The List

Remember the Pile Of Shame? It’s moved around a bit, and things have shifted some. Parts of the pile have been dealt with, while other parts have been added on. It’s as big as ever.

I am never going to deal with the Pile if I keep going the way I am going.

I keep a running to-do list in my head. I’ve tried writing it down, but writing it down becomes part of the mental list and I get caught up on doing that instead of accomplishing anything else. That’s a pretty common theme–getting caught up on something I need to do so that I can do something. There is always something to do first. Always.

I am at the point where my backlog is not even on my radar, except as one more thing to weigh me down and make me feel inadequate because I just. can’t. deal with it. I am barely staying afloat doing my regular, day-to-day stuff. Dinner is a panicked decision made at about 5:00 every day. Laundry is happening less and less frequently. I am having a great deal of trouble being present with my kids. I spend hours every day on Grace’s naps, and my entire evening is devoted to dinner and then the never-ending bedtime. I never do the dishes. I have almost no knitting time and spend most of it just trying to finish swatches for various designs that I am scared to try to sell because I don’t know when I will knit the samples. Also, whenever I try to work on the actual pattern writing, my brain shuts down.

I am a mess.

This weekend I snapped a little. I just wanted to find a way to rearrange the living room so I could get the cradle back out of the bedroom. Grace has not slept in it for months and it is taking up space where her bed (currently a little pallet on the floor, soon–I hope–to be a trundle we can keep under Sam’s bed) could and should go. I couldn’t get past the cradle to the closet, so I’d given up putting away my clothes.

I just couldn’t figure out any way to arrange the living room furniture that would leave room for the cradle. It was not possible. And this after we got rid of our sofa and moved the love seat out of the living room. THERE SHOULD BE MORE SPACE. But there wasn’t. And I just broke down, so frustrated and tired of living in too small a space with too much stuff and too long a list to ever get through.

In the end we moved the comic book shelf back into the living room, which is good, and moved the cradle against the wall, which meant nowhere to put out dirty laundry. So, much to my own horror, I put the dirty laundry in the cradle.

The living room actually turned out pretty nice, with my work table over by my desk and the massage table blocking the mess under the stairs instead of blocking the bookshelf; the chairs are actually close enough for people to sit in them and have a conversation. Or that would be possible if i could get the clean laundry cleaned off the big chair.

The Pile of Shame is back on my radar. I am filled with utter dread. The part of it that is under my desk needs to be dealt with kind of immediately, because Grace keeps pulling old bits of mail and other junk out to chew on. Which is not good. Then there is a stack of I-don’t-know-what in the hallway that has to go because someone is going to knock into it on a midnight trip to the bathroom and break something. And there is the big pile, which is on top of the filing cabinet in the bedroom. I know the filing cabinet is out of date (about, I don’t know, maybe eight years out of date?), so I have to go through that before I can sort any of the other stuff effectively. It’s a lot of work, but probably surmountable.


My list of current stuff keeps growing. I have so many projects. SO MANY. I have cooking and cleaning and laundry and childcare and games. I have photographs to edit and my column to write and omg the floor needs to be vacuumed again and I don’t remember the last time anyone cleaned the bathroom. I have sewing projects to tackle and baby clothes to knit. I have a third of a cardigan knitted and it is my dream cardigan and I’d like to finish knitting it some time this year. I need to start Christmas prep. I have knitting classes to plan (well, first to propose, but there’s a good chance I will be able to work out a class schedule this fall).

I am not doing right by my family. Grace is mobile and starting to babble and grabbing everything in sight (half of which goes into her mouth). Sam just wants to play, and he craves interaction with other kids and I am failing him. Will needs a creative sounding board and he is turning to his friends and while that is perfectly okay it is not okay at all because it should be me. And my sister, I don’t even know what she needs because I am all tapped out.

I have no time to write and I have stalled on losing any of this excess weight.

Something’s got to give. I suspect many, many things have got to give. I only get things done when I abandon hope of doing anything else. I don’t think I can do that without being miserable and making everyone else miserable.


I am only one person and I need a nap.

21 thoughts on “The List

  1. Jessica

    July 29, 2010 at 11:37am

    I send you big hugs so that you know that you are not alone.

