When I look at this photo of me and my family, I see a small, blonde, little girl who’s missing her two front teeth under her crooked semi-smile (I also see my badass bangs/haircut–I’ll address my funky childhood haircuts later). This picture was taken in my backyard during the mid-70s, when big collars and plaid were all the rage. I was probably close to 6 years-old here. (I remember hating that mustard-colored shirt.) This was during a time in my life when my parents were very busy both personally and in the community: they were members of the Jaycees, bowled on local bowling leagues a few times a week, played softball with friends, and my dad traveled quite a bit as the VP of a construction company. They left us home with a babysitter or alone…a lot!
I cling to memories of camping trips with my family, Sunday nights in front of the The Wonderful World of Disney, and careless summer days playing in the gutter outside of my home. I think I remember those times the most, because they were when my family was together and good-times were soaked up in the sun or on the ski slopes. Family time was somewhat rare, from what I remember. It’s because of this that I made a commitment to be very present in my kids lives.
A few years after this photo was taken, I began taking gymnastics classes at a local High School and soon began living at the gym 4-5 nights a week. The introduction of the “overpacked schedule” entered my life. From that point on, I was always busy. Gymnastics took up most of my pre-teen free time, and softball began the summer I turned 9. As I began to grow, and out grow gymnastics, I added cheerleading and volleyball to my schedule. I often wonder why I took on so many activities when I was young and should have been hanging out with friends in the neighborhood. Perhaps I was running from something (I’m sure that had something to do with it) or perhaps I enjoyed accomplishing things on my own and getting recognition for working hard. Whatever the case, this busy behavior has continued into my 20s, 30s, and now my 40s.
Is that a dangerous way to live: over scheduled and running all the time? My parents were busy doing their things all the time, and I longed for family time. Are my kids doing the same? My kids schedules are what keep us away from the house, but we’re still away.
I started pondering all of this yesterday. When I have too much idle time, I get a bit manic and over examine all parts of my life. For example: yesterday I had most of the day to myself, as my husband worked and my kids were at their dads. As I sat there folding laundry and watching a movie where the people lived by the beach and lived a slower paced life, it was like a huge mound of bricks hit me all at once, and many, many questions ran through my head: Where am I going? What am I working for? Where is my life taking me? Am I doing enough? Am I accomplishing enough? Am I teaching my kids enough? AM I ENOUGH?
Why am I asking myself these questions? Am I comparing myself to someone else? No, not that I know of. Am I expecting more out of myself? Could be. Do I feel “happy” in my life? That’s a difficult one to answer. Am I happy? Yes! Am I happy with my life? I think there’s definitely room to improve. Let me explain…I wake up, go to work, rush home, run kids around, feed the family, try to help with homework, get everyone to bed and do it all over again. Weekends are either filled with 8 kids and their things, or it’s catch-up on “us” time for me and Brandon. I feel like my life is living me, not the other way around. I debated with myself for a long time yesterday whether I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis or just having a pity party. I haven’t decided which one it was, but I need to kick myself in the ass and buck up!
I know the joy is in the journey, and I absolutely and fully admit I’m definitely a girl that forgets to embrace each day and live it to it’s fullest. (I’m that girl who saved outfits for “special occasions” and the good towels for guests only). Capricorns are natural goal setters. That’s what I do. I set goals and work towards them. The problem with that type of thinking is that I’m missing the sweet, luscious blessings right beneath my nose! My husband is much the opposite of that. He lives each day the best way he can. He doesn’t get caught up in the planning, scheduling and over thinking. I wish I were more like him.
In 2014, I resolve to slow it down a bit. To not be so over-committed that I practically kill myself getting everyone to every little practice, activity or training. It will be okay if we have to skip a few. I run a household of 10 alone 75% of the time because of Brandon’s schedule. I can only do the best I can. I resolve to forget the criticizing words of my mother and my ex husband and know that I am amazing just for being me. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do it all alone. I don’t have to always be in motion or achieving. Sometimes, it’s okay for me to just…be.