I have been getting this question rather frequently these days. "How do you do it?" I am asked. "How do you settle your renovation, homeschool, tend to a newborn, care for three other kids, do the housework, while not having a maid?" Many a times, I wonder if the person is waiting for me to share some secret tip to doing it all, or waiting for me to reassure them that it isn't possible, and that life is a mess right now.
Whatever the case, the truth is that I have no answer to that question.
There is no secret tip to doing it all. I've learnt that you can't have it all. You can't have three kids and a newborn, homeschool, and renovate a house while keeping your own home spick and span, especially if your cleaning lady has to leave Singapore for home for three weeks. You can't care for a newborn and do pin-worthy learning activities while ensuring that the meals get cooked. You can't clear out the study for an impending visit, pack to move, plan your new kitchen, while writing regular blog posts. Something has to give. Life isn't a non-stop series of Instagram-worthy moments, and most of what isn't captured isn't pretty.
Which is why, yes, I can reassure you it isn't possible to do it all, and yes, life is quite a mess right now. I am so tired from staying up late to pack, to settle chores, to work out our renovation details. Yet while we try to get as much done as possible, there are always more things to be tackled, more messes to be cleaned up.
As I write this, the floor is littered with a confetti of cut paper that the toddler has spilt after a snowflake cutting activity that the older two have been doing. I still need to clear out the study, and it is a huge mess of half-packed boxes. The laundry is running, because the toddler has taken to peeing on the bed once in a while. The house is filthy, because I've no time or energy to vacuum, and our regular cleaning lady is away (so I've resorted to calling an alternative cleaner, thanks to a friend's recommendation). The home is a far cry from looking like this. The baby will wake up soon to nurse. Our dryer is spoilt and we have loaned my mum's one for the moment until we move, and it is now chugging along inside the study room (because there was no place else for it). We've not done much school these days, save for spelling and reading. And I am very very tired.
So yes, I am not doing it all, and I don't intend to. After all, I am human, not some robot that doesn't need to sleep. But whatever the case, this period of craziness has taught me some lessons:
:: Just do the next thing. As always. Because the only way to go is through.
:: Eliminate to concentrate. Because we can only do so much, and we need to stay focused.
:: We must fight, to choose joy. Because everyday can be a battle, but we can fight to count our blessings.
:: God enables when you are unable. Because we are treasures in jars of clay, and He patches us up with gold when we crack under pressure.
:: Our thorns are what keep us pinned close to God:
"The weaknesses, failures, and sins of our family are the places where we learn that we need grace too. It is there, in those dark mercies, that God teaches us to be humbly dependent. It is there that He draws near to us and sweetly reveals His grace. Paul's suffering teaches us to reinterpret our thorn. Instead of seeing it as a curse, we are to see it as the very thing that keeps us "pinned close to the Lord."
- Elyse M Fitzpatrick
These days have been days of tears, of exhaustion, but these have been days of witnessing God's grace over and over again.