Expecting Expectations

I have four kids.

This is not a surprise to anyone... I know that. But sometimes, I'm going to be honest here, it feels less like Four and more like Fifty...

There is just a whole lot of noise and chaos and noise and more noise. And somebody ALWAYS needs something.

Like always.

And usually it has something to do with poop.

Oh good lord, my life is poop from top to bottom. It's gross. But it's the truth.

It's like my one constant. There will always be poop.


Because Everybody Poops.

See how I threw that reference to a book in there? Yep, I'm an author.


Ok, anyway, I get a LOT of questions when I'm out and about with the kids. From strangers, from family, from friends, from cops and social workers.

Ok, just kidding about the law enforcement and government officials.

For now...

My all time favorite question/statement is "What? You have four kids?? You look WAY too young to have four kids!!!"

And I'm all "Oh my gosh! Thank you!!!!" And then I turn my head and pretend not to notice Stella slip them a fifty on the sly.

Why? Because Happy Wife, Happy Life.

Aw, I miss Theresa when she was just crazy-table-flipping-Theresa.... I can't handle what has happened to her.

Ok, sorry, wrong blog. I'm a little ADD today. If you couldn't tell... I blame the kids. Which is what this blog is really about.


Where was I?

Oh, but the question I get most of the time... ok, ALL the time... Is "How do you do it?"

As in, with all the kids, the hubs, the home, the writing... How do I do it all???

Or it comes in this statement. "I can't believe you do it all!!"

People look at me like I have the answer to life's greatest mysteries. I'm not even joking. And I have a friend with an equal number of kids about the same ages as mine and I know she would testify that this is true. It's like two kids is the absolute acceptable number of children. When you get to three, people are shocked, but still relatively calm. Four is like flipping the freak out. Like You had FOUR kids?? What is WRONG with you.

So then the natural reaction is to assume because my children are clothed, fed and occasionally well-behaved I must also be clothed, fed and well-behaved.

Or the adult equivalents.. which would be put-together, organized and sane.

Even though I am convinced with one look at my goth-bohemian-homeless look I rock and my afro of a hairstyle that they should automatically assume I am NONE of those things.

Still, the four kids throw them. And I get to hear that question at least four times a day.

Unless I stay home, locked in my house, perfectly content to ignore modern civilization.

Always, always I answer with a flippant, "I don't. I don't do it all." And then I laugh and make some sarcastic comment about how we live in chaos, or that I can't believe how time-consuming kids can be. Why didn't somebody warn me????

And then we laugh.

And that person leaves thinking I was joking. And I leave trying not to break down from the harsh reality of the truth.

Because I honestly, in all seriousness, I DON'T do it all. I don't even do half of it. And the parts that do get done are hardly worth bragging about.

Chaos is not a joke. We live in chaos. It's not even carefully controlled chaos. It's like.... survival of the fittest, this is the end of the world kind of chaos.

I don't even know how to explain this without sounding like I'm complaining, because I PROMISE you I am not complaining. For years and years and years I felt like I was drifting... that I didn't have a purpose.... that my life would always, or at least until my last little one started school, feel like confusion... this daily grind that I had fallen into without a how-to-manual or guidebook.

You can look at my early blogs and read all about my struggles. Because I was lost. I would look at going back to school like every single day, dream about learning things again like it was this distant pipe dream.

So when I found writing, it was this divine purpose I had been missing in my life. Even when I started blogging it felt like the best kind of therapy.

It still does, which is why there is less about my writing and more about my every day life.

Plus, not only that, we were really struggling as a family before writing. And writing has become this job. Like a real job that still brings tears of thankfulness to my eyes if I let myself think about it for all of five seconds.

I am so blessed and SO grateful to all of you. You just have no idea.

My heart is full.

Overflowing really.

And so I am conflicted with these feelings of complete and utter awe that I actually get to do what I LOVE and get paid for it and then these completely pathetic thoughts of failure and inadequacy because as it stands right now, every single thing in my life is demanding and requires a TON of my attention and nothing in my life is getting what it deserves from me.

As women, ALL OF US, have all of these hats that we wear. An unbelievable, earth-shattering amount of hats. And not just because we like to go shopping....

Oh. No. These hats are our House, our Home (Because there is a difference between keeping up with the duties of a house and making a home... i.e. entertaining and such.) our Friends, our non-Friends (You know other moms at the kids school, at dance/activities, at church, our neighbors... basically the ones you really put on your best show for! :), our Jobs, our Volunteer Activities, our Kids, our Husbands, Ourselves.... And the list goes on and on and on.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. And all that Jazz.

We all juggle it. I'm like a circus show trying to keep all of these hats in the air and I don't even know how to juggle. I can't wear them all at once, but they are all demanding that I do. They all need my attention. They all need too much of my time and everything suffers.

I know I say this all the time, but this is the truth. I can be a great wife, OR a great mom, OR a great writer.

I can be GOOD at two of those things.

But I can't even be average when I try all three.

I know that. I really, really know that.

Still, every day I write out these To Do Lists for myself.

Here is my To Do List today, just to give you an idea.

