dinners for the weekend, but then we don’t have to miss the yummy dinners that take a while to make.

        Love your blog!

        1. LOL, yes, that is what my neighbor said when I told her this story. She said, “That’s a Saturday meal!!!!” I need to start thinking more like a working mom. I just can’t work 30-35 hours a week and also do everything I used to do before I had a gazillion jobs. LOL!!

  3. Oh what a timely post! I was longing for school to go back and now they have been there for 3 whole days I hate the new normal we’re back to. I’m exhausted by 6pm. I have no patience with the kids for after school banter and homework. I fall asleep on the couch every night around 9.
    I know I need to be kind to myself and just do what I can do but it takes practice and sometimes a reminder like this. This serves as my reminder and so very well put. From today onward I will do what I can do and the rest will still be there tomorrow. It’s better to be a happy wife and mum.
    Thank you Jo-Lynne

  4. Um, you tired me out just reading all that you have going on!!! 🙂 Thanks for the post, though. Priorities are so hard for me…I always end up doing too much of what doesn’t matter and not enough of what really does matter.

    P.S. I know you have a thing for bags and shoes (don’t we all). I posted on my blog today how I got an awesome handbag (you could also get shoes instead) for free, so you might want to check it out…..umm…during all that free time you have 😉 haha

  5. you are absolutely not alone- this is something that I have struggled with mightily. Maybe build in some time in the day just for you. I did that today- did a little work from home, but then met a friend for a quick lunch, read a novel for 45 whole minutes, and played with the dog. Still got things done-but did not overdo.
    I have found that being aggressive about deleting and filing email into folders can help-seeing a bursting inbox sends me into a state! And the crockpot is my friend:)

    1. Now that we have a dog, I take her out for a walk around mid-day. It helps me not feel so overwhelmed. But the fact is, I’d be perfectly happy at my computer in my jammies with my coffee all day long. It’s all the other stuff that adds up and stresses me out! LOL.

  6. Amen. Thank you for this today. I have been freaking out over what is going to happen when I go back to work in two weeks. I just can’t keep up with the laundry and dishes and cooking and cleaning… You’re right. Something has to give.

  7. I love this post. I really needed it. Sometimes I feel like I’m still adjusting to not working out of the home and both kids being in school all day and trying to build my blog and housework and laundry and everything. It just gets so overwhelming. And I know that it only gets worse/better/more. Thanks for this post so much! =)

  8. Well said!! I think I’ll repeat that to myself as I run back and forth to karate and prepare the house for the 9 (yes, 9!) boy scouts coming over tonight.

  9. I’m always telling new moms to give in to the process that is the season. It changes so much. The days when the kids played in the backyard in the afternoon slip away and are exchanged for homework, activities and driving around,etc. It can be craziness! Good for you for recognizing this and chilling out.

  10. I always find it comforting to use the it’s a season analogy. Some seasons are rough, some are easy, but whatever season you are in will eventually pass.

  11. Thank you so much, I needed to hear this today. I have five kids, one is on the high school golf team, another on the high school soccer team, two of my girls dance, a LOT (the older one is taking nine classes a week plus weekend Nutcracker rehearsals), my little guy plays soccer three days a week and is a cub scout. Then there’s everything else, church, school and community. I spend my mornings writing a little for my blog, getting all of my work done around here to support all of us and prepping for that time from 2-8 when I never sit down, at all. I agree, we need to give ourselves a break. I did the same thing with dinner last night as you did, wanted something “good”, changed my plan and then tried to do it in less than ideal conditions (one condition being that I had to leave the house three times during the cooking process to pick up and drop off).. anyway, I’m rambling, but I wanted to say that your right, it is a season (for me, literally), I try to remind myself that I did sign up for this and to enjoy everything. It won’t last forever and there are lots of wonderful, amazing moments in it all.

  12. I always appreciate reading posts from other moms, even if they are in a different “season” then I am in! It can get so overwhelming to be a mom, let alone a working mom that works 10 hrs a day away from home, commutes to and from, chases around a husband with a racing hobby, kids that are 1 and 4, a new runner with seemingly NO TIME to run, and I feel like a failure when I hop onto Pinterest and see all these super moms that are rocking it! THAT has been what I had to give….I can’t compare myself to these women. There is no way I will ever be able to do the things they do with the life I live, so why drool over it?! I also have had to accept that shortcuts have to be made in my cooking and cleaning so that I can ENJOY my little ones WHILE they are little. I always set my standards for myself much too high, only to be disappointed in ME. Too many people tell me to enjoy this season that we’re in because it goes so fast. And that is exactly what I am trying to do. It works. Most of the time…..ahem 😉

    1. Courtney, that is why I stay off Pinterest, lol. The comparison game will get you. every. time.

      We all make choices and say yes to some things and no to others. We can’t compare b/c we all have different energy levels (I need 8 hrs of sleep a night to be coherent), different responsibilities (some have to work full time, some don’t, some do something in between), different helps present (I have NO family around to help me AT ALL) and we all place priorities on different things.

