I never know what sort of answer they are looking for so I try to gauge my audience before I launch into too explicit an answer.
"We are managing."
"It is hard but we are adjusting."
"I'm mostly overwhelmed."
Or, if you look like you have the time and a hint of interest:
"Maya wakes me up at 4:54 in the morning insisting she's hungry. I placate her until just before 6 in my bed but she wakes me every five minutes to touch my face and tell me 'I love EVERYBODY.' What I thought were hearty fruit flies appear to be drain flys flies and they are all over my bathroom and sitting in our toothbrushs. Now I need to find time to boil the toothbrushes many times a day. Pour bleach down the drain and splash it all over a favorite shirt. I drive around in circles picking up, dropping off, getting to gymnastics and swim lessons, the farm share and bank, Target and the grocery store. Try to make time to call our new health insurance to find out how to get more than 1 bottle of insulin at a time since I have to pay $25 for each co-pay. Continue to work through the totes of clothes (a part-time job in and of itself) to pack away clothes that no longer fit and aren't for the impending cold. Work to remember which clothes the girls will freak about if I pack them away and keep them out, even though later they will not find their way to the appropriate tote in the eves and will end up in a pile of miscellaneous clothes in my closet. Oh yes, and try to work with the current miscellaneous clothes in my closet. Empty the dishwasher, open the curtains for the day, make lunches and breakfast and then clean it all up again. Move laundry from clean to wet to dry to folded to put away and then begin again. Feed everyone again, then clean up, clothes the curtains, take out the dog, go through the mail. Don't forget to feed the fish or they will die. Work in stints to chop down the now deceased perennial garden and pray the lawn can get through till next spring with that last mowing. Try not to obsess about the back deck and remainder of playset that didn't get painted this summer. Worry if the snow blower will actually start since it had issues last year. Shuffle the kids here and there so I can go to work. Remember to bring the shriveled sunflowers to the kindergarten teacher who wants her students to pluck the seeds out with tweezers. Report to volunteer lunch duty. Walk from room to room being chased by yelling kids and muttering 'I. Need. Some. Space.' Remain overwhelmed about how to get my six-year-old to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day when she likes only celery, potatoes, nectarines and grapes. Worry about how we will take a summer vacation next year when Sandi won't get a lick of time off. Dread Ella's next big emotional blow up. Obsess that these stints of single parenthood are going to permanently damage my children and pray that it is all worth it."
And then people run screaming from me. Who can blame them?
In short, I feel like we are overgrown like the morning glories on our mailbox choking "Carver" so you can't even see it.
I'm pretty sure these are the sorts of things most moms deal with everyday. It just feels like it is all on my plate right now. This week Sandi is in Portland from 6 am Tuesday until 7 pm on Saturday. Perhaps it is a bad week to gauge how I am coping.
People keep offering to help and I so appreciate it. But honestly I'm not sure how they can. It is nice to make plans and have company but I still have to perform all the mechanical details of our lives each and everyday. And, on top of it all, I just viscerally miss Sandi. We never spend this much time apart.
I am trying to take my life in chunks and by the day, not by the week or the whole span of Sandi's schooling. She sent me a message yesterday saying "26 months to go!" and I wanted to find the nearest tree and climb up into it and not come down.
I can only really say that I feel like I am somewhere between handling this really well and feeling like my heart is breaking. How's that for definitive?