It is not exactly a secret that this transition into fall and school and hockey season has been difficult. It’s life. A lot of life lately has felt like hanging by a thread, but at least a thread exists. And there is hope. Hope that we all will settle into our new normal. Hope that our schedule slows down. Hope that Bigs’ teacher stops sending two e-mails per day with reminders of things.
At Bigs’ back-to-school teacher meeting, I sat on a bench while the kids played on the playground. We were killing time, because his hair cut was at 4:00 and the conference ended at 3:30. Another mom was there with kids a little bit older than my own. She was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt with no make-up and her hair pulled back. I was in heels, a dress, and neatly coiffed hair and make-up having rushed straight from work. Nothing about us appeared similar except the look of exhaustion in our eyes. We were both beat and bone tired.
She talked about how she couldn’t wait for her girls to go back to school and stop their constant arguing at home. How she looked forward to the house not looking like a hurricane had gone through every day as a result of keeping them entertained. How she couldn’t wait for a few quiet hours alone after they got on the school bus. I couldn’t relate. Summer is easy in that there isn’t a rush to get home and get homework done and fill out more forms and look for books that need to be sent back on Tuesdays for Library day and books that need to be read over and over again by my child who is tired. All I could utter was, “Yeah. Me too.”
Part of me wanted to shake her and explain how much harder it is as a working mom, but good sense won out telling me that it is all hard… just different kinds. I know a single mom at work who couldn’t wait for her kids to go back to school, because it makes her life easier by reducing her child care expense, which is a meaningful part of her budget. I know a stay at home mom who loves having her kids home all summer and misses them when they go back to school all day. She loses her purpose. All varieties of hard exist.
Lately, I’ve been trying to find ways to live less exhausted. It’s an awful combination of saying no (i.e. missing out), doing the hard stuff first, and accepting my situation for what it is. I’m really terrible at all of those things, but I know I can’t live the next 15 years feeling like I do right now. Currently on step 1: Get 8 hours of sleep. I’m capable of this most Sunday nights, but have yet to do it any other night of the week, except last week Wednesday when I got back from my last meeting of the day at 9:00 p.m. in New York City, washed my face, and decided I would be a better person if I just went to bed instead of checking e-mail and getting work done for the following day. Easy choice when it isn’t spending time with husband or kids…
I have to get better at this. Surrounding myself with people who are like-minded is so important. I’m grateful for friends who remind me I’m not alone. You’re not alone either. I’m grateful that you remind me to breathe fresh air when I wake up in the morning and put my phone down. Two things I am getting better at. It feels good to know that you are cheering me on and not asking, “Don’t you feel guilty about…” having the nanny help Bigs’ do his homework and make his lunch every day.
You’ve got this. I’ve got this. We’re choosing, when given the opportunity, not to be “too busy” or “too stressed.” We’re focusing on what counts for us and not for others. But it is so frickin’ hard. At least we are in it together.