This afternoon a friend of mine called to ask if our twenty-year high school reunion was this month. As I backed our SUV full of kids and wholesale groceries into the garage, I replied, “No way! It’s next summer. I have another fifteen pounds to go. Don’t scare me!”
After we had a good laugh about who ACTUALLY needed to lose fifteen pounds (I do, she doesn’t), she told me she was going to pick up her husband from the airport tonight who’d been in Germany for the past couple of weeks on business.
“Thank goodness!” she said. “I don’t know how you do it!”
“I don’t know how I do it either,” I said. “But if I think about it too much, I eat chocolate.”
Isn’t that the way of the world though? We don’t know what we’re capable of until we actually do it. My friend G, for instance, doesn’t give herself enough credit. She is a stay-at-home mom and takes care of her mother who has been in and out of the hospital for the past year. If you had told her at the beginning what she’d go through, she wouldn’t have believed you.
But she did it. She even fulfilled her dream of creating a tween-friendly website all the while supporting her husband who just finished graduate school.
If you had told me a decade ago that saying by yes to a marriage proposal from a sailor, I would eventually find myself teaching full-time on the other side of the country with two small children in preschool AND while pregnant AND while this sailor had back-to-back deployments? I might have had a heart attack. Or ran the other way. Or ran the other way while having a heart attack.
Amazingly enough, I did it. But so do thousands of other military spouses in thousands of different ways.
While that albeit stressful time in my life is behind me, I don’t know how I did it but I do know that I didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the HOW as much as the DO. The moment I obsess over something is the moment I’ve lost my balance.
I spent the early part of 2010 regrouping myself. I was laid off from a teaching job simply because being a single mother and taking time off to take care of sick children is not condusive to good evaluations. I took it very personally.
I knew I needed to change things that I were in my control. I ate better and less. I found that Zumba is the closest thing to reliving my twenties but without the hangovers and inappropriate clothing. The kids found activities they loved like gymnastics and Girl Scouts.
Then the accident happened. And I wonder if this regrouping was supposed to happen when it did. Those months before the accident put me in the best shape I had been in a decade. The kids and I were stronger, mentally and physically.
But in spite of all of this, there is still a constant struggle to find how I work best. We are bombarded with messages to live life to the fullest and that we deserve a break today. But when I follow those words of advice, laundry never gets folded
like right now don’t look at my bed and my pants get smaller.
So what is my balance? Where do the points of Frankie-Goes-To-Hollywood-Relax-Don’t-Do-It and of actually-getting-stuff-done meet? What is the balance of me?
I can honestly say: I DON’T KNOW. It’s different everyday, probably different every minute of every day. Sometimes I feel like all I want to do is go back into the classroom, smelling of pencil shavings and stained with magic markers. Other times, I sigh with relief not having to do the breakfast rush out the door, hoping the kids have their homework packed. Today I just want to have a margarita.
Maybe finding that balance is like having contractions during a natural labor where epidurals don’t exist. (As someone who’s had three epidurals, I am shuddering right now. Really.) Fighting it just makes it worse; breathing through it makes it easier but doesn’t make it go away.
It never does.
So from me to you, deep breath, shall we?