What Happened to Me?

Paula Parks Working Parent

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I used to be an organized person. Really. I used to move with ease from a neatly appointed office with a sparsely filled inbox (nothing sat in there for more than a day or two), to a vehicle with little more than a coffee mug and one of those little tree air fresheners hanging in the back. That vehicle took me home where, though a little cluttered, there was never more than a half a hamper of laundry in the bathroom and a dish or two in the sink left over from breakfast.

My days included work, lunch with girlfriends, softball games four nights a week, a late movie and karaoke at a local watering hole. It didn’t matter what was on the agenda—it was my agenda, and I had all the time in the world to cherry pick the things I enjoyed most.

As I look around my home office, I see that somewhere, something has gone terribly awry. My kid’s Halloween bucket is on my desk—from last Halloween. There’s also half of a plastic Easter egg, a label maker, various articles of clothing belonging to every member of our family, coupons, a box of checks, a box of Chex and the tray for the bumbo seat my son outgrew 16 months ago and my daughter won’t be able to use for another four to five weeks. It’s an eclectic collection of foreign objects, none of which belong here.

At work, there is no inbox. It has been replaced stacks and piles of articles I need to read, forms I need to complete, documents I need to file and correspondence I need to write. It’s not that I’ve quit working hard; rather, I’ve quit coming in early, staying late and spending weekends at the office.

My truck isn’t much better, though most of the items appear to serve some function. There are two car seats, two diaper bags, a board book, a plastic horse, a sippy cup and some cheerios…loose…on the floor. In the front seat, there’s a reusable grocery bag, a towel, a hair scrunchy and a half-drank bottle of vitamin water. Who drives this? Who lives here? Where did my life go?

Well, it all happened innocently enough. I fell in love. We got married and bought a home that had more than one bedroom. We filled the rooms with a rambunctious 2-year old boy and a chubby baby girl. We started to focus more on colors and counting and what a cow says, and much less on a tidy and orderly life. These days we get overly excited about pooping in the potty and struggle to muster the motivation to load the dishwasher.

I am beholden to the universe to make sure my kids eat well. While I would blissfully chow down on a bowl of cereal for dinner, I faithfully cook balanced meals for my family—even if I have to wash the pots and pans before I start. I speak about squash in a sing-song voice and puree my own applesauce. The old me thinks this me has gone completely bonkers. It happened to my husband, too.

We never watch real-time television because it runs concurrent to play time, bath time, dinner, reading books or a good old-fashioned tickle-fest. My hubs and I both know all the lyrics to “Moo, Baa, La La La” and we sing about Old McDonald until we want to eviscerate that ridiculous farmer and his boisterous animals. We fall into bed every night exhausted, with half of our “to do list” yet again unfulfilled.

Oddly enough though, I only miss the old me when I can’t find something, or when I’m running late or when I’m just plain exhausted. And this happens more often than I care to admit. But even then, I have to laugh, because I truly wouldn’t want it any other way. There will be time to revert back to the old me in about 18 years.

About the Author

Paula Parks

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