Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Calendar

I find the never-ending nature of the calendar distressing. Whether I look forward to an upcoming event or I dread it, time rolls on in a relentless march that wears me down after a while. I must be continually doing this to myself by booking in too many appointments, commitments and events, but that is part of the world we live in.

Or is it? I am in control of my life and the schedule of my family. There is a balance to being busy and allowing time to mellow out and not rush, and if I could bottle that balance I would be very rich indeed. It's like a tower that we build on each and every day until it becomes too top-heavy and falls, spilling everywhere and creating a huge emotional and physical mess. And then we rebuild the blocks again.

I like to think that I am designing better structures as I get older and wiser, but I'm not certain that is the case. I still fall prey to signing up for something a long way into the future, and imagining that I will want to do it when the time rolls around. When that date appears on the calendar, I'm just as busy and stressed and wish I could relax and watch a movie instead of racing around for something I've committed to.

If I cut everything out of my life my kids would participate in no activities, I would see no friends, and I would give nothing back in time and energy to my community. I don't want to be that person. Perhaps the answer lies in valuing my leisure time higher on my calendar. Penciling it in first, and making sure I don't have three days and evenings in a row where I'm rushing around from one thing to the next until I want to scream. Making downtime a larger priority, for my health and for the good of our family life.

I feel a little better about that because it's manageable. I don't want to start quitting things left and right, but I'm also slowly understanding that when my calendar is too full and it begins to feel relentless and exhausting, I need to say no more in that time period. Overloading is the beginning of the end of mental health and optimism. I'd rather do a few things well than a ton of things with a matching stress level.

Sometimes I still buy into the lie that is the supermom phenomenon. Sure, I can volunteer in Ava's class. Sure, I can take William to gymnastics. Sure, I can clean my house from top to bottom. Sure, I can hit my word count for the day for my novel challenge. Sure, I can take the kids to the library, the dry cleaners, Wal-mart, Ava's music lessons, the Taco Time drive thru and not get home until 7 and still find energy to do bedtime and put all of the groceries away before getting organized for the next school day. Yes, that was my day yesterday. And Jason is out of town this week so my energy has to carry us all through.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to prove something to myself and to my kids, because all that I really proved is that I took on too much and was grouchier than I wanted to be by the time they went to bed. Our energy level as women and moms must be factored in to everything we plan and do, or our kids and husbands are the ones who pay the price when we are overloaded.

I wish I was further along on the road of learning this important lesson, but I can try to improve from this point forward, just like everything else in life. The calendar is under my control, and I must keep that idea front and center when I begin penciling items in.

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