My husband, Mark, and I sit across from eachother at our dining room table, laptops perched at eye level. 

“So, on Monday, you’ll go with Nora to her concert, and I’ll take Nellie to her soccer practice. Then I’ll grab E from swim and take him to basketball. Maeve will go with you,” I say, peering at the color-coded boxes on our shared Google Calendar. Orange entails the events for our family of six. Blue is mine; yellow for Mark. These days, our calendar is overwhelmed by orange: baseball, basketball, soccer, swim. End-of-season-banquets. Recitals. Graduation and birthday parties. 

My crazy-busy, chaotic crew.

This time of year is at once optimistic—summer is almost here! School’s almost out!—and chaotic. Managing the slate of activities, which, on our best days is daunting, becomes a game of Whac-a-Mole. Just as I think I have it all figured out, the texts will pop up: “Reminder! Players need to be on the field an hour early tonight!” “Brayden’s birthday party is tomorrow at noon!” And then I’ll panic: Is E’s uniform clean? Did I buy Brayden’s gift yet? (The answer? Nope.) 

Life’s hectic, but sometimes, for a few seconds, we sit still.

There was a season in my life when I thought I could do it all: manage my freelance career. Organize social activities at the elementary school. Show up to the birthday party with the beautifully wrapped present. I was also competing in triathlon at a high level. I was breathless and busy and, to be honest, a bit resentful. Why did I feel like the most stressed-out person in any room? I’d shrug away my stress with a “no big deal” attitude. But it was a big deal. An unsustainable one, even.

The birth of our fourth child in early 2020 served as a hard reset in my life. Six weeks after Maeve came screaming into the world, the world shut down. The pandemic emptied our calendar. My plans for a postpartum comeback in triathlon were put on hold, indefinitely. I felt less urgency to “do it all” quite simply because there wasn’t all that much to do. 

And then we were six…and then the pandemic brought new meaning to a “newborn bubble.”

As the world opened back up, we attempted to be more mindful about how we filled the family calendar. But, inevitably, the kids wanted to try new things. So, slowly at first, and then all at once, our calendar ballooned into a blimp of daily sports practices, art classes, and even a sprinkling of toddler activities for Maeve. 

Which brings us back to the dining room table, with Mark and I mapping out the overlapping activities. So what’s different now? To start, I’m not trying to “do it all.” I rely on Mark and our village to get our kids to where they need to be. And I recognize my limits. Despite some serious FOMO, I turn down opportunities that will spread me too thin. I’ve also recast my athletic goals, setting them to reflect a flexible training schedule. 

Races these days are a lot less intense than they used to be and more about enjoying the experience with friends.

Above all, I try to appreciate the humor of our hamster-wheel life. The crumpled uniform on the floor on gameday, the search for the misplaced goggles minutes before the swim meet, the mad dashes for birthday presents. Joking about it and trading #momlife memes with friends alleviates those inevitable twinges of failure or guilt that creep in when I drop a ball (or four). Because sure, we’re in the thick of it. But we’re all in it together.

#Relateable. I vow to catch up with old friends one of these days…