Family Nature

Apologies and Excuses

Juggle by jonnyphotoSometimes I feel like I spend a great deal of my time apologizing and making excuses. I apologize to various people for things like not returning phone calls, not answering emails, not filing my taxes on time, not getting errands done when I should, not spending enough time with my kids, etc. The list goes on. Then I make excuses: the kids, the family, a busy life; they’re all variations on the same theme; I’m a busy mum with four kids.

I was talking to another mum of four one day and she said, “It’s really busy. Stuff just doesn’t get done, and it’s important stuff.” I know exactly what she means. I have a lot of balls in the air and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

You know how once you become a parent, you feel like it’s impossible to describe it to a non-parent? I feel the same way about siblings – how wonderful and amazing is it to have more than one child and to see the interaction and love between siblings – there’s no way I could explain it to someone and do it justice. I also feel the same way about having a big family. It’s really quite different than having one or two kids. Managing all the different stages, the emotions and the needs of everyone, it’s not that easy to explain. I don’t really expect most people to understand.

Yet at the same time, I find myself trying to explain to people why I have let them down, why I haven’t gotten back to them sooner, or why I’m behind on something. Trying to justify my time to people. “I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your email, I’ve just been so busy!” sounds lame at best. “We just started at a new school, I had a migraine yesterday, Mr. Family Nature is so busy at work right now, the kids are sick” and more. I have a tonne of excuses and they’re all true but I hate the idea of ‘blaming’ my kids and/or family for everything — for what I think people perceive as my failings.

At times when I’m on the computer trying to answer those emails, I’m feeling guilty because I’m not hanging out with the kids. When I’m hanging out with the kids I’m thinking about the laundry and housework that needs to be done. When I’m on the phone I’m shushing the kids. When I’m doing the housework I’m thinking about all the other things I’m not doing.

Am I making my life sound miserable? Reading this one might think that I don’t like my life – which couldn’t be further from the truth. I love my life! I’m doing what I always wanted to do. Is it busy and hectic? Absolutely. Do I have any regrets? No way.

I willingly admit that I need to work on being more organized and managing my time better. Perhaps I also need to work on managing other people’s expectations.

Photo by jonnyphoto via flickr.

6 thoughts on “Apologies and Excuses

  1. skyegiggles

    You said it perfectly. There is always something being left undone, always guilt for spending time in any given way when you know eight other things need your time as well. I am in constant motion from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. And I hate that I make so many excuses, it always seem like the other moms have it so much more together than I do. I’m glad to hear that you are still trying to find the balance point too. And yes, as much as I feel overwhelmed with it all on some days, it is still the best job on the planet. Aside from the low monetary compensation, of course.

  2. Brenda (@ottawamom)

    Great post that I can totally relate to! Those of us with kids understand and those without will just have to learn that this is the way things are (or at least that’s what I wish they would do!). For me raising my family comes first that’s why I stayed home after my first and I have learned not to let it bother me when others judge me for my “failings” (i.e not returning phone calls, e-mails in a timely fashion). Life is busy with kids but as long as they are happy and healthy, that is all that matters.

  3. Amy Q

    This is a great post! I am so there. I am all for managing expectations. One of my favourite pieces of advice I was ever given was “Underpromise so you can overdeliver.” good luck with the juggling…

  4. Chris

    I think all parents can relate to this post!! Never again will I apologize for my messy house! It’s just not high on my priority list.

  5. Alexandra

    OK! I have been meaning to respond to this post since you wrote it. (So much for my time management, eh?)

    But seriously: I took a productivity course (years ago, now) and reviewed some of the notes a few weeks ago. What it really brought home to me is how unworkable the expectation is that you are somehow going to do and handle everything there is for you to do and handle in life. It isn’t going to happen. You’re going to die with a huge to-do list. And that’s not even considering the things that OTHER people are putting on your to-do list – like returning their phone calls or e-mails!

    What the course said is not that you need new ways of getting more things done (“time management”) but that you need new ways of experiencing power and freedom in the face of that you are NOT going to get it all done.

    There were a bunch of tools delivered in the seminar that are intended to have your life be an expression of YOUR commitments and YOUR values — not other peoples’ commitments and things that only weakly call to you.

    I actually use this stuff in my everyday life. Mostly to cast off stuff I’m not interested in. I also try not to carry stuff in my brain (a dangerous place for it to live).

    My experience is it actually takes very little time to handle everything I’m committed to handling in life. When I stop trying to handle stuff *I’m not committed to,* my life gets so much easier. One bonus side effect is that I get to think and talk about what I am committed to (“hmmm. Am I interested in doing that thing?”) — which I find really juicy and enjoyable in life. Plus I schedule all this awesome time with my kids and for other stuff I truly enjoy and find fulfilling.

    Good luck on your journey, mama. I hope you find a way out of the apologies / excuses rut — because it can really strip you of your own power.