    My pile of shame could fill a basement. Maybe the basement of the hotel where they filmed “The Shining.” And I’m only a little prone to hyperbole.
    .-= Jessica´s last post ..Storytime =-.

  2. NovySan

    July 29, 2010 at 12:05pm

    If we have contributed to the Pile of Shame™ we apologize. Also, if there’s anyway we can help, let us know. {hugs}.

  3. Jaime

    July 29, 2010 at 1:01pm


    you have very accurately described what I think most mothers have experienced, and are still in the middle of. wish i had an answer.

  4. oslowe

    July 29, 2010 at 1:03pm

    for a second I thought that last part read “I am only one popcorn and I need a nap”.

  5. Katherine

    July 29, 2010 at 1:21pm

    I wish I had some advice, but I don’t. Maybe you could try to get Sam into Head Start or something like it. I don’t think Head Start would cost you anything, and they do half-days. He’d get the play and interaction that he craves, you’d get some one-on-one time with Grace, which could help with sleeping and napping. But I don’t know how/if that fits into your unschooling philosophy, so ignore me if I’m missing the point.

    Tom just told me that when his brothers & sisters were at school, his mom would take a nap with him everyday. Aww.

    You’re still getting used to having two kids, both of whom are in very big developmental periods, so I understand COMPLETELY that you are feeling wiped out.

    I think maybe like me you are good at having a general plan, but need to feel the freedom to do what you want when you want. I can only offer what seems to be working for me right now, which is to keep up with laundry and then do whatever I feel like doing.

    Just know that I love you and that you are a loving parent, a creative wiz, and my BFF. I wish I could do more to help you.
    .-= Katherine´s last post ..TMI- Syndrome and Birth Control =-.

  6. kata

    July 29, 2010 at 1:56pm

    Don’t know if Sam was at all like this but I remember Z being really easy for the first 4-6 months then really hard for the next 6-9 months. I mean REALLY hard: generally not sleeping more than a couple hours at a stretch at night and not napping and needing to be entertained a lot. I got nothing done. I could never exercise except if I took Z for a walk. And I didn’t get back to near my normal weight until Z was over a year old. At which point I immediately got pregnant with Baby E so… so much for that.

    The tough months with Z were so bad I’ve lined up help to get me through that period with Baby E… because I have NO idea how I’d handle both her and Z by myself. I have no idea how you manage to keep everyone fed by yourself. And fed quite well too, it seems. So I say: be proud of your accomplishment!

  7. Sonja

    July 29, 2010 at 5:21pm

    Oh. I am so there with you. Noah just turned two and there’s not a single photo of him framed and hung.
    .-= Sonja´s last post ..cheep- cheep =-.

  8. Diane Dawson

    July 29, 2010 at 7:21pm

    You are living my life right now. Or I am living yours. Either way.

  9. georgia

    July 30, 2010 at 12:31am

    yep. me too. sometimes i wake up filled with dread over the amount of crap i have stuffed into the crawl space. or the fact that i can’t put any of my clothes away because there is a toddler bed in front of the closet, so i just pile my clothes on a chair in the bedroom.

    and the cleaning! my god, it never ends. my days are filled with menial tasks. it’s depressing. i get all the laundry washed and put away and there’s another mountain of laundry to replace it. i vacuum the floor and 2 hours later the floor looks like i haven’t vacuumed all week.

    and now i have to get to sleep because i know in a few hours my 2 yr old will wake up screaming about monster trucks or owls.


  10. Elle

    July 30, 2010 at 10:32am

    I feel for you. I’m going though something similar except my pile is sitting in a hotel room where my family has been for over two weeks. We just drove cross country from Maryland to California and we cannot find a house here. Losing my mind is an understatement.
    .-= Elle´s last post ..TMI Friday =-.

  11. Ewokmama

    August 1, 2010 at 1:13am

    Things generally look better after a nap!

  12. CosmicAvatar

    August 1, 2010 at 4:20am

    I find it hard enough to cope with my to-do list with no kids whatsoever, so I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. But I guess our methods for dealing with it have to be the same. Prioritize. Pick Task #1; do it. Pick Task #2; do that. Feel achieve-y. And try not to think about all the other things. They’ll get done sooner or later. (Probably later. Much, much later.)

