Perception is a curious thing, isn’t it? I know as I write this my perception of time is different than your concept of time. I also understand we all have our own versions of what crazy looks like when it comes to everyday life. How we see life is based on our own personal point of view. eye image credit
When I was working, I wanted to punch 80% of people who complained about what they had to do – seriously, I had single gals whining about when they were going to go to the grocery store after work. Knowing these gals well, I knew it was a debate between when they would buy food vs. their drinking buddy time. At the time, I was a mom with 2 toddlers who was teaching 4 classes with 4 different preps, coaching 2 sports, living in a dorm with 16 hormonally charged upperclassman girls, and working on my Master’s degree – all that with a husband who was home maybe 2 weeks out of the month. I was flying solo half the time getting my children to daycare, getting to work, cooking, shopping, and grading papers. If you’re not a teacher, I will only say this, teaching is NOT a job which allows you to leave your work at work. I worked all day, got my kids, did shopping, dinner, and bath/bed routines and sat down to grade or do grad work until I fell asleep, often drooling on the students’ papers or the keyboard.
It was what it was at the time, and as my kids got older, the demands on where they needed to be – soccer/baseball/softball practice, Girl & Boy Scouts, workouts, etc. – only became more demanding on me. I am no Hillary fan, but thank God for her slogan It takes a village to raise a child. And thank God for my friends in similar boats- we were each others’ taxis, babysitters, and personal lifesavers for many a toddler/preteen year.
So my version of crazy hit me in the face almost daily like an inside high pitch can drop a major leaguer to his knees in tears. As the kids got older and got into their respective sports deeper, then my weekends became a whole other version of insanity. Down time became a luxury that neither my husband nor I had. Who am I kidding, sleep seemed luxurious. picture credit
Now fast forward to a few years ago. I was working full time, commuting over an hour each way to work, and we were living in a tiny 2nd house we bought closer to where our kids skied for the winter so our son could ski full time. I was still taking him to his weekly workouts and meetings back home – an hour or more South of where we were for the winter. Combine this with our daughter was now at boarding school in another state, and I was juggling driving to see her at least every 10 days so she didn’t feel like we had just dropped her off and left. After a particularly rough day, one that needed a serious reboot, I called my husband on the West coast, and cracked. Like really cracked – balled up in fetal position in a chair, still in my work clothes at 9pm, sobbing. Patient man that he is, he just listened while I choked out, “I…(snort in snot)…cannot do…(snort in more snot)…this. Anymore. [Collect self for semi-intelligent conversation] I suck at my job, suck at being your wife, and suck at being a mom because I cannot do it all, and do it well.” He actually agreed – I didn’t know whether to be happy that he agreed with me or offended that he agreed that I was sucking at everything.
And that is when I went to part-time work, and a few years later stopped working. I knew my children were getting older, and the demands of what they needed from me were different. My time with them was waning, and it mattered more that I help them wade through their teenaged years and the tribulations of high school. I don’t regret this decision, but the demands on my time now are vastly different.
Forward to life today – the demands of my time are managing appointments, being the chauffeur and sherpa, being the chef for private and communal dinners, and being the life coach during rough days. Every so often, I become the liaison between my child and an adult in their lives at school; it’s not often, but when I do step in, someone on the adult side better go runnin’. My children know, since I am their life coach, that they must fight 95% of their own battles. After they’ve tried to work through the process with the necessary adults, and that process is failing, only then will I step in. When I do, I have a legitimate beef, and the school knows it. But these kind of time demands are vastly different than working full time.
I have several friends who are in very similar boats. They don’t work and their children are older. Their demands are just like mine – different, but currently manageable. They’re not living in some metropolis, sitting on charity boards, and planning function after function – although, I dream of this “angst” some days (this would at least legitimize my wardrobe). They’re living in semi-rural areas, living a daily life remarkably similar to mine. And yet, they are sooooo busy. Trust me when I say I know them well enough to know their schedule, and busy is not a word I would use to describe their lives. That would be like me saying, “I have to bake some cookies today, I’m sooooo busy.” They just have a knack of making mountains out of the molehills in their lives. They need to feel busy, so they make the few things in their life monumentally important.
Again, perception. I get it. But I’m also so tired of it. I have no desire to feel self-important. Perhaps I’m being judgy. OK, fine, I am. Despite the fact my mind goes numb some days because I have so little to do, I kinda enjoy this time to contemplate, reflect, bake, write, read. I don’t make my minuscule errands monumental tasks that take me from other pieces of life. So when a friend calls, I can move that “appointment” (aka I want to bake, read, go for a walk, get groceries…whatever) and make time for what really matters in my life – people. And when I call you on your cell… answer it. Why do we own cell phones when we just look at the number and let it go to voicemail? Really. I seriously only do that with my mother.