It's the end of the school year. Most parents are at their wit's end by this time year and I'm no different. So I'll start by saying that this is not an essay complaining about the end of the school year. I am simply mentioning it because for me right now this time of year is functioning as a metaphor for my life as a whole. Sometimes life feels overwhelming and while I don't want to turn into the constantly-complaining-snarky-mommy-life-blogger-human, life lately has felt like everything is just. so. much. It's so easy to fall into a dark state of overwhelm... so I want to put it out there that it’s ok to acknowledge that sometimes, even when your overall life is good and you are truly thankful, things sometimes are still just... hard.
My kids have had an amazing school year! They've grown in so many ways. They've expanded their horizons and found things they are passionate about and good at. I'm so proud that we have the resources to help them learn and grow and discover and that we can let them try things and encourage them to get better at them. But having the resources means a lot of WORK. My husband and I don't come from a whole lot financially, so we've worked hard for everything we have. And with the amazing-ness of kids discovering their unique talents comes a LOT of investment. Investment of time... driving, sitting through classes and activities. Investment of money... paying for classes, shopping for materials for activities, paying for the gas to get to classes. Emotional investment... encouraging kids when they might not feel like going, encouraging practice on the days when they don't feel like it, shoring them up when they don't feel good enough or when something might not go as expected. So this year was exciting... and challenging.
Work is ever present. I have the amazing ability to work mostly from home. Thankfully my situation has allowed me to balance both being a stay-at-home-mom and being an income generating human. I am ever thankful that this has been the case. I'm not gonna lie though, as amazing as my situation is... it's also HARD. When work is always arm's reach away, and in your backpack while you sit through swimming classes and at your finger tips while you check emails all weekend long... it makes the ability to mentally pull away from it almost impossible. My husband, like so many people, works a job he was not born to do. It keeps us stable, affords us many things and he is amazing at it, but between the long hours, the 90 minute commute each way and many, many other responsibilities, I know he is tired. So we are ever thankful for our work, but it’s also ok to acknowledge that we work really hard and it is not always easy to balance everything.
I've written in the past about being a part of the generation that is raising kids and caring for parents simultaneously. My parents live far away, so I am not directly responsible for their care, and I am so, so fortunate to have them both still here with us. This year has been a big year of transition both physically and emotionally for all of us. With that have come times of reflection and sifting through parts of our past that we haven’t always had the full capacity to revisit, but there have also been sweet, sweet moments of connection that I know we are very lucky to have. It takes a lot of RAM to process everything and it adds greatly to the feeling that there is a LOT on our plates. So there are amazing opportunities for connection, and there is also a ton of emotional drain that makes balance challenging.
So with all that and the day to day of living, learning, cleaning, keeping up and existing, this past year has been both phenomenal and painfully hard and I am just a little... tired.
But as I look around at it all, I am deeply thankful for so many things. Life is a constant push/pull of amazingness and sadness. So many things always exist at once. The trick is how to find the moments of sanity, joy and connection when it is so much easier to focus on the crazy, or the sad or the way you wish things weren't. And how do you maintain your health and your self when so much needs doing and your attention needs to be in so many places at once? There is no one way that works for everyone. For me I've let myself sleep a little extra whenever I can, I stopped drinking coffee and started getting exercise as much as I possibly can. I've given myself permission to take time for the things I love even as I am helping ramp up the time spent helping kids find their passions, and I do my best to turn off some channels here and there so I can focus, trusting that I'll get back to them when things calm down.
Most importantly, I try every day to take a minute and breath and really be thankful for the moment. I've been fully aware lately (too fully at times) of how fragile and precarious everything in life is and how quickly the moments come and go.
So I'm thankful for the just. so. much., but it doesn't mean that it isn't hard. Life isn't a straight line where you get to just be one thing or one way at any given time. It's a messy soup, and every moment has both comedy and tragedy built right in. And it’s ok to be thankful, but it's also ok to admit (and share!) that things are hard. It’s ok to stop chastising yourself for not being super-thankful-perky-grateful-happy every second of every day. That whole “there are children starving in Africa” mentality that so many of us were raised with is wonderful for overall perspective, but it’s also ok to say that things are hard in your own life right now and to ease up on yourself just a bit.
The big thing I keep coming back to is that no matter how things are going, it’s always your choice which aspects of your life-soup you give the most attention to. The most important thing is to pay attention.
Because before you know it, a time will come when the just. so. much. won't be there anymore. If you're not careful, you'll realize you focused too much on how hard everything was and you'll look back and wonder how in all the chaos you missed all the wonderful, precious moments.
@2018 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.