My oldest daughter, then seven, took this picture of me in what she called my “Samantha” dress in honor of the beautifully outfitted housewife of Bewitched fame. It was a lime-green, linen, belted shirt-dress that fairly screamed, “I am a 1950s housewife wannabae!
The picture was taken at 8:01 a.m. on the my first official day as a stay-at-home mom. By 8:07, I looked like a dryer sheet that had been used for more than 10 loads of laundry. Who knew linen wrinkled so easily?
Still, I determined not to let that bother me, and I managed most of my goals for the day: aerobics, a quick Bible study, one-on-one time with each child, a loving phone call to my spouse at work, and the preparation of what I hoped would be the first of many stunning home-cooked meals. After all, I was a home now. Full time. I had just gained seven extra hours in my day! Oh, the things I could do!
Why are you laughing?
For dinner, I made chicken-salad tomato stars by slicing tomatoes open to resemble star shapes and plopping tender scoops of chicken salad into each one and placing them on crisp lettuce leaves surrounded by grapes with a side of baked chips. “That’s cute,” my husband praised when he got home. “Where’s dinner?”
My ambitious routine lasted for two more days. I quickly learned my husband would almost always want something that at least resembled beef for dinner. The linen dress found a new home in the children’s dress-up box. And the seven extra hours I thought I’d find? I have no idea where they went.
It did bring to mind this fabulous pronouncement, something to which every woman can relate:
Lions or Gazelles
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion,
Or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle
Or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle:
When the sun comes up, you’d better be running!
For many of us women, that is the perfect description of our lives. We juggle schedules, pressures, the knowledge of whose code is circle, square or triangle on the lunch menu, and who needs tennis shoes for P.E. on which days. Some of this is unavoidable; some of it is because of our own self-imposed great expectations.
My challenge to you is this: stop trying to do it all. Don’t try so hard to multi-task, just live your priorities. Really, truly live them.
Greet your husband at the door with a kiss. Dance with him on the driveway under the stars. Leave the dishes and play one more game of Hi-Ho Cherry-O or Chutes and Ladders. Snuggle up and watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
Those are the things that will outlast any expectation, however grand.