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Challenge: Stretched Too Thin

Parenting Is Like Waiting Tables

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If you have ever waited tables you know the term “in the weeds,” a restaurant industry term for being so overwhelmed you fall behind on your table orders. For example, you just had four people sit down and they need drink orders, but you still need to put in food orders for three other tables. It’s been almost 20 years since I was a waitress, but I still have sporadic nightmares that I am trying to get one table a round of margaritas while another table starves.

Raising small children is a similar experience. It’s that same feeling that you will never be able to catch up.

When you are an overwhelmed waiter you get a crappy tip. When you are an overwhelmed parent you feel like your children will be failures and you will lose all of your friends. The good news is there’s a freedom that comes with accepting that the next few years will probably be a crap storm. You will never be able to complete every job and do it with precision. It’s too hard to do so when you’ve got a newborn with colic, a toddler testing boundaries, a list of unfulfilled commitments, and you are running on a limited amount of sleep. It’s like trying to give everyone a satisfying dining experience when the restaurant is filled and you are the only waiter working.

So there it is, now you can explain yourself. I am in the weeds.


You are still trying to manage how to get one kid to sleep on a regular schedule when another suddenly comes down with the stomach flu. You are in desperate need of completing a project for work, but one of your kids just took crayon and wrote on the wall while the other is jumping from one piece of furniture to another.

If you have friends that have kids they understand that this period in your friendship will probably be filled with plans falling through. I had every intention of meeting you out for dinner, but my babysitter just bailed and my husband is out of town. I want to come to your party, but my in-laws have just informed me they can’t stay past 7:00 and I feel guilty because my children who live with me and see me on a normal basis might feel like I’ve abandoned them if I go out two nights in a row this week.

It’s okay that you haven’t been able to complete thank you note cards for your daughter’s birthday party two months ago, or that you still have no idea where she is going for summer camp. You are in the weeds.

It would make sense that you weren’t able to make it to three birthday parties Saturday morning and still get your eyebrows waxed. You are in the weeds.

Some things got to give and it might be completing the novel for book club or actually making the cupcakes for school. It makes sense because you are in the weeds.

You could have done a better presentation for your client, but you were so scatter brained because you needed to pump twice last night and pay the bills. You are in the weeds.

You would have had your hair colored and styled and been wearing something that was new and fit properly, but you ran out of time because there are only 24 hours in a day.

It’s okay; you are in the weeds.

So just accept for the next few years you will probably screw up an order, bring someone the wrong drink, or forget you were supposed to chaperone the preschool field trip.

Blame the weeds.

Love, Kate


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