Saving Monkeys, Wiping Tears, Fighting Fires Every Day

“You’re gone an hour and complete chaos erupts,” says my husband as I walk in the door from a run.

“That’s why I always feel like I can’t go run,” I answer.

“Go. I really want you to. Just…” he says and surveys the room. My daughter is crying on the couch. Her twin brother is running around swinging his t-ball bat. Our older son slams his door. I can hear our teenager on the phone with her friends in the playroom.

We have four kids. One is always crying. Someone is always screaming. Someone can’t find the remote, a shoe, their water bottle, their school folder. Someone has spilled juice, glitter, glue, nail polish, or found a Sharpie. It is always chaos, and there are always little fires everywhere to put out. I usually feel like Princess Elsa in Frozen II in the scene in the Enchanted Forest where the little lizard, the Fire Spirit, leaps around and starts flames burning in the trees, leaves, the ground, and Elsa is blasting sheets of ice at all the fires, trying to put them out. If I only had magical powers so I could get dinner on the table.

Instead, I fold one piece of laundry and hunt down the Scotch tape. I load half the wet clothes into the dryer and then break up a quarrel over LEGOs; I load the other half and then forget to press start on the dryer because someone needs toilet paper. I put a pot on the stove and forget to turn on the actual heat under it because I’m distracted by my screaming 5-year-old whose lovey needs to be rescued from the dog’s mouth. Then I dig up a charger for my teenager, find $5 for the field trip form, put a Band-Aid on one bleeding boy and get a cheese stick for the other…

I read somewhere people’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, fueled by TikTok and YouTube and social media scrolling. Moms have always had short attention spans. I really think being a mother retrains your brain to think in five-second bursts: Scrub pot. Pick up Matchbox car so don’t break leg while doing dishes. Throw sock in wash while putting away Matchbox car. Pacify sulking teenager on way back to sink. Scrub bowl and cup. Dig up pink marker for toddler. Load a dish in dishwasher. Tie a shoe. Wash out sippy cup, scrub top, open dishwasher, run upstairs because there was just a huge BANG and now child is cryingHelp youngest one with washing hands. Turn out light in playroom. Run back upstairs to get middle child down for dinner. Get ketchup. Let dog out. Dry some tears. Get milk. Get water. Wipe a nose. Get cookies. Clean chocolate off shirt. Wipe up paint.

I can tell you where your blue shorts are that you wore three days ago, I can untangle your stuffed monkey’s tail from your monster truck wheel, but I can never, ever finish any full household task in front of me. I’m glad the running challenge I’ve signed up for for 2022 is counting EVERY step I take throughout the day. Because every day, I’m not parenting — I’m really fighting millions of little fires.

Meg Sacks
Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.


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