  13. Lucretia

    August 1, 2010 at 10:32am

    It sounds to me like you’re doing really, really well, and you don’t give yourself enough credit for it. You run a home, and look after your children, and give time to your projects. I admire you.

    PS I’ll do your washing up if you want, I just need some disco tunes.

    PPS My sister is coming to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. She is really nice. I’ll get her to come and hug you or something.

  14. Amy

    August 1, 2010 at 1:19pm

    We’ve all been sick around here for the last week and our pile of shame has turned into a heaping mountain of shame. Usually, we get out of the house enough that I can get it out of my head but being sick has trapped us in it and I think it is starting to close in on us. Nola loved having Sam over so let me know if you ever want to get the kids together.
    .-= Amy´s last post ..Judge Not The Hotdog Lest Ye Be Judged =-.

  15. Martha Joy

    August 2, 2010 at 5:10am

    Phew, that’s a lot.

    I don’t know how you have things worked out with your husband, I haven’t read your blog long enough to even guess. But … where I live (Norway) it would be unthinkable that ALL of the housework should fall on you. This is because most couples have one job each, so they both come home from work to picking up kids, making dinner, doing the dishes and the laundry and all of the stuff on that neverending list. True, for many couples women report doing more of it than men, but men report that they do more of the outdoor-y jobs like mowing the lawn and changing the tyres on the family car, etc. My point is that you should share the housework with your husband, even if he works long hours and is generating income. As it is now it seems to me that you are both a full-time mom and trying to take care of everything in the house in addition to making some money on patterns.

    I really feel that you can not and should not be this stressed out over your life, because you will snap like a twig if it keeps up for much longer.

    Also: Is there someone you can leave your oldest with for a couple of hours some days in the week? And then take their kid for some hours the other days? True, two three-year-olds make a lot more noise and mess than one, but they also tire each other out a lot more.

    Forgive me for offering unsolicited advice, I’m not sure if that was what your post was about. Err, I mean… I don’t have that much insight into your family life, and the best solutions to a persons problems generally come from themself, but form the outside it looks like one of those options you have not even considered and that could really make a difference.

  16. Martha Joy

    August 2, 2010 at 5:12am

    I forgot to say: It seems to me that you accomplish A LOT, even with all that is not getting done. Can you give yourself a pat on the shoulder for that?

  17. Jenn

    August 3, 2010 at 12:19am

    Just got here. You wrote a whole lot that goes on in my head right now.


    Every friday I have a melt-down. I think last week it was because I decided on my list of three items for the morning and then couldn’t find my chequebook. I needed to write two cheques. Holy hell. Gong show.

    But yeah, I don’t even really blog about it now because it seems too much to write down.

  18. B

    August 3, 2010 at 5:10am

    I’m there with you. Totally. It’s inconceivable just how much time child care takes out of a day. Add in general housework and it’s amazing anything gets done ever. I’ve been mentioning it more and more lately – “how was your day?” is answered with “You know, just general care and maintenance…”

    We moved in two months ago. I don’t think I’ve unpacked a box in weeks and there is so much more to do. But there are parks to explore and my god, the general care and maintenance. UGH. I feel like it’s never going to get done, we’re never going to be settled, and I’m never going to have time to do anything remotely fun for myself ever again, let alone fun and productive.

    Agreed: a nap (or some nighttime sleep that lasts more than 2 hours) would make life a helluva lot brighter.
    .-= B´s last post ..Update- Movies =-.

  19. courtney

    August 3, 2010 at 10:34pm

    Oh man (hugs). First of all go easy on YOURSELF? I mean, just think of what you do accomplish a day and pat yourself on the back. You guys are raising a family and that’s incredible. I wish I could give more specified advice that would make you feel less overwhelmed stat but mostly I just want to say think of everything in small pieces. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture. And again, have a generous attitude toward your accomplishments. You ARE only one person but for all you do get done you are still operating as like 10 people and that’s pretty amazing dammit.
    .-= courtney´s last post ..Awesome Books Week Giveaway! Post 3- CK Kelly Martin =-.

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