Friday, April 8, 2016

Life Balance - when winning a battle means you've lost the war...

With all of our tech tools life should be easier, right? Apps to organize, virtual calendars that allow you to sync with your coworkers, family, and friends, even hands free calling for your car and wifi in almost every public place - we should be the most organized, least stressed people in the world.

But we aren't.

I was giddy when I finally got my workspace in order. After three weeks of dedicated purging, organizing, and reassembling, my house looked amazing. I had to be organized after all, I had a business to start, kids to parent, sports to coach, a job to maintain, a house to maintain, bills to pay - and that's when I realized that my organized house did little to organize my life.

I'd walk you through a typical day but does it matter? Many of you probably have similar situations. Too much to do, too little time. And nothing works with anything else because that would be silly.

Why would Maddox's school musical - that he has to attend - NOT be on the one night of the week that Autumn has softball practice? Because that would be crazy.

It's the same for most parents, methinks. But for us single parents, it's an extra special challenge. We can't splice ourselves and our former other half may not be able - or willing - to be there. Then one parent is left to be two parents. But what happens when you can't be in two places at once?

I keep hearing "kids are resilient." You would not believe how many times I've heard that. People trying to make me feel better about not being able to do everything. I appreciate that said people care enough about me to want to make me feel better, but it doesn't. I still see the disappointment in my kids' faces when I can't do something, when I have to choose to go with one instead of the other. I give them reasons but they don't see the time I spend agonizing over the decision before I even tell them.

But I try to be everywhere, I try to make it work. I've switched jobs and continue to work toward financial stability WITH flexible times so I can be Mom and still support us. I feel like I'm not doing a very good job of either. This is where I realized that I've won the battle of organization - seriously, you should see our "family command center" and my work area is insanely organized if you ignore my smattering of toys and trinkets from the kids - but I'm still losing the war as my life balance is woefully out of whack.

I rarely take time for myself - because I can't afford to in any way, shape, or form. I look at my life and see that I always come last. Kids first, then work and by the time that's all done I've got nothing left. All the while I worry about making ends meet so I find a way to write just one more article because that $5-$15 will help. I have to write a lot of words to make enough to support my family and that takes time. But, I can write at 2am when it's quiet, homework is done, practices are complete, musicals have been attended, laundry and dishes are done and the only thing I missing out on is sleep. Who cares if I'm not sleeping? Exercise? How can I justify walking for half an hour when that means another $30 or so in articles or blog posts? If I have to choose, I choose the money because that's what you do when you're in debt and trying to pay for a place you really can't afford (so your kids can stay in a school system that really works for them) and their activities and supplies and clothes (so they don't feel the impact of how poor you really are). Meanwhile my life is passing by at a startling pace as I approach my 38th birthday and realize that I'm almost 40.  I keep promising myself that I'll take time for me, that I'll get to the point where I can do something simple like curl up in a chair and read for as long as I like with no regrets.

I'm just not there yet.

In the meantime, I'll load up the coffee pot (brew set to extra strength) with Deathwish Coffee, don my ill-fitting mom clothes, and trudge through this battlefield. Maybe if I can win one more battle it will turn the tide of the war.

Who's with me?