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Challenge: Life Changes

You can have it all just not on the same day

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It was Sunday evening, I took a deep breath and reviewed the week ahead courtesy of my four google calendars all somewhat harmoniously synced on a 6-inch screen. Relief washed over me as I realized I actually had some space on the calendar this week. No, not enough to go to yoga, take a nap, or a long bath with Enya playing in the background. Yet I had enough to eat lunch every day, actually do (some of) the work needed to run two businesses, and maybe even take a few 5-minute stretch breaks on the exercise ball that I am committed to doing daily( yet haven’t done more than twice for at least 8 weeks. ) It had been a few weeks since my calendar had any open space. I know I was supposed to be grateful for two busy businesses. I was of course, but I was also so tired that I couldn’t remember the last time I had been anything but sooooo tired. For the first time in a few weeks, I slept well on a Sunday night.

Monday started off perfectly. I had planned to put the final touches on a new professional development workshop I was presenting the next evening. I decided to take one the last check of my email before I dove into the workshop and saw a coupon code for a favorite clothing store. I then remembered that we had my niece’s bat mitzvah in 6 weeks and I needed some new clothes for a few different events. I then, lamented about how nothing fit. I then reminded myself that while it was still a journey this was the year of embracing my body size and yep that included the mid 40’s, autoimmune disordered, pre-menopausal, Mom of a child with a year of never-ending chronic health issues-body that I was still doing my best to get used to. So I truly did need new clothes. So I let it go. All of it. The to-do list and the plan. I let my ADHD brain go wild and peruse the virtual aisles and aisles of clothes. I did, however, set a timer at some point, or who knows how many days may have passed before I realized I forgot to work. I don’t let my brain do its thing so much lately unless it’s late at night when I’m supposed to be asleep. I needed this time and space. I had been pushing myself so hard lately. Six weeks ago I spent 8 days in the hospital with my 14-year-old with treatment-resistant migraine. I managed to do a little bit of work there and consolidate my therapy clients to one day each week that my husband covered (before he got injured skiing and could no longer walk while I was STILL in the hospital with our child, yep that is another blog!) I still had to let so much else go. This set me up for never-ending weeks of playing catch up, using my power of hyper-focus to push and push and push until things were done enough to close my computer for the night my head still swirling with to-do lists.

When the timer went off. I closed the tab and got ready to get down to work. For the first time in a long time, hyper focus— and the intrinsic motivation that comes along with knowing I didn’t leave myself much time (ok yes this is exactly the same thing as procrastinating) didn’t cut it. I just couldn’t seem to wrap my head around this presentation. It took way longer than I ever could have estimated. I kept getting stuck on the graphics, the slide deck color palette, and how I couldn’t remember how to cite a source on the slide the way I had last time… My ADHD brain no longer had superpowers, instead, it was as if the evil villain side of this disability was making itself known. I was focusing on all the trivial things and being as inefficient as possible.

I worked until the very last second before I had to go pick up Kai who started at a private school with no bussing earlier this year. We did the chiropractor, I dropped Kai off to dance, came home, and got back to work. Moving at a frustratingly slow pace for my usually quick-processing, creative brain I chugged along until I could no longer keep my eyes open. I went to sleep with a very aesthetically pleasing slide deck and was not totally sure if any of the slides had any actual useable content on them. Knowing the presentation still needed to be tweaked Tuesday, set me up to be behind on a different project due on Wednesday. Instead of my week of 5-minute stretch breaks, I had late nights and early mornings trying to jam everything in.

Ok, I’ll stop rambling and won’t keep you in suspense any longer. I got the presentation done. It was either one of the best workshops I’ve ever written and presented or total crap, I’ll find out when the evals come in :) Yes, that’s where my RSD (rejective sensitive dysphoria, if you don’t know what this is look it up it’s so common with ADHD) anxious brain, and imposter syndrome often go when I feel off professionally in a setting I am usually confident in!

When my husband asked how the presentation went, I threw my hands up and said the above statement. He looked at me knowingly and laughed, finally learning after almost 19 years of marriage not to try to talk me out of a mood I need to be in. I then looked at him and said, “this isn’t working. I’m trying to squeeze a 8-10 hour work day into 9-3:20pm, so that I can pick up Kai, do dance drop off, take Ruby for an allergy shot, take Kai to the chiropractor 3 times a week for migraines, take the kids to the orthodontist, pick them up from an after school club… and the list is endless. Maybe I need to eliminate the drop-off and pick-up for Kai? Maybe I need to look for help after school for all of the activities? Maybe I need more hours to run two successful businesses. Maybe, I should cut back on work. Maybe I should set up more realistic revenue goals.

Here is the problem. I don’t want someone else to pick them up, I don’t want someone else to drive them around. I have two teenagers ages 14 and 16. Every moment they are willing to talk to me, beyond asking for money or rides, is precious. I spend so much time worried, frustrated and let’s be honest annoyed by them I don’t want to give up the pleasantries I sometimes am lucky enough to get after school or on the way to dance. This is the time I actually like them (remember, “I Love My Kids But I Don’t Always Like Them!, it’s my book-google it!) Then there is my 10-year-old, my baby. He still likes me, like really likes me. He doesn’t hide from me up in his room yet. His little cute face still lights up when he comes through the door every afternoon. Though I am not fooled. I have been through this two other times, and I can see him making his slow slip into tweendom and I know one day I’ll blink and he will join his two siblings in just tolerating me.

Then there is the second problem- I don’t want to work less. Not one minute less. I love my work. It is important. It is challenging. It is creative. It changes lives, it changes my life. It’s incredibly satisfying. It pays some of the bills and I enjoy paying my bills on time. I don’t want to change my goals, do less, offer less or do anything less.”

This all fell out of my mouth in a cascade of questions I didn’t expect anyone, to be able to answer. Yet, my husband looked at me and with his engineer, logical, mathematical view of the world, said, “I think it’s about taking turns. It’s about balance. You can do both. But they need to take turns. Some days you drive around the kids and do less work and some of the days someone else drives around the kids and you get more work done.”

And there you have it folks, the closest that I’ve gotten to anyone explaining to me how women can have it all, and it came from a MAN!! (Do me a favor and if you see him, don’t tell him I think he was right.)

You too can have it all, just not on the same day.

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