The last year has been a whirlwind for me, I jumped back into the working world (in one day!) and feel like I’ve been fighting to keep my balance, just trying to stay upright, ever since. I had an extra day off on our long weekend which provided me the luxury of having a whole day alone at home with my husband. We spent most of the day madly cleaning the house to ready it for our annual party but, more importantly, had the chance to sit and really talk to each other for the first time in many, many months.
With our work schedules being complete opposites we generally have about thirty minutes total to see each other between Sunday and Friday so meaningful conversation has been hard to come by. I realized how much I really miss our talks, how much I really miss him. Funny enough, it turns out that he misses me as well. The me that I used to be, the me that paid attention to him occasionally, the me that laughed, worked and lived with him. Whatever this is that I’ve been doing for the last 11 months isn’t living, it could only charitably be called surviving.
I’ve been trying to be so many people lately: cook, bottle-washer, wife, mother, employee, musician, that I’ve ended up failing miserably at all of them.
My children have subsided on meals of pickle & cheese or bologna sandwiches too often, my house constantly looks like a toy bomb went off, my sink is lost under a pile of dishes waiting to go into a dishwasher that needs to be emptied, and by the time I try to deal with all of this I’m too exhausted to play with my sons.
I know that there are amazing women in this world who pull off this intricate balancing act but, as it turns out, I’m not that good of a gymnast.
Maybe one day I’ll learn to pull off a Gainer back handspring without falling off the beam. I’ll be able to keep the house clean, kids entertained and work flowing with perfect poise but for now I need to concentrate on my boys, young and old. My husband actually used the words, “Quit your job and come back home full-time, we need you.” That simple sentence brought home the truth to me: they do need me but in reality, I need them more.
I need to be there for them when they come home from school. To really be there. Ready to be engrossed by their stories of the day, ready to give them my full attention instead of fitting them in around loads of laundry. I need to want to be there with them, instead of wanting a precious few moments to myself to make the mental switch between work and home.
I didn’t really notice until lately that over the winter my creativity level went wa-a-y down, I didn’t write a word and my musical enthusiasm (which is normally pretty epic!) fell so much that people were starting to worry. I missed more rehearsals this past year than I have in the past 15 years combined and for the first time ever I actually had to ask the conductor for a cue. When I made my request I literally had every member of this 80-piece band turn around and stare at me with their mouths hanging open, that’s how odd this was.
I basically stopped playing the piano that I love so much which made it a rather expensive shelf that required frequent dusting! As soon as my husband and I decided on our plan, I sat down and started playing. The music flowed out of me more easily than it had in a long, long time and I found myself smiling, genuinely happy while I played, even as I realized that my lovely piano is sadly out of tune.
It made me even more aware of how neglectful I’ve been to everyone and everything in my life. The piano can be easily repaired (mental note: call piano tuner!) and the children will recover quickly, even though I’m still working until school ends and nothing has really changed yet at home they can sense a return of hope, joy and peace in the house. They’ve been happier in the last week than I’ve seen them in quite some time, my husband is smiling and joking more and I am far more likely to break out in song.
It could be that for me, I’ll keep my balance best when I’m leaning heavily in the direction of my family. The love they have for me is the support I need to execute a perfect half-twist, double-tuck handspring dismount so I can stop worrying about balancing everything and concentrate on loving my family.