Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Making a life for ourselves

Regular readers know I stress out over trying to balance my life. And for me, that's not about doing less, but doing everything I want without completely shortchanging any particular piece. It's why I think about all that organization stuff. I want it all--really I do. Today, Elizabeth at Half-Changed World said what I think about all the time:

There are people who are happy focusing all their energy in one part of their life; I'm just not one of them.

She talks about how she appreciates the many different facets of her life and that she feels fulfilled by all of them, even she does none of them perfectly. Where the heck does this strive for perfection in all things come from? What happened to good enough?

That lack of desire on my part to focus on just one thing is one reason I can't be an academic as it is currently constructed. In order to really succeed, I think I'd need that kind of focus and that's just not going to happen. I like my odds and ends, thank you very much.

From a slightly different corner, but still, I think, at its root, from the same underlying desire, Jody writes about needing to refill her cup. I remember when she wrote about this before. I sense a theme. For now, she's focusing on her dissertation, trying to gain some closure on a project she started. I know that feeling, for sure. But what I really like about what she writes is the gutsiness of it, the expression emotion that I know I, and many other parents, have felt:

Truly, I've been holding on by my fingertips for the last two years. I haven't written much about this on the blog lately, because it's embarrassing and miserable, but I'm so burnt out, I can't stand myself. . . . Finally, with kindergarten starting, the kids are in a place they seem to love, with people I trust for now, and I can turn my attention to healing all the broken bits of myself.

I've felt that way very recently and it took some therapy and navel gazing and long conversations with my husband. I had shut down, unexpectedly quit, to use a geeky metaphor. I think we all, parents or not, get to that point in a world that pushes us to do, do, do, not for ourselves, but for others. Doing for ourselves is not something that's valued in our society. Taking time off, whether it's from work or from your kids, is important, but is often seen as a bit verboten.

When I was at home with Geeky Boy too, I felt pretty worn out. I just had very little connection with the outside world and that made me feel so invisible. Sometimes I long for the relative freedom I had then and think that I want that back again. But then I remember how lonely I felt, how I just couldn't make myself be one of those moms who obsessed over every little detail of their kids' lives. Things might not be the same now as they were then. I'm a different person with more interests, more mobility than I had then. But I enjoy the energy I'm putting into my work. I think if I'd continued to stay at home, I would have put that energy into something besides my kids even if I didn't get paid to do it.

I hope Jody refills her cup. I have faith that she will.

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