1. Dust and Vacuum the upstairs.

2. Dust and Vacuum the downstairs.

3. Clean all three Bathrooms.

4. Sweep and Mop the Kitchen and Dining Room.

5. Get through the Laundry. (Seven Loads.)

6. Fold and Put away the Laundry.

7. Unpack Suitcases. (Because we just spent the weekend away.)

8. Figure out and put together all four Halloween Costumes.

9. Plan Meals for the Week.

10. Go grocery shopping.

11. Make Dinner Tonight.

12. Reply to MONTHS of emails I'm behind on.

13. Fix the Mistakes in Starbright.

14. Finish re-Editing Fearless and Endless so I can re-upload them and get them in print.

15. Write Five Chapters (which is roughly 13,000 words.)of the Reluctant King.

16. Write Three Chapter of Sunburst.

17. Do a Tuesday Teaser.

18. Pay Bills.

19. Give the kids a bath.

20. Read kids books so they can fill out their school assignment thing that's due tomorrow.

21. Get ready for Halloween tomorrow.

22. Go on a date with the husband. (And I really, really want to be cavalier and say that this shouldn't have to go on a To Do List nor is it necessary. But it is. And it does.)

Yes, that is my To Do List for today. Just today! Tomorrows will be equally as long and different. Who thinks I'm going to get that done? Raise your hands. Anybody??

Oh my word, I'm a crazy person because those are "realistic" expectations I have on myself.

Plus, that doesn't include nursing a newborn baby every hour and a half, after being up all night with him and the three year old and coming off a weekend away where I had two migraines, went blind in one eye for part of the time and finished with a urinary tract infection.

Trust me when I say this weekend was really great and fun and we had a lot of time as a family but it went NOTHING like I expected it to.

It shouldn't surprise me. No day EVER goes as I expect it to.

As in today. That giant To Do List?? Yeah, the only thing done on it so far is this blog... but it's 11:30 and the baby is wiggling around going to be ready to eat any second and I haven't even finished typing yet. It will honestly be a miracle if this blog gets posted.

Again.. I would just like to reiterate that I am NOT complaining. Just writing out my process.

What it all boils down to is that I have unrealistic expectations for myself. And I don't think this is only my problem. I think as moms we ALL struggle with this. We all have the need and desire to do it all and be great at it all.

But it's making me lose my mine. And it's making it chaos for EVERYONE around me.

Since having this last baby, I have been working at finding out what my realistic expectations should look like.

Solo is seriously the easiest baby in the world, plus I have one kid in school full time and one half time and my husband stays home to deal with the others.

I SHOULD have lots of time.

I SHOULD be able to get it all done.

Or at least that's what I tell myself.

When my day to day life plays out, and I put that kind of pressure on myself I fail. Every single day I fail. And then I become this hormonal mess of a crazy person that cries about the laundry and throws temper tantrums that could be any of my children in a contest.

Me trying to figure out real expectations is not that easy... Not by a long shot. I started writing out my To Do Lists and they ALWAYS looked like that.. and then I'd go.. Ok, now cut it in half so it's realistic.

But even half of that is out of the realm of possibility.

So I'd cut the Half in Half and still be disappointed.

If I want to be really, really, really honest with myself I know this is what's going to happen today. I'll finish this blog. I'll get the laundry through the wash and dryer but no folding will happen today. I'll make dinner, give the kids a bath and maybe... MAYBE if I'm SUPER lucky get two chapters written of the Reluctant King.

But that's still being optimistic.

Like REALLY optimistic. And then tomorrow it will all start over. Only my list will have grown because it's a new day.

The problem with Real Expectations is that I turn into an SNL skit. I'm all... Really??? REALLY??? That's it?? That's ALL I can done??? Not true. I can do more than that!!

But I can't.

That's just the season of life that I am in.

So when I finished Starbright and published it, I IMMEDIATELY started The Reluctant King. The entire story was there, in my head and just dying to be written. So I sat down and made extremely fast progress. Even with all of that other stuff. I'm not saying my life outside of writing hasn't suffered.. it definitely has. Just ask my kids... specifically my girls who were the ONLY ones in the entire dance studio that weren't dressed up for Halloween last Wednesday because I am the ONLY mom that doesn't have it together enough to remember details like that. Or at least that's what it feels like sometimes.

Ok. All the time.

Anyway, I really, really thought I would get this book done and published in plenty of time. My "Realistic" publication date was the 25th of this month.

And that was a week after my original in-my-head date.

I still have 30% of the book to write.

My "Realistic" expectations for this last weekend were that I would finish the book. That I would have 16 hours of drive time to write, that I would have three blissful evenings of nothing to do after the kids were in bed and that I would be focused and on top of this.

I couldn't have planned two migraines, a blind eye or a UTI if I had thought of the worst possible scenario.

My contingency plan was to release this book by tomorrow, the 31st.

I hate saying this. Like you have no idea how much I hate saying this... but it will not be out by tomorrow.

I can live with chaos. I can live in disorder and make happiness out of all of this craziness. But it is so unbelievably frustrating to have a book outlined, finished in my head and begging to be written and not have the time to put down the words.

