Paring back

It's become clear that the pace at which I've been living isn't sustainable in the long-term, and though it's been quite difficult to admit and do, I've decided to attempt to trim some excess. I've unsubscribed from a boatload of newsletters and other email communications, said "no" to several recent requests for volunteering, and, sadly but necessarily, told Columbia I won't be able to freelance for the admissions team this year. Though these choices weren't easy and have been a bit fraught for me, I also feel quite relieved. When Jack started school, I didn't miss a thing. Every opportunity for parental involvement or visitation, I was there. Field trip chaperone? Done. Room mom? Done. Let me be clear, I wanted to do all these things, and, by and large, I still do. I am very active in J's school and more moderately so in Ol's. But I've realized that I can't continue to do it all, for both boys, at this pace and do much of anything beyond. Recently I've started having a very clear image pop into my mind not infrequently: I'm like a sinking lady-ship, tossing cargo as fast as my arms can reload in the hopes of staying mostly afloat. Y'all think that's a sign?


One of the most interesting and surprising and exciting aspects of motherhood for me has been that as my children have been born, I feel I've been reborn. I have learned so much about myself, homed in on passions and interests that I hadn't before unearthed, found new ways of making my life meaningful and rich. Yet, as you can imagine, motherhood -especially in the early years- really isn't the most optimal time for all this (or maybe it is but that's a different conversation). Like any new mom has loads of extra energy and time to learn a new language or craft, open up shop, or any similar sort of new path. But in the 6-and-change years since my little Jack was born, the inner push for me to be more than just a mom has become stronger and stronger.

As you may have surmised, I'm an energetic woman. I can get a lot done in a day, and I groove on that much of the time. But I know it to be true that I'm also stubborn and proud, and those attributes often stand as aggressive barricades to saying no, respecting -heck, acknowledging- my limits and trimming the fat when necessary. I've realized though that I might want to direct my energy in different ways, and I need to honor that as much as I do the needs of my family and commitments. Long story short, this means change must occur.

This isn't unique to me of course, not the challenges, not the difficulty in stepping back...Many of my peers worked their bums off in college, graduate school, jobs... things that could, more than parenthood, be quantified, measured, assessed. We put effort in and saw our accomplishments relatively quickly, and this sort of return on investment is both addicting and something you must dispose of immediately when you have kids. Sure, there are milestones, growth charts, words, steps, but kids are amorphous people, not spreadsheets or the like. And so our achievement-oriented mindsets screech to a halt and then must start up again in different ways.

In this regard, I can see why I and many other parents feel stifled and bored sometimes. You are working harder than ever before but you aren't quite sure what the end result will be. You are hoping/praying/dying for the very best, but in the meantime, there are noses to be wiped, annoying children's toys to be faux-enjoyed (Bob the freaking Builder), tantrums to be calmed, and the myriad worries we all feel.

It's a very day-to-day sort of existence; less can be counted on than you might like. And then one day, you wake up and think, boy am I tired. Deeply tired. Tired to the core. This isn't the same as being sleepy although that's a hugely important reason why you're so truly exhausted. I'm tired because I've let balance go, and so I am seeking to regain it. As a first step, I took a nap on the couch with Percy this morning and then played Angry Birds for 30 minutes straight. Off to get Mr. O.