Like Making Pancakes in a Kayak

I have been struggling lately to make sense of the difficulty I have in “staying on top of things.” Everything seems to be falling through the proverbial cracks the past few weeks (months? years?). I am trying to be a mother to a small boy who is learning he has something to say, and a wife to a husband I see on 1 or 2 weeknights and 1 weekend day per week, a keeper of a home piled with laundry, papers, dishes, and dogs that need love sometimes, and a 1400 square foot garden that requires no small amount of labor. I am trying to cook and bake good food for myself and my family. I am trying to be a provider, working outside the home four nights a week, often coming home at midnight or two am. My son wakes up between 5 am and 8 am. I am trying to be a writer (ha! ha! ha! Is how I feel about that part lately), and I am trying to also be a woman who reads fiction and newspapers, cares for her body, and has some time to see her friends and family, while juggling bills, home remodelling, car problems, and the assorted other responsibilities that come with adulthood.

Its sort of like trying to make pancakes in a kayak.
Which is theoretically possible. Little campstove balanced in front of you, bowl of batter in your lap, spatula in one hand and the paddle in the other, eyes ever vigilant for upcoming waves and eddies that might tip the balance of the boat. Sometimes you’ll need to shield the little flame under the delicately balanced skillet from the wind, to ensure that even heat continues to be applied to the pancakes. Maybe, because its fun, you are also adding sliced bannanas to the pancakes, or little bits of hazelnut or dark chocolate. Why not, right? You’re already making pancakes in a kayak. You might as well make fancycakes. Don’t forget though, you still need to paddle from point A to point B, so whip up that batter, paddle, pour, paddle, steady, paddle, garnish, paddle…

technically possible. And damn, the scenery is beautiful. You really feel lucky to be paddling down this beautiful river, its the sort of thing that’s never the same twice and other people dream of paddling this river and never get to and you feel really grateful, most days, but also kind of insane, and you wonder sometimes what’s wrong with you, why you’re finding it to be so frustrating and DIFFICULT and exhausting so much of the time.

Because you’re not just paddling the kayak… you’re trying to make pancakes in it. And also pay the bills and get the laundry done and those dishes need washing once they’re done and maybe you should pull it over to shore and run up the hill to have a glass of wine with a friend, you can sleep some other time, and it would be nice to watch a movie with your husband some evening but by the time you get the kid to sleep and talk shop you’re both nodding off on the couch.

There are a lot of days when I feel like I’m doing the bare minimum on every front. Doing too many things halfway. Strugglin, strugglin. And also, having the time of my life, and not doing half bad at it all either.

If you were here in the room with me I could look you in the eye and tell you:
I wouldn’t trade this for any other era.

photo credit: Andrea Fuentes Diaz Photography

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6 Comments

Filed under basic goodness, Family, Labor, motherhood, watching it all go by

6 responses to “Like Making Pancakes in a Kayak

  1. Holy shit balls. That was funny. Thank you. Making pancakes in a kayak. Yup, that about sums it up.

  2. Stephanie

    You are a writer. Right now you are just staying ahead of the avalanche. In a kayak. And you are making fancycakes. I loved this. Thank you. Just keep on doing what you’re doing. You already know it’s worth it. And there is no easier way. My babies are driving cars now and being in cars with their other teen friends. So I am in a kayak, watching them make pizza in their kayaks and they are getting ahead of me in the river….sigh

  3. There is nothing else like this time in your life. The richness, the details, the frustration, the surprises (like when your wee one says, “Local” in terms of describing his latest food adventure), the exhaustion. All combine to cook up one amazing outcome as you paddle. It may not look like a waffle. But it’s oh so fine. Your choice to take the t-i-m-e to experience the family and home you’ve created, to tender care for it as best you can, will yield bounty in ways you can’t even imagine. Here’s to a summer of recharge for you.

  4. Motherhood is definitely a balancing act. Love the fun analogy!

  5. Laura Fisher

    I am constantly running that race to make pancakes as well. I have two boys (22months and 7 years old) and a dog who is as much a kid as the kids are. It gets crazy and there are times when I completely lose motivation. Life goes on and everything eventually gets done even if it is just minimally.

    Being a mother is a hard job but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Stay on the water and don’t flip.

  6. Heather

    I stumbled upon you after googling some sort of combo of mindfulness west seattle… I too am ironically a west seattle mother, wife and waitress. One who spends more time with customers than I do my family. I enjoy your writing and teared up reading an old blog post about the woman on her anniversary dinner. I just wanted to tell you to remember that you are not trying to be anything. You ARE a writer and you ARE all the things you think you are “trying” to be. Namaste.

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