Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Weight of it All
I am "trying" to get myself into a routine of getting up at 5 AM so that I can have some time to be on the computer to write this blog, catch up on email, manage/post pictures, etc. It is "my time." As I write this I realize that am quite protective of "my time" and that, in my head, "my time" is from 5 to 7 AM. Which helps to make sense of why I tend to get frustrated when one of our children wake up before 7 AM.
"Doesn't she realize that this is my time and that it is important for me to have my time?" I can hear myself protesting. "There is so much I need to get done. So many things that I have to take care of! And if I don't reply to all those people then <enter catastrophic scenario here>!" With this running in my head, it is no wonder I get so ticked off when Mary Jane comes up stairs rubbing her eyes and squinting against the light...at 6:15 AM. Of course, the fact that she is crying and calling for mommy (who is at the pool for a swim work out) doesn't help. Nor does the fact that she doesn't want me to even look at, let alone console her.
If I am honest with myself, I can see that the truth is I am not upset with my daughter. I am upset with myself. I am upset with myself for staying up too late, again; for using "my time" to manage pictures this morning rather than to write; for continuing in this pattern of just doing any the things on my to do list rather than purposefully choosing what I am going to do with the time I have. Of course, being this honest with myself also means that I am putting responsibility for how I spend my time on...me.
"Whoa there, tiger. Let's not get crazy now…" says the voice in my head. Wow! I really do not want that responsibility! As I write this I can literally feel myself squirming inside trying to find a way out of taking responsibility. This points to another, larger issue: that I have a big fat "NO!" to my limits! Apparently, I hold a belief that I "should not" have limitations. I "should" be able to function on five hours of sleep. I "should" be able to stay mentally and emotionally clear at all times. I "should" be able to make the right decision about how to respond to my children/wife/friends/etc. at all times. I "should" be able to keep up on email. I "should"… And the reality is that I do have limits and these limits are different as a full-time dad than they were when I worked outside our home. My heart is racing. This is a big one for me. What I am seeing is that when I refuse to accept my limitations I do not allow myself to be present in the moment. And so I do not get to have what is happening right now. Today is a wonderful example.
It was a full day. We met up with my friend Darin and his son Ethan for daddy-kiddo day today at Como Zoo. The zoo was a hit, no question. Getting ready to go to the zoo was a challenge on several fronts including that Mary Jane woke up at 6:15 AM…45 minutes "early." Hearing Mary Jane cry for mommy at 6:15 AM was a reality I was unwilling to accept and so a seed of frustration was planted. And then Rebekah woke up at about 7:15 AM which is at least 30 minutes earlier than usual...with a leaking poo and pee filled diaper. So now her bedding needed to be changed and washed along with the other four loads of laundry. Did I mention that our washing machine is broken? Yeah, I have to manually switch it from cycle to cycle. As I changed Rebekah, and tried to keep her from touching her pee and poo soaked jammies, I was thinking about the list of things I "needed" to get done today: feed me and MJ, feed Rebekah, start laundry, make and pack lunch, do laundry, go to the zoo, do laundry, have rest/nap time, do laundry, reply to people I've meant to reply to for several days, do laundry...and my frustration built. By the time we got back from the zoo Mary Jane and I had had several little battles including one that ended in a time out right after we got back home. "Finally," Rebekah was asleep and, quite atypically, Mary Jane fell asleep watching her rest-time movie. So I sat for a little while and then did a couple things. I was just about to watch a documentary I'd been wanting to see when Mary Jane woke up crying. I picked her up and sat on the couch with her...and she fell back asleep. So there I sat on the couch, holding Mary Jane...and thinking about all of the things I could be doing, if I weren't trapped under this sleeping child.
I could feel the full weight of my 3 1/2 year-old sleeping on me. I could hear her soft breath and feel her peacefulness as she slept in her daddy's arms. That's when it hit me: this is why I am here. All that other stuff is secondary right now. I am here, at home, to be with and support my children. And I have been missing it. Being "trapped" under the weight of my sleeping preschooler gave me freedom to remember what is most important to me and to choose to be present in that moment.
What if I choose to see all my limits as revolutionaries? As freedom fighters whose goal is to set me free? What would that change in perspective do to the quality of my life? Perhaps this the year for me to find out!