I wrote a long post yesterday. It started out like this:
I am anxious.
The post was largely about the upcoming Thanksgiving trip the twins and I are taking to see John's parents, brother, and sister in Michigan. These trips always make me anxious, but it's difficult for me to write about my complicated feelings around John's family and our interactions in a way that is honest but also honors them. I love them and care about them and value that they are a part of our lives. It's also true that it's a complex, complicated relationship we have, and that part of it is anxiety-inducing to me. I'm trying to focus on the good things that always come from those trips, most notably the joy that Maddie and Riley bring to John's family. It's palpable.
I'm going to leave that at that.
The trip, however, is not the only thing making me anxious. I am generally anxious about all kinds of things. It feels awful.
Most of the time, I pretend that I am fine. I do not make the time to acknowledge that I might be anything other than OK. And really, most of the time I am fine and my life is full to bursting with people I love and things I enjoy; it's too much of a good thing for the most part.
Lately, though, it's just too much. This is cyclical. I'll hum along for a while, then get off track and feel totally overwhelmed, then things will get righted and I'll be OK. I've noticed, though, that after seven years of having full responsibility for various permutations of dying spouse, children, work, and home, the periods of feeling overwhelmed become longer and deeper each time.
I've gotten way better over the years and finding ways to share the burden of responsibility I carry: I pay someone to clean my house, my family helps with the kids, we have an amazing network of supportive friends, having an au pair is life-changing.
And yet. I confess that I still feel overwhelmed. As Maddie and Riley get older, I feel increasingly disconnected from their lives, which is the most disturbing aspect of all of this. I want more presence in their lives in a way I've never wanted that before; that started in kindergarten. I want to pick them up. I want to chaperone school field trips. I want to take them to swim lessons.
Plenty of parents want this, though, so I feel like whiner when I complain about it. I've chosen a certain lifestyle for us that is based upon the fact that I have a job. Could I make a drastic change? Sure. Maybe I should consider it. For now, the idea of considering it feels overwhelming and time consuming. Gah.
I am in a fantastic, delightful relationship, which for the most part is a positive. It makes me a better, more centered person and parent, and I feel happy when we are together. But it takes time, too, sometimes time that I could be with the kids, or time when I could be doing things around my house or doing work or seeing other friends or reading or . . . well, anything. And I don't regret any of that time, but it's time.
Time, time, time. There's never enough of it to do the things you want to do, but lately I feel so crushed by there not even being enough to do the things I need to do. I am not telling anyone anything new here. What I wonder is this: Does everyone else feel like I do, that the solutions available are not truly helpful? It reminds me of simple tips to financial freedom! The oft-repeated advice about how if you put your $5/day latte money into a savings account, soon you'll have a huge nest egg! I KNOW. I'm already doing those kinds of things, both financially and time-wise. I outsource stuff. I've lowered my standards, I have a slow-cooker, we have cereal for dinner sometimes, I ask for help and accept it when it's offered, I exercise. I'm doing all that stuff and I'm still drowning, and I still don't see my kids enough.
I'm in a bit of a state. It will pass. Maybe being away will help. Maybe some of you have tips? Real tips? Not latte money tips? Tales of radical change? Tales of small change that felt radical? Virtual hugs?