Last Thursday night, at approximately 6:55pm, I nearly had a nervous breakdown in the Halloween aisle at a Michael's craft store in Burbank.
I know that I seem an unlikely candidate to be shopping at a craft store, but I found myself in the land of glitter glue and BeDazzlers because I stupidly volunteered to bring cookie decorating supplies for the preschool Halloween party. Ostensibly this particular chore seemed simple: go to my local grocery store, pick up some orange decorating sugar and a few festive toppers, and call it a day. As is par for the course with parenting, what seemed simple ended up being a Sisyphean task. Over the course of three days and six grocery store visits I had exactly one bag of sunflower seeds and a box of raisins. Not exactly what immediately comes to mind when one thinks "festive" and "party". Had I planned ahead, I probably could have ordered everything I needed on Amazon, but since I left it to the last minute I found myself merely days away from becoming the Grinch who stole Halloween.
Which is how I ended up sitting in horrible rush hour traffic, late for my writer's group, on my may to a Michael's store in the bowels of the Valley.
Apparently, cake decorating is considered a craft, so Michael's carries a lovely selection of things like candy corn pumpkins, sugar skulls, and orange frosting in a tube. Thanks to my inability to plan ahead, everything I purchased was 60% off. The epic savings alone should have made me happy, but instead I found myself tearing up at the fact that Michael's was sold out of orange and black multi-colored sprinkles.
Before you close my blog in disgust because you think that I am officially the embodiment of First World Problems, I want to point out that I wasn't crying because they were out of sprinkles. Yes, it was disappointing, but it was more that everything just felt like it was too much. I was exhausted because the Little Lady had been awake the night before from 2-5am, I was coming down with a cold, I was so far behind on a writing deadline that I wasn't even sure I would still get paid, I was stressed out about being late to my writer's group, and I wanted to make sure that my kid and his little friends had something to put on their pumpkin cookies other than sunflower seeds and sadness.
As I stood there under the incredibly unflattering fluorescent lights in the Michael's store, I came to a realization: there is no such thing as work-life balance when it comes to Motherhood. It's impossible to do it all, despite how hard one tries. I truly enjoy working, and while I think it would simplify things if I were content to be "just" a Mom, that's not my personality. I am incredibly blessed to be able to work from home, doing something that I love. But I struggle mightily with balancing the demands of my work, with the demands of my children. I'm the first to admit that I take on way too much - I didn't have to volunteer for anything, when it really comes down to it - so I constantly feel as though I'm a hamster on a wheel racing to keep up with the requirements of work and family. I honestly don't know how one does it other than striking it rich and outsourcing everything except bedtime stories.
The only conclusion I've come to is this: you have to make peace with the fact that when you choose one thing, the other kind of falls to the wayside. I couldn't very well look the Muffin Man in the eye last week and tell him that we wouldn't have anything to bring to the cookie decorating party because Mommy needed feedback on her latest Black-ish spec. In the end, there will be plenty of opportunities to get critique from my fellow writers, but only one chance to experience the sheer joy of watching your kid and his friends get covered in surely toxic, overly-sugared orange frosting, and that's priceless.