Friday, August 14, 2015
Striking a balance.
After nine long weeks, the boys are heading home this weekend. I haven't seen them since July 6th, and although there have been Skype dates and iPhone photos exchanged, it's not the same. I've forgotten what it's like to get wrapped up in one of Mario's bear hugs (he hugs all of me and I feel so loved in those moments) or Kiddo's pecks on the cheek followed by his trademark "I luuuurrrv you, Mom".
Friday marks a whole month at The Job, and by month's end I'll be out of my 45-day probationary period, which means they have to keep me. And despite being out of the workforce for the better part of a decade, employment suits me. I like having something to anchor my day to; a purpose outside of the home. I won't lie: it's going to get tough. I've not had a family to contend with and schedules to coordinate since June. My wants and needs have come first. Boy, did I need that. I've been needing a break like this for, well, ever. My life has been defined by my roles and for once, it was about me. For much of my life I would have felt too guilty and selfish to take all this time to myself, but I've evolved emotionally and come realize I make a miserable martyr and it's time to stop saying yes to everyone else and no to myself so darn much.
Truth be told, I love being alone. Like, really love it. Solitude suits me. But I have come to understand that, contrary to my nature, I love having those boys in my life so much more. They are the yin to my yang and living proof that I've done good things on this earth. Mothering that boy and marrying that man are my greatest accomplishments. I appreciate some regular alone time, but I don't ever want to live life without them by my side. So while this was an awesome opportunity to get acclimated to full time employment and center my chi, it was always in preparation for making our lives together that much better.
For the first time since graduating (two years ago!?!), I feel like the future is within my grasp. Enduring that lengthy, ego-crushing job search caused me to falter for a bit. I began to negotiate for something less than I deserved (and wanted). It took time, but I absolutely scored the best job for where I'm at and what I need to take the next step. For the first time in ages, I have a pretty good timeline for taking the GREs (and studying for them), getting my application in tip-top shape, and applying to grad school. I even have a Plan B should I not make it in the first cycle. I'm not wringing my hands and fretting and trying to figure out what else could make me happy-ish. Because there is no need. As always, things are falling into place on their own time.
Life alone has been interesting. I go through spurts of keeping the house spotless and then failing to empty the dishwasher for five days. Late last week I mustered up enough energy after a 10-hour shift to make ground taco meat and microwave a can of refried beans, then proceeded to eat nachos for dinner every night for four days. After a hankering for Chinese, I picked up takeout after work and have had it for lunch and dinner the last four days (not including breakfast this morning whereby I polished off the General Tso's Chicken). I've managed to brown bag it every shift I've worked, a fact of which I'm quite proud, though more often than not it's nothing fancier than a simple sandwich, baby carrots and some Triscuits. An organizational and healthy eating victory nonetheless. (Our breaks are short so my only other option is the dreaded hospital cafeteria.) My plant collection grew quite a bit this summer, and I genuinely enjoyed conducting a first of the month cactus and succulent soaking. I decided to plant a container garden on the back porch with tomatoes, peppers, chives and basil, and have come to cherish the moments spent each night barefoot with a watering can tending to them. I think, more than anything, I crave the simplicity of these last couple months. Marriage and motherhood require compromise, of course, but the lack of bickering and cajoling (Put on your pants! Let's GO already!) is so lovely. Single life, though occasionally lonely, has been rather tranquil. I'm not sure I knew what that felt like before now.
There are many things that can be done to make a family unit run more smoothly. Meal planning, schedules on the fridge, budgeting, sitting down to family dinner sans electronics, standing date nights ... just a few of the plethora of tactics one can employ when aspiring toward a more organized (family) life. But inevitably there are squabbles and pushed buttons and Do your homework!s and Husbands who thrash in their sleep when work is stressful. So how does one go about tempering these frustrations when aiming to create a more zen home? How can you prevent a coveted week day off from being invaded by errands and orthodontist appointments and bill paying? Is it even possible?
A popular trend among members of the blogosphere is to choose a word for the year. I've never actually declared a word, it's simply not my thing, but as I write this I realize the word Balance has dominated my thoughts and intentions a lot over the past few years. You see, in order to fill my bucket, I always thought my life should be divided into three equally important and distinct sections: Wifehood, Motherhood, and Careerhood. I really struggle to figure out how to give each part of my life the individual attention it needs to thrive without sacrificing the success of another.
I've come to realize that, for the better part of my adult life, I have been grossly overlooking perhaps the most important facet of all: Me. The Sarah sans husband, son and career; the woman with hopes and dreams of her very own. The Sarah that likes to camp out in the corner of a coffee shop and write. The Sarah that likes to tend to plant life and watch documentaries about the ocean and its occupants. The Sarah that wants sushi when she wants sushi and can't be talked out of it. The Sarah that doesn't want to spend yet another Friday night watching things that originated from a comic book character. The Sarah that occasionally sacrifices a whole day to lay on the couch in her pajamas with raging bedhead but doesn't want anyone to know about it.
If trying to balance three life-fulfilling aspects of a person is hard, surely four must be nearly impossible, right? I hope not. Unfortunately, I'm not a person who feels settled so readily, and as such it is my lot in life to have several balls in the air. A balancing act brought on by my fastidious nature. It sounds like a lot, trying to do it all (Hollywood has taught us this doesn't end well), but I've learned the hard way that neglecting one or more of these roles, or letting the balance shift for extended periods (see my many posts contemplating the 10+ years spent chasing Mario's career goals) leads to a domino effect of malaise.
I'm in a really good place. The best in my life thus far. A year later, I'm still enchanted by the Pacific Northwest. I'm challenged by my job, sometimes terrified by it, but I love it just the same. I'm learning so much about the world of healthcare, and myself in the process. Kiddo is settled into school and Husband into his position at work. I'm on the brink of getting everything I have ever wanted, while living with the assurance that I can achieve every single thing I set my mind to. The proof is in the pudding. (Job perk: hospitals have the best chocolate pudding.) I have this rare and wonderful husband who cares as much about my happiness as he does his own. That glorious kid I gave birth to all those years ago? He's a beautiful amalgam of wit and charm and brilliance. He has the face of an angel and a heart of gold. He's a pain in the ass, but he's my pain in the ass, and I wouldn't sacrifice a single second spent being his mom.
At the end of the day, I do like flying solo. I'm perfectly content to try that new noodle restaurant and eat alone perched at the counter. I enjoy wandering through antique stores and undiscovered neighborhoods whenever I feel like it. But when twilight falls, I want to kiss Kiddo's sleeping forehead and watch a pre-bedtime crime drama curled up on the couch with that spectacular man of mine. Their mere existence makes life exponentially better.
It has been a looong road, but I've learned that you CAN have it all, if you want it bad enough.