Balancing Act

On Mother's Day, ditch the quest for simplicity

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Mother's Day

Mother's Day (Marcy Maloy / Photodisk via Getty Images / March 21, 2012)

This is the Mother's Day I finally give up on simplifying.

No longer will I subject myself to "Embrace what really matters!" articles, which I've been known to scan furiously during my son's swim lesson, which wraps up 15 minutes before my daughter's gymnastics lesson, leaving us just enough time to run over and register for soccer camp.

Unless my stepson needs a ride home from his piano lesson, in which case I'll skip in-person registration and try my luck online.

If our Wi-Fi is cooperating at home. Which is a big if, because "call Comcast" is still on my to-do list, right underneath "call contractor" about the leaky chimney and "call niece" about where she decided to go to college and "call Drake Hotel" about the bridal shower I'm hosting for my dear friend Danielle.

What really matters? All of it.

Honestly. If one more expert tells me to put down my smartphone and drink in the silence that would spring forth if only I'd stop overscheduling myself and everyone around me, I'm going to launch a #BanSimple movement and enlist Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to spread the word, as soon as she's done #banning #bossy.

But in the immortal words of inner peace guru Marianne Williamson, let's return to love. It is, after all, Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is my very favorite holiday because mother is my very favorite role. It's the one at which I work the hardest and the one from which I reap the most rewards. I almost never imagine fleeing my role to live off the grid on a small island near British Columbia.

It helps that my kids are still at those dewy-eyed, uncynical ages where they tell me I'm the best mom ever, which I assume will last right up to the day I tell them to take off their Google Glasses while they drive, at which point they'll tell me I'm the worst mom ever. (Via text. #WME).

Anyway, as long as they tell me I'm a good mom, I will choose to believe them. Which is why this Mother's Day I've decided to tune out, from here on out, the cacophony of voices pointing out all the things at which I fail.

Learn to say no. Declutter. Create a weekly dinner menu. Single-task. Embrace routine. Limit each kid to one extra-curricular. Stop sending Christmas cards.

Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Never tried, but would certainly fail because I love Christmas cards almost as much as I love Christmas lights, which is a lot.

Then there's this one, from a Simple Living Manifesto I stumbled upon one day in an exhausted fit of Zen-seeking:

"Always ask: Will this simplify my life? If the answer is no, reconsider."

Can you imagine? Every birthday party, family gathering, school event, date night, wine-with-friends night, filtered through the lens of simplifying your life? Every new recipe, every impulse to help a neighbor, every potential vegetable garden, denied for the sake of simplicity?

Simplicity is a preposterous North Star. And yet, I've spent countless hours beating myself up for allowing it to elude me.

I've felt like a pushover for saying yes to Girl Scouts, even though meetings are on Mondays — the aforementioned gymnastics, swim, piano night. I've crashed into bed at the end of a three-playground, two-play date, one-museum, four-lessons week and spent too much time wondering what I should have cut out — and too little time reflecting on the laughter and the wonder and the gift that is kids who still like your company.

No more.

If Mother's Day is good for anything (and I think it's good for a lot), it's for acknowledging the incredible good fortune bestowed upon you the day you became a mom.

It's for looking around and imagining how utterly chaos-free and time-rich and rest-filled your life might be if you didn't have these little people to care for.

And thinking: No thanks. No way.

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13

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