Posted by Duff

Once upon a time, I rolled out of bed work-ready and cheerful. I gently pulled two willing children from slumber, we enjoyed (a homemade, organic) family breakfast, dressed, and went to daycare, then the office – early.  I did a stellar, focused job at work and  got promoted. I came home to a bonding family dinner, after which we played a mix of active and educational games, read two stories, and the children settled down for another wonderful night of sweet dreams. The house was clean and organized, and my husband and I both had time for our hobbies and each other before tucking in for a sweet 8 hours.

Step away from the hallucinogens.

Maybe if there were 45 hours in a day, children were more predictable ,  ‘work/life balance’ was rewarded, and I had a different personality.

Imagine this: I can’t do it all and do it well, too.  I have to fake something: dinner, work, parenting — I’ll stop there. Model employee = no family dinner, no storytime. Good spousehood means fewer chores done and less sleep.

For the umpteenth time, I wish I needed less sleep. Or that I wanted less sleep. Prince Charming, thou be-ist my pillow.

From my tower, the other princesses have cleaner houses. Ironed clothes. They cook from scratch and have children who sit at meals and eat their vegetables. In their world, nothing is sticky. Why is everything so sticky? I take that back. I don’t want to know.

I’ll own up: At Castle Duff, mornings mean tears for someone, at some point. Whether it’s (instant) oatmeal on a pajama shirt or a failure to recieve constant eye contact while I pack up the car, I have failed someone before 8:00am and I’ve got at least 12 more hours to go forth and disappoint. I arrive at work minutes before meetings, struggle to meet deadlines and I can’t go the extra mile, because I have an antsy three-year-old to whom I’m trying to teach dinnertime table manners and Inside Voice and I can’t do that from my desk, 17 miles away. I’d be naive to think this doesn’t affect my annual review.

We don’t always read bedtime stories these days. We read bottle-time stories. Sometimes.  This and my hasty retreat to the inside of my eyelids (rather than my husband’s company) is what I have the biggest problem with. (I have given up preventing my home’s inherent stickiness for the time being.)

I do what we can. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I judge myself. More often, since I’m on my second child, I just fall asleep without thinking about it. I know Chapter 5 – Young Children will end.

It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always clean. No birds flutter about, chirping, but, as The Dervish likes to point out, lately:

We’re a family.

And in my book, that’s Happily Ever After. For real.