Ah, the joys of a lazy summer afternoon, you know, those days when you have nothing to do, nowhere to go and you just sit in the backyard listening to the rustle of the trees and the birds that fly by?
Uh huh. Me neither.
Today, for the three hundredth and sixtieth some odd day in a row, I woke up with my head spinning. I was thinking about all the things I needed to accomplish, all the things I'm supposed to get done every day, plus all those things I didn't get to yesterday (or the day before that) and are now on today's list.
There are errands to be run, a mother in a nursing home to visit, bills to be paid, meals to be cooked, laundry to be washed and dried, folded and put away, beds to be made, kids to be driven around, tended to, disciplined, loved, and listened to, client deadlines to meet, blog posts to be composed and publicized, comments to be made and answered. And so much more.
The list is long.
And I never get to it all.
I wonder about this a lot.
I see other people who manage to get it all done. They're at the beach, toes in the sand or at the salon getting a massage. They're on Facebook discussing their latest shopping adventure, tennis match or ladies who lunch date.
What's wrong with me?
I delegate. Buy take out, I call in carpool favors and tell the kids, "later", but why is it that there are never enough hours in my day?
Do I take on too much, prioritize poorly? Am I just a giant time waster?
In 24 hours I should have enough time to meditate, walk, swim and read. I should have a free evening to go out with my girlfriends a lot more often than I do. I should be open to entertain a few times a month. I should be able to do my nails and sing, knit, learn to crochet, and stare at the sunset with my husband.
I have a book in my head. Did you know that? It's basically written.
Just not on paper.
That would take time.
Time I can never seem to find.
Over the past few months I started beating myself up over my (apparently) very poor time management skills. It must be the reason that I cannot accomplish anything, I told myself. I was sure of it.
So I made a schedule and I started to follow it.
Day one. All is well...until the school nurse calls and tells me that my daughter is sick. Fever, come get her.
Ok. I go. I sign her out and then stop at the store to pick up ginger ale and saltines. Once home, I make a cup of broth, put it on a tray with the soda and crackers and a towel, so there are no crumbs, help her into pjs and tuck her into bed, when snack is done.
While she is resting, I peek at my now defunct schedule and realize that I need to cancel a voice lesson she has later in the evening. When the correspondence required to explain her absence and reschedule the lesson is complete, it's time to pick up kid number two from school.
The afternoon is a blur of snack, homework, cool washcloths and ginger ale refills.
Cold, with a bendy straw and no ice.
After dinner I think I may get a few minutes to cross some items off my list, since the schedule is shot, but I don't get much accomplished before I have to drive up to the nursing home to see my mom. It's after 8pm when I walk in the door and check on my sick baby, who wants me to lay down with her for awhile.
I crawl into bed sometime after 2am.
I would like to say that days like this are not the norm, but they are. After one gets well, the others in the house get sick. There's extra laundry, doctor visits, you get the gist. Even on days when everyone is well, there are unexpected award ceremonies or parent meetings. There are forgotten books and lunches, projects, college applications, financial aid deadlines, impromptu shopping trips, outings and responsibilities that come along with raising active and involved children, schedule or no.
Then the phone rings with calls from the nursing home. There are doctors and nurses with reports, lawyers dealing with sales and applications for her care. Siblings who need to discuss a myriad of situations. Her friends reach out and want to know how she is, where she is, can we visit and can you meet us up there?
The more I paid attention to my days, the more I realized, I am not a time waster. I am not a bad scheduler. I am not irresponsible with regard to the clock.
What I am is sandwiched.
I am stuck between two generations that require my attention, my care, my time..and frankly, there are just not enough hours in the day to tend to them all.
Something's gotta give.
And let's face it, it's me.
Is there a solution?
I don't think so. Not one that I would be happy about. I mean, what would I cut out? Or more accurately stated who would I cut out?
No. I am a mom and daughter, just like many, many other moms and daughters, who belong to this crazy generation of dual ~ or triple if you add the grands ~ caregiving. There are tons of us and it is not an easy road, despite all the magazine articles, stating that it could be if we just followed their advice and made ourselves a priority, delegated tasks and learned how to say no.
So when the nursing home calls me at the nail salon, where "I am making myself a priority", and says that my mom is suddenly having a health issue and then the school calls and tells me that my daughter just got hit in face with a volleyball, and is bleeding profusely from her broken nose, and delegating the care of either one of these people is impossible, exactly who am I saying no to?
Can the magazine editor tell me that, because believe it or not this was a real situation and nothing I have ever read in any one of those articles was going to help me.
Or make these kinds of situations easier to manage.
As clichéd as it sounds I guess the answer is to go with the flow, just relax, make time for some fun stuff even if it's at the expense of an unmade bed.
I need to accept and understand that this is where I am in my life and short of moving far away from people I desperately love, I will do what I can, when I can, forget the schedules and stop trying to managing time.
Better people than me have tried and failed.
Of course, advice like that does not sell magazines.
But it's real.
And straight from the middle of the sandwich.
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