Time is flying by and I don’t really think I’m having a whole lot of fun.
Truthfully, I’ve been running, running, running ever since we came back from vacation. In August. I can clearly recall when the calendar flipped to the last day of school for the 2013-2014 school year. The entire summer stretched out before us, peppered with camps, play-dates, day trips and vacation the golden ring to reach for that would wrap it all up.
Once we crossed the threshold from driving straight from Martha’s Vineyard to Virginia, the pace didn’t slow down an iota. It maintained and gradually picked up speed as we skipped from M’s birthday celebration to 4th grade orienation, followed by 1st grade orientation followed by pre-school orientation. Then it was the first day of school. Next was class picture day and back to school night and calendar meetings! My planner was bursting with reminder notices and in an attempt to sync my iCal with my iPhone and my iPad, I got iMessage from Siri saying “I quit”. Even with three calendars a slew of reminders and post-its dotting my door frames, I constantly feel like I’m a pace behind. I’m trying to work in the in between times of school, activities, and my responsibilities to others. I’m looking forward down time with the kids, but I also have to get groceries, wash hair (times 3), mail out copies of “Maggie Sinclair”, and attend to the multiple pieces of minutiae that life has liberally sprinkled over me.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not a pity party nor a raging rant. I know I am not the first, nor the last, nor the only person to have responsibilities or wear a variety of hats. I haven’t, as the father of a high school friend used to say, “forgotten to count”. I’ve got so many blessings and good things going in my life, when I stop to think about it, I’m embarrassed for feeling overwhelmed by a situation of my own creation.
Many years ago, I attended a church service as a guest of woman I had met through a Kindermusik class. I grew up Episcopalian. I went to a Catholic high school. I had a period where I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in church because I felt like a hypocrite for reciting words that didn’t hold meaning for me. I wanted to understand what I was saying and why, not just reading from the BCP because it said to in my leaflet. This was a journey that I had been on for a while, getting to this place where I am comfortable with church and my beliefs. While I was going through it, though, I found myself being invited to church by a variety of different people. At the time, I viewed my beliefs as very private, especially since I was still working them out for myself. When the latest invitation was issued, I felt God was practically knocking me on the head like, “Hey, I’m just going to keep inviting you until you accept!” — so I went. It was a Presbyterian church, a first for me, and more casual than the traditional high holy services I’d grown up with. What I remember most about that service was section of the sermon given by the pastor, imploring us not to worship at the altar of the Idol of Busyness. He went on to discuss how we measure our value or our success by how busy we are. We take pleasure in not being able to participate in certain things because Look at all of these other things that I’ve committed to do already! I’m so busy!
Close to 10 years later, I still think of this message when I find myself at that altar of busyness. When I’m whirling like a dervish over everything that needs to get done, everything I want to do and everything that I have to do, I need to step back. To all outside appearances, I’ve got all the plates in the air, spinning in sync, and I’m reaching for some chainsaws to toss in the mix.
In truth, I want to yell “Don’t look at the lady behind the curtain!” That’s where the real me is, pulling levers, flipping switches and wiping sweat from my brow. There are days when I feel like I’ve done nothing productive, nothing worthwhile, nothing that shows exactly how I’ve spent my day. Case in point, V has started preschool two days a week. I had a list straining with the weight of things I was going to do with those precious hours. Then I cracked my tooth. Then the dentist decided I need to have a re-treatment on a root canal. And that took multiple appointments and so much Novocain that my blinking is on a three second delay. So, I have spent virtually every available Tuesday or Thursday that she has been in preschool in the dentist chair, lamenting that I haven’t done anything and feeling like I’ve failed. But failed who? Failed at what? Who is setting up this unreachable bar of expectations?
So, I’m working on changing my thinking. When I begin to feel like I’m so busy, that parenting and adulthood have turned me into a 2014 version of Sisyphus, I take a step back and start ticking off the ways in which I was winning at my life:
So are my husband, my kids, my parents, my family and friends.
I’m working on projects that are exciting and I get to things that I enjoy.
I’m in an enviable position that I need to celebrate instead of wasting time worrying about achieving some arbitrary notion of productivity of my own ridiculous construct. I’m giving myself permission to let the plates spin a little more slowly or maybe even take a few plates down.
Which of your spinning plates would you like to take down, if only for a little while?