I’d never really thought of myself as a Type A person until my husband made the connection for me. The details of the conversation aren’t memorable or relevant, but he made an offhand comment about my Type A tendencies, and I had laughed.
Was he joking? I couldn’t possibly be Type A. Those people are organized, on time, perfectly dressed, and in charge of their lives. They have their act together on every level and carry immaculate date books the size of a full binder. I didn’t get it. Did he not see the pile of papers on my desk, the mountains of laundry, the unchanged sheets and the mom bun on my head? I was barely able to function as an adult, let alone thrive.
Except, he was sort of right. I have a busy career that I’m good at. I’m co-chair of parent council, and I and I volunteer at school events. I help plan the annual neighbourhood block party and arrange meal trains when someone in the community needs support. I plan birthday celebrations for friends, host baby showers and have been a Maid of Honour three times now. I pack healthy lunches into litterless containers each night and label every damn thing my children own. While my husband is no slacker, I’m still the one who shuttles our kids around town and organizes our lives. From family events and medical appointments to shopping for groceries, sunscreen, new socks and undies, I’m your girl. As a control freak who sucks at delegating to others, and I tend to have fourteen balls in the air at any given time. People count on me and I get stuff done. And yet…
My laundry hasn’t been put away in God knows how long. I own some items of clothing that have probably never seen the inside of a drawer, because they go from my body to the wash to the clean basket before ending up on my body again. My closet is nearly empty because my clothes are everywhere but inside it.
My desk is a mess. It’s a goddamn disaster, honestly. There are pieces of mail that haven’t been opened yet despite sitting there for weeks – not bills, mind you, but statements I should probably open and file or shred. But why bother dealing with mail when you can create a pile of envelopes that physically attest to your incompetence?
My freezer is a graveyard of frozen bananas. I buy bananas, we eat most of them, and then the brown ones get tossed in the freezer for making banana bread. Except I’m so busy, that hardly ever happens. There are probably 50 frozen bananas in my freezer, and I can’t be bothered to deal with any of them.
I wear yoga pants at least three times a week though I haven’t done yoga in over a year. I have had plans to “start working out again” for at least six months. Instead of waking up early to exercise, I stay up late reading and writing and then roll out of bed like a zombie sometime at 7:00 AM. My hair is never not in a bun or ponytail, and dry shampoo is my best friend. I am obviously a vision of elegance.
My bathroom is only clean because I pay someone else to clean it for me. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and a luxury you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands.
The conventional Type A superstar is none of these things, or she fakes it well. I have far too much chaos in my life to hide, nor do I even try to. This is not a portrait of a successful woman who will take on the world and own it. I am not Oprah or Sheryl Sandberg. I’m not even fit to work as their assistant, for God’s sake.
I eat coffee for breakfast most days and always forget to put gas in my car, which is full of broken crayons and half-eaten granola bars. I didn’t take my snow tires off until May when my husband reminded me for the eighteenth time.
I’m a mess.
But I’m ambitious and capable and leaned upon by others. It’s a confusing combination of success and disaster that makes up so many of our lives, especially as mothers. There’s something there – a Type A mom and career woman trapped inside a hopelessly messy domestic failure who doesn’t know where her keys are. Maybe it’s the opposite in your world – your house is immaculate and your hair shines like spun gold, but you haven’t figured out your career or actively hide from the parent council recruiter moms on the playground.
Whatever your deal is, I’m sure you don’t fit perfectly into a box or type. If you do, I’m suspicious that you may be faking it a little.
There is always going to be a pile of laundry and a stack of mail. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to those bananas. Some call it chaos, or even failure, but there’s always another day and another perspective. I choose to call it balance.