Yes, I am very aware that I rarely come to this space anymore… and that even on Fridays, I don't always manage to post my “This moment”.
I have a tendency to overcommit; generally, I like to exist in that slightly overwhelmed realm of life. The organizational challenge of taking on a little too much is quite satisfying. But sometimes the balance tips from slightly overwhelmed to completely overwhelmed, and that is where I am right now. I’ve been here before and getting myself out of it is always a tricky because I can’t choose what to let go.
Kids. Most days I am home with three kids, give or take two depending on school, play dates, sick days, and the carpool schedule. They are lovely little creatures, but they suck the energy right out of me. Actually, it’s dressing them, wiping the littlest’s butt, feeding all of them three meals plus snacks, and bathing them often enough that the butts don’t start to stink that sucks the energy out of me. Oh, and the laundry. Keeping up with laundry for five is in and of itself a substantial time commitment. Those two days a week when I am at work (and don’t feed the kids or wipe their butts) are a wonderful break, but it also means I have to prepare extra meals the night before and do extra laundry the night after.
If my husband, Dave, reads this, he will surely smirk. He is often the one who does the laundry and makes lunches and dinners for all of us. But there is a good chance he won’t read this since he is swamped in his own realm of overwhelmed. So let’s just say, regardless of how often Dave takes on the cooking and laundry, I feel like it is a big part of my day.
Work. I love linguistics and I love teaching, but the amount of childcare we can afford (in order to end up with even a slight financial gain from my working) only covers the time it takes me to drive to campus, teach, hold office hours, and come home. It does not cover time spent on planning, grading, professional development and service activities, or other logistical components of the job. There is nothing we can do about this. You can read more about adjunct salaries here. So after a long day at home with the kids, I settle in at my desk around 8pm to work.
Garden. We planted a huge garden this year. Our goal was to grow enough food to last through the winter. I think we succeeded – our chest freezer is filled with frozen vegetables, soups, lasagnas, and breads. But there is a lot that isn’t getting done. Dozens of cherry tomatoes went to waste because I couldn’t find time to turn them into sauce. Chard and kale have toughened and gone to seed in the hoop house. I barely got the garlic planted, we still have to put the garden to bed, and I have not yet finished planting the tulip bulbs that my mom generously sent to us. As I write this it is snowing. Is it too late?
Farm. This summer we remedied our empty barn problem by getting goats with the plan to breed them this spring. We’re very excited about goat kids and fresh milk… but first we need to figure out which of our neighbor’s bucks are good genetic matches for our does, learn our does' cycles, and prepare for potential pregnancies and babies. I’m not sure what all that means yet, so add in researching goat breeding. I’m really hoping nature just takes its course on this one.
Writing. I love writing. It helps me process my world. I have several writing commitments, including a monthly writer’s workshop, a monthly post at VTmommies, and various other submissions here and there – including this blog. I admit that my writing is a selfish endeavor in that it doesn’t contribute financially, it takes a lot of time, and I am really the only one who benefits from it. It would be much more convenient for our family life if cooking were my preferred extracurricular outlet.
Exercise. This is always the first activity to get cut when time is tight, and not surprisingly, I feel the negative effect on my mental and physical health when I don’t make time for a run or brisk walk. I also know that a 30-minute run would boost the productivity of my late night work sessions, making it well worth the time investment. So, just last week we got an elliptical machine off our neighborhood forum. I am now committed to working out three times a week.
Miscellaneous. There are always extra activities and projects. This category tends to be seasonal. The rotting door and window frames on our very old house need to be repaired and painted before winter. Snow pants need mending (soon!). We have an 8-year-old birthday to celebrate, the impending arrival of a new cousin, Thanksgiving, and the start of the holiday season in general. I’d really like to put thought and care into celebrating these events. I want to savor them; I don’t want to feel rushed or harried.
Down Time. It would be deceiving not to include this. I love curling up with Dave at 10pm to watch an hour of entertaining T.V. We try to limit this luxury to weekends, but occasionally we give in to a Netflix binge and watch during the week… and stay up way too late doing so. But we love it.
I love all of these things that make up my life right now (except having to repair a rotting house and mending snow pants). I don’t want to give any of them up. Of the things I could give up, I wouldn’t even know how to choose if I had to. They all contribute to what we want our life to be… But I also know it is more than I can handle.
Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to be just a writer. I’d wake up, go for a run to get my mind going, then settle in at my desk with a cup of tea and write for hours and hours. Or, I wonder what it would be like if I had devoted myself to my career instead of splitting it with stay-home motherhood. If I am really honest, I sometimes wonder (not wish, just wonder) what my life would look like if I had chosen not to get married and have children.
But I know myself: if I created more space, I’d just fill it up again. I’m not sure yet how to work my way out of my current state of overwhelmedness (if any students are reading this, can you tell me what morphological process I used to create the word “overwhelmedness”?), but it usually ends up sorting itself out… eventually.
And, because it is Friday, here is this week’s “This Moment”. Fire, a vampire, and a puppy named Bodhie, who looks more like a cow than a dog.