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??

Bwa-ha-haaaaaa!!!!!

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.