I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and not nearly so much writing, lately. Ben started his first ever week of camp this past Monday and holy moly was I productive that day. A lot of work accomplished. I worked out for the first time in a while, and I sat down and made this hugely ambitious list of things I wanted to do by the end of the week. Here we are on Wednesday, and I’m not nearly through the list. I went on a small Amazon buying spree. I slugged out yesterday and didn’t try the class I wanted to try at the gym. And actually, yesterday, if there were bad parenting awards, I would have definitely been up for the grand prize. I completely sucked as a parent.
I’m better today and I was better Monday. The common theme. Got up. Got breakfast for all human types. Went to the gym. And I think that’s the key . . . the going to the gym part. I think I’m a better parent if I work out. If I take a little time and work through things and listen to my music and make heavy things move or swim or whatever floats my boat that day.
But hot on the heels of that revelation was my sincere panic. How am I supposed to do the million other things I want to do or need to do if I’m taking about two hours to go work out from the morning. Even if I get up with the birds, I still have to drive to the gym, get the kids settled, work out, and then do the reverse of all of that. And that’s when it hit me. I can do this.
I can make the gym my priority for a while and that’s what it is. My priority, but, and this is the big part, if the gym is my priority, then that means that other things aren’t my priority and they, very likely, aren’t going to get done. I think part of this came as I was considering the Blogging the Bible in 90 days challenge that’s coming up (it starts July 5th; if you haven’t signed up go to: Mom’s Toolbox and follow the relevant links. It’s a rewarding thing to do. And that’s it. I got a lot out of it the last time. I’m mentoring this time. I really felt that I should be reading along, too. And then I realized that, right now, I can’t do that. I want to do that the same way I want to be able to make quilts and cross-stitch and knit and take pictures and and and . . . but I can’t do it all.
I’m not one of those people who is now going to say that the feminists sold us a bill of goods and that no one can have it all or that no one can have it all at one time or some other nonsense like that. If you really believe that, then you don’t understand the feminist movement AT ALL. And that’s an argument that I’d love to have with you . . . on another day.
Today, I’m trying to make sure I remember this feeling. I have this moment of perfect clarity right now. I understand. I can be a good parent if I do the things that support ME in being a good parent. That doesn’t mean read every relevant (or irrelevant) book on parenting out there. That doesn’t mean try on different parenting philosophies like I’m in the dressing room at Nordstrom’s. It means playing to my specific strengths and doing what I know works for me and for my kids. For me, that means getting some exercise on a regular basis AWAY from my kids, trying to eat just a little better, and taking a little time to do things that I enjoy. It means letting go of caring about what other people think about how I do things, how I care for my kids, how I relate to our extended families or other people. It means accepting that not everyone is going to like me. Hell, most people are probably not going to like me.
It also means, since I’m homeschooling, working on expanding my comfort zones a bit. It means letting the kids paint and use play dough of varying kinds and scraping the stuff off my floors, walls, and dogs without fighting it. It means sometimes abandoning school in the morning and doing it in the afternoon. And sometimes it means doing school in ways that I almost don’t recognize as school, and you know what? That’s okay, too.
I wrote a post a while ago about my priorities for this year, and I realized recently that I’ve lost sight of them. I need to find a better balance where work isn’t absorbing every free minute I have. I cannot honestly say that at end of my life I want to look back and realize that I spent time that should have been with my kids, my dogs, my spouse, with students and with my computer.
So, there may be some scaling back. There may be some talk about changes in my work/life/home balance. It doesn’t mean I’m going away or that I won’t be back, but I have to decide what matters most and I have to start living like what I say is most important truly is. Otherwise, I’ll have a lifetime of regrets and no one wants that. Especially not me.