It’s quarter to five on a Wednesday. I’m stirring three pots on my stove top and grating Parmesan over a cookie sheet of roasted asparagus. I’m running to grab Alex’s gi from his drawer. I’m texting Vinnie to ask if I should bring their dinner out to the car to meet them, or if they’re coming up. I’m setting the table for however many children will fit.
It’s quarter to six on a Wednesday. I’m scraping bits of farro and hardened parm into the garbage. I’m loading the dishwasher and wiping down the table. I’m running down the stairs to hit “start” on the too-small-to-dry-my-big-load dryer, for the third time. I’m pacing. I’m puttering. I’m refilling the sugar bowl.
It’s quarter to twelve, quarter to one, quarter to two, quarter to five, on a Thursday. I’m sitting with friends and talking. I’m pacing my living room with a friend’s four month old and pointing out my plans for wall space in the new house to my sister. I’m instructing children on box forts in the basement. I’m looking out the window to make sure all heads are accounted for. I’m driving children to drama. I’m walking up and down sidewalks in a quintessential New Hampshire town. I’m waiting for my Fitbit to buzz. I’m making dumb, overtired, mistakes at the ATM. I’m wandering the grocery store for milk and leaving with ninety dollars worth of food.
It’s quarter to five in the morning on Friday. I’m making coffee and sipping water. I’m walking Dharma out to the yard and wondering why I didn’t put on shoes first. I’m sitting on the couch and editing portrait client photo shoots. I’m uploading galleries. I’m scrambling to find a babysitter to cover me while I work for two hours this morning. I’m checking details for tomorrow’s wedding. I’m nodding as Evie shows me each of her animal crackers and I’m taking my best guess which circus creature she’s biting the head off of, for her amusement. I’m asking if she could please just try to use the potty, since she slept in underwear, and is now at my side on the new sofa.
At a co-op earlier this week, I sat with other moms and said: I’m done trying to be the best at everything all of the time. I can be a good mom. I can be a good photographer. I can be a good friend. I cannot do all three at once, every time.
And so, I stir my pots and wipe my counters.
And so, I bounce my friend’s baby and I talk with my sister.
And so, I walk and do nothing but breath and listen to the thoughts as they clamor for attention in my brain.
And so, I wake up before sunrise on a Friday morning and I edit without distraction.
And so, my emails are backing up.
And so, my workload remains busy, but my productivity is slower.
But, I’m present, in all things.
And I’m better at each.
I can only be the best at one thing at a time.
And, I’m a little embarrassed to say that it took me thirty-five years, four children and a five years of running a small business while wearing five hats one-on-top-of-the-other, stirring pots and editing on the same counter space, while rocking a baby to sleep in my arms, to realize this.
But, at least I did.