I am officially burned out.
This past week I have realized one crucial and undeniable fact: I am completely and utterly burned out on everything. How burned out you ask? If I were in one of my husband’s obnoxious Ultimate Fighter Championship episodes (and consequently spooning on the floor for 10 minute with a 6’6″ wrestler named Spike), I’d be tapping out right now. If I were a childhood pop star from the 90’s, attempting to make a comeback on a cheesy sitcom or worldwide tour… I’d be heading on the mug shots at the county jail.
And if that doesn’t sound burned out enough for you, I actually considered cleaning the house in order to avoid writing this column. Why? Because when you haven’t had a pedicure since your senior prom and you are starting to confuse the nearest Goodwill with Saks, you start to lose the mental fuel to carry on a conversation (let alone pump out cohesive sentences that don’t start to rhyme with “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” over a period of time).
Lately I have been tossing around the word “balance” a lot, because it seems like something of which moms are eternally searching. I have always wanted to be one of those “balanced” women, who flawlessly multitask play dates with spa days for herself, or working hours with “date nights” with the hubby. These days, if my husband and I briefly make eye contact before we crash at 11 PM, we consider it a romantic evening. Or if we manage to utter a few syllables to one another before going into “TV crime-drama” induced coma on the couch, it’s practically a second honeymoon. (Even though in actuality we never had a honeymoon, so we might be a little green.)
Perhaps it goes without saying that my life needs to be more balanced, but unless I miraculously win the lottery, grow a third arm or become Angelina Jolie, how do I achieve it? And it was just as I was debating this (while simultaneously praying for a writing muse who could motivate me like Scarlett Johansson in a Woody Allen movie)….that the baby ate her own poop.
Yes, you heard me right. Amid a frantic rush of my husband returning from work, my eldest getting ready for a movie, and preparing the baby’s bottle (while she sat innocently in her playpen), I found myself uttering the worst words on the planet: “What’s in the baby’s mouth?”
Maybe she just realized that her mother was overcome with writer’s block and this would be the perfect time to discover that her diaper was, in fact, removable. Or maybe she just wanted to please her Dad by finally giving him a logical, literal chance to say, “will you wipe that poop-eating grin off your face?” Whatever the reason, she deemed this the perfect time to stand happily in her play pen, giggling wildly, while covered in an inhuman amount of feces.
Let’s face it guys: motherhood is a giant lesson in humility. After you grow up thinking that the person who cleans up after the elephants at the circus has the worst job on earth, it’s tough to realize that the soul responsibility of poop cleaning in your household falls directly on your shoulders. Maybe it’s because you never realized that a day in which you resist having a nervous breakdown, don’t say the phrase “Do you want to be in trouble?” on repeat or stop pushing the limits of acceptable personal hygiene to the absolute max, would actually seem like such a tremendous success.
But as I bend over the tub, inevitably resembling the picture perfect definition of “burned out” (and begin cleaning the brown, disgusting mess that was formally my child), I heard the most beautiful sound…. Laughter. In an instant, the smallest person in the house took the most frustrating and gross experience of the day, and embraced it as an exciting adventure in her little life. In her eyes, the opportunity to splash in the bubble bath while having her bottom scrubbed by mommy, was as hysterical as a Wes Anderson movie (yes, including The Life Aquatic). And the chance to have her teeth brushed with Dora The Explorer toothpaste was as curious and thrilling as a Lady Ga Ga appearance on live TV.
Frankly, she soaked up everything as fast as the giant stain she left in my carpet… and it made me realize something: there really is no such thing as balance. It’s true that most of us could stand a few more nights to enjoy cocktails with our loved ones (at least the kind that doesn’t involve perfect amounts of Similac vs. almond milk), and almost every mother around could use a big hug, a stiff drink and something that remotely resembles toe nail polish on any given day of the week. But if we could only see life through the eyes of our children, we would probably feel a lot more balanced, and a lot less likely to get “burned out” by our every day routine.
There is nothing wrong with feeling drained from the continual struggles of being a mom (in fact, it’s probably a healthy reaction). But when things get really tough, sometimes we just have to laugh, shrug our shoulders and remember that balance isn’t ever going to be easy.
Because when push comes to shove? Sometimes you just have to take the poop as it comes.
Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She talks about Mealtime Makeovers on Monday, “Speedy Advice With Makeover Momma” On Wednesday, and has a weekly column on Friday: “Getting Friendly With Makeover Momma.” If you would like to ask questions, submit concerns or simply chat: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.