So I was having a visit, and many glasses of red wine (need this even be articulated?) with a dear friend (also a grad student) whom I haven't seen in quite some time. She came before bedtime to visit with the kids, and was an enormous help by reading to Boy-o when Girlio had an evening meltdown brought on by exhaustion and needed my full attention. It felt luxurious to be able to provide my full attention, and I had her snuggled into bed to sleep in no time. Boy-o went down without my hitch a half hour later. A pretty regular Friday night chez Mama T. Over-tiredness, exhaustion, meltdowns (the melter-downer alternates between the three of us, though on particularly special Fridays, we all go at once!) and bedtime.
Later, when my friend and I were into a bottle of red and good catch-up conversation, I confessed to her my feeling that I am feeling like a failure. She laughed uproariously and said the most perfect thing ever. She said: "Oh man. No offence, but when I was watching you deal with the kids and put them down and then listening to you talk about all of the crazy school stuff on top of that, I was thinking: I wouldn't trade places with you for the world! How are you still standing?"
I don't think I have ever, in my life, felt more validated. And I was SO not offended. ;)
I may not exactly be keeping 'afloat'. I may have a to-do list longer than Santa's. But GD-it. I'm still standing. Almost upright, even. And if the lights get shut off because I forgot to pay the bills again, I'm gonna hang on to that.