Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Disorganized thoughts, because that's all I have time for

The conundrum, in a nutshell: my top priorities in my life are:

  • my kids
  • myself
  • DT and our marriage
  • my work.
The list is unordered, because each of these things is my top priority. They take precedence at different times, and in different ways, but I feel like I never get past these four things. What I've lost:
  • completely wasted time -- although I'm intrigued by getting a Wii, for example, I feel like I couldn't justify playing it, unless DT and I played together and it was serving as together-time, or unless it really is strenuous and I could count it as exercise, which I haven't truly done in months.
  • mental wandering time
  • haircuts, etc.
  • peace of mind.
It's the last one that's causing the problem. I feel such pressure on most of my time that I can't relax into whatever I'm currently doing, to borrow a yoga image. I feel guilty, right now, for writing this post instead of working on my dissertation, because I'm in the middle of a valuable, and short, block of potential-work time today. I'm writing anyway, because I need to begin to sort these feelings out, but I'm getting less out of it than I should because I feel the pull of other needs.

I just got back from WonderGirl's school, where her reading group put on a puppet show of a book they've been reading. I knew they were making puppets, but was surprised yesterday (yesterday!) to get a handwritten note in her school folder, "Dear Mommy: (her first colon -- I'm so proud) The puppet show is at 10:30. Please come. Love, WonderGirl." So, of course, I went. And I loved it, and she was happy to have me there, and I wouldn't have missed it, even if it took an hour out of my day for a 7-minute puppet show.

While I was there, waiting for the puppeteers to be ready, I basically attacked another mom, asking how she does it. Both she and her husband are tenured professors; she told me she was on the verge of quitting her job when she had her son because she just couldn't imagine how to do it. Their solution? Her mother retired early and moved here to help. I mentally list the other couples we know: one makes it work because the oldest child goes to the same school at which the father teaches; one mom works part-time, at home, when she can find a babysitter; one dad quit his long-distance consulting job to be home; one mom quit to stay home after the second child. We all have ad hoc solutions. For DT and me, I'm generally the ad hoc solution. He does everything he can to be flexible and pick WonderGirl up from school a couple of days each week, to give me an extra hour or two to work, but the fact is that he's the one who pays our mortgage and allows me to be a student. He only has so much flexibility, so I make the trade-offs, and the kids always win over the work. That's the right decision, and I make it knowing that it's the right decision, but I just wonder why I ever thought that I could do both well, much less put energy and time into my marriage and myself.

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