I woke up this morning with panic in my chest. When I signed up for cooking school, I had no idea what the work load would be. Turns out, it’s a lot more work than I ever imagined — even though I had sufficient warning (that, Julia, is a reference to my email exchange with Jamie. Thank you SO much for that hook-up!). Anyway, I woke up battling racing thoughts and panic, and those didn’t get any better as the day wore on.
After dropping my mom off at the airport at noon, I came home, read to the girls, and attempted to put them down for quiet time and nap time. Mary is resisting her afternoon nap these days, so this attempt was not entirely successful. Finally, I just let her toddle around while I worked on my homework…from 3pm to 10:20pm, with only brief intermissions.
Can you believe that? And I’m not even doing any lab classes this semester! And I’m submitting sub-par work! And half of my assignments aren’t getting turned in on time! It is nuts.
I don’t even know why I’ve self-imposed all of this pressure and activity in my life. When I took time today to read and play with my kids, I wistfully remembered just a month ago when I didn’t ever have anything competing with that time.
BUT I also remember (since it was only a month ago) feeling like I was disappearing into motherhood…and I didn’t like it. I mean, I LOVE my children, but I just didn’t like the lack of self actualization on my own terms. I grew up thinking that I could never get enough of domesticity, but it turns out that, after cleaning my kitchen floor approximately two thousand times, I can.
In one Relief Society meeting over a decade ago, one of my friends gave a great lesson on balance. She said that competitive swimmers don’t balance by gliding on the top of the water; rather, they pivot completely from side to side, and thereby achieve perfect balance. I took that analogy to heart, but I have to say, I feel like I am completely pivoted right now, and it doesn’t feel very balanced! I’m constantly chasing down time to self actualize, but in the meantime I feel like a slacker in the mom department, a slob in the homemaking department, and short-tempered in the wife department. When I practice or do homework or drive to my evening classes, at the back of my mind is this constant terror that these choices mean I’m a selfish narcissist. But also at the back is this faint hope that this pursuit will eventually give me balance. I’ll feel really betrayed if I ever discover that the best swimmers just glide evenly on top.
Because I suspect I am a narcissist, I spend most of my blogging time chronicling my own thoughts and feelings, and don’t do as great of a job capturing what’s going on in my family. Which is the whole point of this blog. I haven’t even written about how Lydia got confused when Abe tried to teach her the concept of privacy the other day, and that a was such a cute bungle. He asked her if she wanted her privacy on the potty, and she eagerly said she did. A couple minutes later, she sat down at her table wailing because no one had given her her privacy, and minutes later she was leading Nana around the house by the finger searching for her “pwivacy.” She thought it was a type of candy bar reward for going potty, and she was sorely disappointed when those expectations went unmet.
In my crazy attempts to carve time for self-actualization out of the day, I have discovered books on tape for children. I don’t know how they evaded me before, but wow, are they awesome. Today I finally taught Lydia how to load, unload, control the buttons and follow along in the book; that liberated me for hours. Well, some books are more ensnaring than liberating…for instance, today I stayed long enough to listen to a book on Marian Anderson, the African American opera singer from the 1940’s and 50’s. Some of her songs made my panicky, stressed heart want to crack in two. Hands down my favorite children’s book I’ve listened to on tape (and, since I just discovered this genre, consider me an expert).
Here are some pics we took during FHE. Kudos to Abe for coming up with the whole activity, because I was ready to skip it and work on my homework instead…