Being a working parent is like a big game of whack-a-mole. Issues pop up at work, at home, out in the rest of my life, sometimes more than one at a time, and I try to knock them off the list, frantically beating them back one at a time. There’s no way to get ahead as the they pop up faster and faster, and things slip: action items from a meeting don’t make it onto my to do list until weeks later, I cobble together odd dinner menus because I haven’t had time to get to the store, I find laundry in the dryer that should have been folded days prior.
Though I have a recurring to do item to water the garden, I’ll admit that it isn’t happening as often as it probably should. Some days, I laugh to myself that I’m growing my own version of dry-farmed tomatoes, but other days, I find myself in a minor rage on the way to the office, usually already late, but mad that I didn’t have time for the seven minutes it takes to fill the watering can twice, to pour the water, to make sure the plants are doing OK.
It is no wonder that all the tomato plants are struggling with blight, with bent stems where gravity tugs down fruit I haven’t yet picked, that some of the fruit itself crossed past perfect ripeness and has started to wrinkle and wither on the vine. I’m ashamed of this neglect, of how it indicates that I can’t even get to all the things I love, much less all the things that simply need to get done.
I hate blog posts that apologize for a gap in entries. I mean, really, we all get it. Life happens, and sometimes life doesn’t allow for post-writing. I had designs on a story arc I began in the summer, but here it is, mid-October, and the story arc is still hanging there, wrinkled and rotting, like a tomato not picked in time.
As The Pickle grows and changes, I am learning to let go of what is already gone. He’s not a chicken-legged baby anymore. He is round and toothy, on the cusp of toddlerhood. The Unicorn and I take one step forward, one back, as we figure out how to balance parenthood and work and our love for each other and keeping ourselves fed and wearing clean clothes and not letting the house become a disaster. Some days one of us functions better than the other. Some days, we’re both in the pit of despair. And every day, one very happy little boy asks us to read him the same books over and over and over again, regardless of whether or not the tomatoes have been watered or the dishes have been washed or either of us are in the midst of an existential crisis.
A couple weeks ago, The Unicorn was focused on getting himself and The Pickle out the door for daycare dropoff, and I was flipping out on the back patio as I realized one of my tomato plants was bent and nearly toppling because I’d fallen behind on tying up the tall, heavy branches. The guys came out to say goodbye, and I stopped my whirlwind for a few seconds to blow kisses before returning to the fray. I left the house in a rush, my hands covered in yellow dust—perhaps pollen, perhaps mold—that I had to wash off when I got to work.
This is the way life is, now. Relentless motion and change, a perpetual sense that something has been forgotten or missed. Some days, I score more points than others. Some days, I set out a plan and actually achieve it. But other days, I have to just let some things wither on the vine, wash my hands, and move on.