By Emily Umbdenstock

Hello, New Canaan! I’m back from a glorious spring break and, yet, somehow, I find myself feeling more stressed out than ever. I once read that 90% of parenting is just thinking about when you can lie down again, and, friends, I’m definitely wishing for a soft pillow and a cozy bed right about now! I’m sure some of you might be curious as to the source of my springtime anxiety… and well, friends, once again, it’s completely self-induced…guilty as charged. Long story short, from the moment we arrived home from vacation, tanned and fancy-free, I have been running a relay race of my own creation that has no finish line. I know I’m not alone here, moms and dads, and I’m hoping that misery might love some company, so hear me out…

Like many of you out there, I spend the hours between 3pm and 8pm Monday through Friday in my vehicle rushing my children to and from various spring activities, desperately trying to remember who has what and when…and, of course, what field it’s on. The weekends are no better…in fact, they’re actually even more hectic: basically, from sunup to sundown, Tyler and I are engaged in a tournament of divide and conquer: games, recitals, birthday parties…we are essentially reduced to chauffeurs, personal assistants and cheerleaders for our three little people, and, wow, folks, it’s a lot.

Now I’m sure I’m misremembering, and I bet my own parents would recall things quite differently, but I have memories of spring afternoons playing in the backyard and weekends spent riding bikes with friends. I know that my siblings and I participated in extracurriculars, and many at that, but my reminiscences of the Aprils and Mays of my childhood are, well, ones of carefree leisure. Admittedly, I take full responsibility for my children’s pursuits…I, after all, am the one signing them up so they can do it all…but, lately, I’ve found myself asking, at what expense? I read an interview with Michelle Pfeifer awhile back in which she said, “Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath, and I hope we’ve set aside enough money to pay for our kids’ therapy.” But, truly, all joking aside, how much is…well…just too much?!?

Once I actually had the kids’ spring activities set, I, like most of you out there, laid it all out in front of me to add it to the family calendar (also known as my lifeline). Now, I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but, somehow, I managed to sign my six-year-old up for soccer, softball and lacrosse in addition to her already scheduled dance, gymnastics and theater classes. In my defense, she actually WANTS to do all of the beforementioned…but, in all honesty, a lot of it is also me wanting her to try it all! Living in this community, we are afforded the privilege of exposing our children to a variety of different things…I want them to dip their toes in every pool in the hopes that they find the one into which they ultimately want to dive. But, now this is the tricky part, I also recognize that it is my job to set limits…if I am this spent at the end of the day, I can only imagine how tired my children must feel.

Hopefully, one of these days, I’ll figure out the right balance. But, in the meantime, I am giving myself grace and trying my best to remember that missing a practice or two is not the end of the world; that rest days really are a thing…and for good reason; that sometimes my kids might need to skip something, not necessarily because they want to, but, because, as their mother, I know it’s what they need.

So, when you’re on the sidelines on an early Saturday morning give a knowing nod and smile to someone who looks beat. Face it…we are all in the same boat wanting the absolute best for our children although unsure of exactly how to achieve it. Let’s be supportive of one another rather than judgmental. There’s no right or wrong way…we’re all just trying to figure out this thing called parenthood. After all, we may not have it all together, but together we most certainly have it all!

Emily Umbdenstock received her BA in from Georgetown and her MA in Health and Behavior Studies from Columbia University Teachers College. When she isn’t “momming” her three children, she works as a freelance copy editor and an essay editor for college applications. A New Jersey native, Emily relocated to New Canaan in June.

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