Snapshots from Suburbia: Images from the Underbelly

This one simply called, "Soccer," is a tale of a mother who has taken too many pictures, attended too many practices, made too much small talk. The introverted mother cannot understand why five-year-olds need so many stations and why for the love of Jesus and all the saints in Heaven, the practice ran for 1 hour and 45 minutes, when it should have been 45 minutes. The kids are hungry and cold. The grass, burnt and yellowing from a lack of care and water, seems a metaphor for the mother, and for all mothers and fathers. And parenting is hard and soccer is stupid.

Seeking Balance: A Parenting Myth

GUEST POST from Kelly at Beer and Junk. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Author’s Note: This post originally Appeared in the Emmetsburg Democrat and Reporter in March of 2014. We no longer have an 8 month old son with a saturated diaper. We have an almost 3 year old son who refuses to wear underwear and craps on the floor. My apologies for the confusion.

The most recent issue of Health magazine arrived in my mailbox last week, with the headline: Alison Sweeney and Her Super Balanced Life! Allison Sweeny is an actress, host of The Biggest Loser and star of the soap opera, Days of Our Lives. She also has two children, a husband who works full time as a state patrolman and has written two novels, one of which was written in half hour increments while her children did their homework.

I have a hard time believing that Alison Sweeney’s life is super balanced. I’m guessing that it took a lot of make-up, forgiving lighting and some very creative journalism to make it appear that way for this particular article. And I would put money on the fact that when the interview was over, there were five text messages from her son who forgot his homework in the car, two missed calls from her agent regarding a contract change, and one voice mail from her husband saying that an accident on the 101 was going to keep him at the office late and could she possibly pick up the kids from soccer.

Alison Sweeney, Hollywood actress, gets paid to tell you all about her super balanced life, but let’s pretend for a minute that Alison Sweeney is your best friend. What Alison Sweeney, BFF, would tell you- when the cameras are off and the two of you are sitting in a quiet cafĂ© drinking lattes… no scratch that- when the two of you are on the phone three states apart respectively chugging sugar free Redbull and reheated coffee while simultaneously putting away groceries, feeding the dog, and translating algebra homework- is that her life is bat crap crazy.

And that is ok. I’m convinced that seeking balance has simply become another way of chasing perfectionism. We continue to believe that if we could only make our lives more balanced in the multitude of ways thrown at us in the media- Less Caffeine! More Yoga! Work Less, Play More! Declutter! Detox! Destress!– we would be happy. “Balance” may have become a popular buzzword, but it is incredibly over rated.

My life is not simply unbalanced, it is saturated. Occasionally it is saturated like my eight month old son’s diaper, when I have to realize that I simply cannot cram one more thing into my schedule, no matter how economically fantastic it may be to make homemade laundry detergent. Most often though,it is saturated like the perfect color of burnt orange paint on the living room walls of our first home; a color that both took over the room and yet somehow made all of its lovely details- the newly refinished hardwood floors, coved ceilings, and intricate woodwork- stand out in contrast. Balance simply can’t compare to the sense of accomplishment that rises up out of chaos, the creativity found hiding among the mess, and the sheer joy of doing everything you love, all at once.

And now if you will excuse me I need to run to the store, we seem to be out of baby formula and Red Bull.

The Night Sky

This week, as I walked the dog through my suburban neighborhood, I gazed up into the night sky to what seemed like an infinite number of stars spread out in haphazard fashion. It was as if someone took a large container, shook it, and twirled around and around peppering the heavens with glittering, wondrous luminosity. I imagined Jackson Pollock filling his paintbrush with yellow stars, and frenetically splattering--the sky his empty canvas. I was delighted at first. I recalled moments of first love, wet grass under tippy toes, on a humid July night. I had glanced up into the same night sky filled with hope and longing for the future, staring into the eyes of a would-be soul mate who would never play such a role.

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