I am taking a break from my blogging hiatus because I’ve got a lot on my mind about over commitment and taking on too much. Since dropping off the blogging grid, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on serious issues such as purpose, parenting, how to live as a good example of my faith, and whether I really am TOO busy. On the writing front, I started a new novel, only to realize I’m not that excited about writing it after all. I’ve been toying with different ideas for my consulting business as well as for our gym, and I’ve hit a wall in several areas while experiencing breakthroughs in others. So, life as usual. How, oh how, can I tie this all together you ask? It’s what I am now calling the Summer Doggy Syndrome.
What is the Summer Doggy Syndrome you, quite rightly, ask? Well, that’s when you embark on a significant, life-altering change without much preparation, and soon realize that you’re completely unprepared for the series of events that results. Pretty much my general approach to life, but I didn’t realize how much it doesn’t work for me anymore until this summer. Here’s what happened:
There’s a lot of backstory here that is probably not too important, but the long and short of it is that despite our vow to never, ever, under any circumstances, have an au pair again, we got an au pair in December. And shortly after that, the dream of everybody being potty-trained was accomplished. Right on the tails of that was a short-lived pregnancy (mine, not the au pair’s) that wasn’t to be, but which made me realize that a puppy wasn’t the most disruptive thing that could happen, so we got a puppy. Then the au pair got an opportunity to chase her dream, at a time when our businesses were thriving and the puppy was turning into a REALLY BIG dog. And in the middle of this I had to put on the brakes and admit I had finally taken on too much.
For me, this is huge.
One of the ‘isms that I am recovering from is the need to take on more than your average human and do it faster, better, and with less complaining. I’m not alone in this, I know. Part of it is a neurotic need to continually prove my value, part of it is the drug-like numbness that comes from being too busy to just be, and part of it that it’s truly pleasurable to spend time doing what I’m good at than flailing around with what I don’t feel like I am. But it takes a lot for me to cry uncle.
And Ginger was just the final straw. I knew a breakdown was imminent because of all the unfinished projects I’d been leaving in my wake, and the strained relationships I was experiencing. More than ever this summer, I felt completely over burdened with great ideas that I just didn’t have time to execute. The frustration and feeling of missing out was incredibly stressful. I just kept feeling like this one thing was IT, and I HAD to do it, and I had to do it NOW. And if I only could, then everything else would fall into place. In my case, the everything else is all to do with my kids and family.
I’m not sure if you other moms out there can related, but I’ve got this gnawing, incessant drive to be ‘more’ with the kids. Do more with them. Build more memories, be more present, have more adventures, make sure we can send them to the best school, make sure they’re being good friends, and that they have nice friends, and that they’re not being inundated with toxic ideas. So much of what I want for my kids feels like it demands the two things I don’t have: More time and more money, so I invent more hamster wheels with the intent of creating more of both, only to result in more stress, more impatience, more resentments and more regret.
That’s hard to admit.
So here we were with all this STUFF on our plates in addition to a perfectly wonderful dog that everyone who met described as the sweetest dog ever. Except I just couldn’t. I couldn’t keep intervening when someone was playing too rough, or she kept eating my furniture, or having accidents. But how do you get rid of a dog once your kids have fallen in love with it? My stepson actually made a very good point to me when he said ‘you’re so worried about traumatizing the kids by giving away Ginger, but how much are they being traumatized if you and my dad are fighting in front of them all the time because you’re so stressed out?’
And I guess it’s that simple. If your means to the end are creating a different end, it’s time to hit pause, or even stop and reprioritize. I’m not making room in my reality FOR my reality. And that reality is that I need to go slower with less on my plate to do the important things well. It means that I need to guard my commitments fiercely and not take on another thing unless I have a plan to offload something else. For me, with so many moving plates, it means writing things down, and reprioritizing weekly. It means saying no to some opportunities and requests – even if I really want to do them – and trust that God will make a way and a time if I’m supposed to do them. It means relaxing in the now. It means getting more specific in my goals and plans, not less, even if the timeline needs to get stretched out. And sometimes it means saying goodbye to things that seemed like good ideas at the time.
So yes, we found a new home for Ginger. The woman who took her had been waiting for the perfect dog and had time and love to spare. And yes, the kids were really sad – especially Bisky and Noben. I told them that Ginger was our Summer Doggy and that some day we’d be ready for our Forever Doggy – but not yet. StopThatAiden is already lobbying for a turtle or a rabbit, but he can wait, I think. For now, our plates and hearts are full. We have welcomed a new au pair into our lives and are getting ready for the new routine of another school year. More change, more disruption, and more fun. More writing? Of course! I have some really exciting writing-related projects simmering, but am taking some time to decide what will come first and how it will contribute to the whole.
Over commitment, stress, and busy-ness are not just my problem, I know! I’d love to hear from you how you’re doing juggling everything!
On another note…now that the back to school season is here, maybe you have more time for reading? Grace Group is just waiting for you on Amazon! Check it out!