It's a totally different story if I'm struggling with a book and need the time away from it to put it together. It's not nearly as frustrating.

This book is completely there. Hell, this whole series is COMPLETELY there. It's just still in my head and not on paper.

So ALL Of this to say that there will be no release this month and I really hope you understand. I really hope you know I am more frustrated with it than anyone.

But it will be soon. I just can't give a date right now, because there isn't enough order in my life for me to plan one. November WILL see The Reluctant King.

That means, probably, most likely... Sunburst will be pushed to December.

And from there I am going to have to reevaluate my "Realistic" Expectations and figure out my release dates. Because even though it feels impossible now... I really would like to be the kind of author that sets release dates and sticks to them. :)

So.... bad news yes. But the good news is.. that instead of a Tuesday Teaser with only a few lines, I've decided to release the first chapter!!!!!!

And hopefully it will tide you over until I can claim some time to finish this book!!! :)

I'll post it later today.

That was a REALLY long way to get to the point. If you made it to the end of the blog, then you definitely deserve a prize in the form of chocolate. Or at least a pat on the back!!


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  1. Moms know exactly what you mean! We will still be excited whenever you release it! Jyst don't stress :)

  2. Girl, you made me tired just reading all that. LOL! I have one kiddo and four furry babies, a hubby, a full time job, and a weird love of running distance races. And I feel like I can't keep it together. I am in awe of your ability to do whatever you can do and still write. So don't be hard on yourself! We'll still be here in November and December...and whenever else you can put those books into our hot little hands. So hang in there!!! And remember, that none of us truly have it all together. And anyone that says they do is a big ole' liar! ;)

  3. I have four kids, too. Mine are older than yours, aging 19 to 9. The question I used to get the most was if we were Catholic (we aren't). lol I feel your frustration completely. And no, I never did it all and certainly don't now. My house is a wreck and we are NEVER home. You might think things get easier as the kids get older...and they do in some ways. But the older they get, the more they participate in and the more running you have to do. It's the most fun, rewarding thing ever, but exhausting as well. Trying to run the kids everywhere and work full-time, be it from home or from an office, is sometimes more than I can take.

    Another thing to consider is that when you begin to do something you love as a profession, it sometimes takes the joy out of it. I used to sew a lot. I loved making little dresses for my friend's new babies, diaper bags, etc. Then we moved and I decided I would take orders to make ends meet. It was great and very rewarding for a while, seeing kids around our small town in outfits that I had made. About a year into it, I hated sewing. And now, about 5 years later, I hardly ever sew. So be careful and don't let yourself get burned out. I love your books too much for you to let that happen!!!

    Good luck to you as you find the way to make things work the best for you and your family. It's different for everyone and I know you will find the balance that works for you.

  4. The above poster is right! Mom's will completely understand, and we do!

  5. No worries Rachel!!! We love you and understand! <3

  6. Family is always first in my eyes. Being a Mother is most important and your kiddos will only be small once.

    I too have four little ones and life is crazy. It's non stop.all.the.time!

    I admire you.

    You are amazing.

    We will be here when it's released!

  7. I'm single with no kids, and I still haven't got it all together.
    I think another pitfall with to-do list expectations is that we want to do it all perfectly.

    One thing I've learned about to-do lists- no more than 3 items listed in order of importance/urgency, for each day. And expect to get just one done :)

    A few tips-
    0. Regard to-do list as a wish list.
    1.Get a robotic vacuum cleaner- they aren't so expensive nowadays, and they get the job done for you.
    2. Can you grocery shop online and get it delivered?
    3. e.mails- think hard if you really must answer all of it. If it's from fans you can do a collective post on your blog, explaining that you really appreciate the support but sadly don't have time to respond individually. Other mails- they have waited for months, they're probably not that important anyway!
    4. Pay bills online (or get hubby to do that).

    That's it for now.

    Waiting patiently for the next book.

    1. I forgot one important tip!

      I think that your migraine might be your body's way of telling you to take a break..
      Your to-do list has entries that regard several aspects of your life- wife, mother, writer, housewife, friend, but there is no "just be Rachel" entry.

      So, tip nr. 5:
      Every day set a time for "staring into space" (at least 15 min). In this period you can do whatever you want to do that isn't on your to-do list. Actually, you are not ALLOWED to do anything from your to-do list. This is your guilt-free time, enjoy it!

  8. I only have 2 kids and I can't do it all. I think women like you are freakin' super woman!! I love the post above me, I need to take this to heart, about the to do list being a wish list. I get so overwhelmed myself at times.

    That being said, your life sounds busy, but very rewarding and amazing. Family is always first, writing can come 2nd. We'll always be here waiting patiently, but desperately, for your next book.

    Definitely delegate the jobs, I need to do this myself. I think as a mom we want to be perfect under all our "hats" and unintentionally compare ourselves to others. Step back and take the breather you need...we love you! Enjoy those babies while you can. We wouldn't want you to miss out on a minute with them just because you thought we had less important expectations on you. ((hugs))