      I guess what I’m getting at is, it is an individual thing, what we decide to commit to and what we let go. Everyone is different. And we have to remember that. And also, what we may have had time for at one point in our life, we may no longer have time for. And that is okay. Things change. We have to be able to go with it.

      Best of luck to you!!!!

      1. The hardest part sometimes is even noticing that a season has changed. Posts like this are a good reminder to us all that change is ok! 🙂

  13. LOVE THIS – were you reading my mind when you wrote this! I know I am in a totally different season than I once was and I need to embrace it instead of fight it. All in due time – right?

  14. Jo-Lynne – perhaps it’s the whiney little ones this morning, perhaps it’s the 5:54am wake up call from the 20-month old. But I am tearing up a bit reading this post. Because I NEEDED to read this. I think I need to remind myself that I’m in a season – I’m in the season you first described: small kids, the time to make “real” dinners (and clean them up afterwards) – but also wtih it coming the constant watching of kids, the long long long days, the dirty diapers, the fussy toddler, the defiant preschooler (HOW DID YOU KNOW MY LIFE?!?), the disturbed sleep. I’m in that stage – yet flirting with the line of work – and it can feel overwhelming. I don’t want to wish this time away – but I think it’s good to remember it’s a season. Because as you so eloquently shared – while this season, with it’s frustrations, will end – a new season will arrive – one that the kids will be easier in some ways, but harder in others. A season where I will have more time in some ways and less than others. In time, I may not have time to make the gourmet meals anymore – but I will have time to focus on a career. I may have less need to make sure my kids don’t ride in the street, but I will see them less when they go to school.

    I’m rambling now – but THANK YOU. This morning especially, I needed to read this. <3

    1. You know, it is funny. I sorta thought I was in the golden years right now. I still know where my kids are sleeping at night, they’re not out running the roads yet, but I am beyond the diapers and potty training and sleepless nights. They are independent and helpful (haha) but honestly? This? Is hard. Not to scare you, and not to say where you are isn’t hard. BECAUSE IT IS AND I WOULD NOT WANT TO GO BACK!! LOL. But, it is so fun, they are so precious. Cherish it. Because it WILL be gone in the blink of an eye. SO FAST. I know everyone says this. But wow, it is amazing how fast. 🙂 🙂 xo

  15. Thank you so much for your words!!! They help me realize that one, I’m not the only one 🙂 I’ve realized I created these 4 lil lives and they deserve everything a mother can offer. I am married and I work mon-fri 9-5 for my city. im a pretty busy woman. My husband is an oil field mechanic and that alone says a lot. I’m taking on all the tasks as a single parent pretty much. i have 4 children who are 12, 10, 5, and 6. i try my hardest to have them on a schedule mon-fri and do everything i can to accomidate them. i try to work out thats really important to me because without my health i am useless to my children. i need to keep up with them. ive lost 110 lbs in almsost 2 yrs. i just wanted to thank you so much for your blog it means the world to me that all us mothers do have something in common. love for our children and how we cope with it. its truely a blessing that we can all share our stories. im running short of time but ive said what i could to thank you and let u know it made my day 🙂

  16. I’ve just found your blog tonight and I’m so enjoying reading it. I’m a grandma who has my daughter and her two year old son living with my husband and me. When I was a young mom, I was in much turmoil for lots of reasons and I really did not enjoy that season of my life at all and I really did not do a very good job of it. I did the best I could with what I knew then, but I was really lacking. But now in this season of my life, I’ve had some health problems. I’ve had two major surgeries since April….Praise God everything is okay…..just a lot of trauma of surgery to my body. But what a gracious God to give me this opportunity to spend time with my precious grandchild and do some of the things that I couldn’t figure out with my own children. I’m able to give his mom a break sometimes and I am so thankful for 2nd chances. I have other grandchildren….two live in FL and one of them also lived with me and we also have a very close relationship. I have not liked this season of not being able to be involved in my church as much as I once was and it isn’t great fun not feeling well lots of the time. But my husband has been a wonderful caregiver and I’ve learned how much deeper his love for me is and mine for him. We are learning about through “better and worse”, sickness and health” and those vows mean so much now. We will be married 41 years in Nov. Now I’m rambling but I just wanted to say that I was touched by so many of the comments, I remember that time of life, it will pass, but whatever comes next, the Lord will give you strength to face it and if you are willing, you will learn wonderful new lessons for your life.

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