Ramblings of a Tightrope Walker
metaphors. A dear friend said something that stuck with me this week. She said, "Some people are circuses and some are museums." Even though I try to deny it, my life is a circus; honestly, I prefer the chaos to the quiet control. This "Working Mom" season of life feels like a circus where I am the star performer. Are you with me, my fellow Working Moms? Our jobs, our kids, our kids' activities, our husbands, our friends, our laundry (I'm even stressed out about the order in which I listed those)--we've got all of these fragile, precious, much-loved balls to juggle (okay, maybe not the laundry). Then we ratchet our juggling act up a notch and take it to the high wire; we juggle our family, our career, our everything, while balancing on the wire of society's expectations. As if it's not enough to be juggler, we walk that Working Mom tightrope, suspended high above the heads of people, watching to see if we are going to screw it all up--if we are going to let it all crash to the ground.
Call me crazy, but this is how I feel, and I don't think I'm alone. A feeling of disequilibrium came over me when I woke up this morning and realized that it is November, which jostled my tightrope and made me stumble a bit. This post is a way to regain my balance. This post is a wake-up call to get off the freakin' tightrope.
I am so focused on keeping my precious balls in the air while walking this high wire of life that I don't notice the days that become months that zoom by in the blink of an eye below me. Honestly, it freaks me out to think how fast it is all going. Barbie is going to graduate from college in a year (A YEAR!). Landry will be twelve this month (TWELVE!). Peyton won't fit in my lap anymore (MY BABY!). I try to be intentional with my time--to make each moment count--to make more time for people and relationships rather than for the "stuff," but still--the days keep flying by, and really, time just becomes another ball to juggle--another ball to add to the balancing act.
Writing and reading (they are one in the same to me) keep me sane in this circus that I call life. Writing/reading is my way to BE STILL and reflect, relish, and recharge so that I can keep moving forward, inch by inch, while the world whizzes by below me. Even though writing/reading is one more ball to juggle, and might seem like just a "hobby" to some, writing/reading actually makes my juggling act possible. I've realized that when I don't make the time to write/read, then I become cranky. I become frazzled. I become a person that I don't like very much. When you don't like yourself, it's hard to like others.
But Guilt (its prevalence makes it a proper noun), pervades the life of tightrope walkers like me. Guilt nags at us when we give attention to a "ball" that is all about US. Guilt shakes our tightrope when we make time for a "ball" that brings us joy. Guilt whispers lies in our ears when we focus on ourselves. Moms aren't supposed to be selfish. Our society scoffs at selfish moms--especially when they are on the tightrope for all to see.
That's why November 1st brings another shake of Guilt to my tightrope. November is NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's no secret to those who know me that I am writing a novel. I discovered this event last year and participated the best I could; I added "Write Your Novel" into the juggling act, which felt selfish. (I hear your evil whispers, Guilt.) I continued to struggle with this dream long after November ended, and I found my groove in the summer and wrote like my hair was on fire. Summer meant one less ball in the air (my job), so I was able to focus more attention on my writing. But then school started again, and the job ball got put back into the rotation. After some soul-searching and struggling that I've documented on this post, I committed myself to editing rather than finish the ending. I edited 32 pages in September and 117 pages in October. Rather than write a new novel in November, I will continue to edit the novel that I'm writing and work towards finishing it. I've GOT to finish this. This is my dream. This is my goal.
I refuse to feel Guilty for doing something that makes me happy. I don't think it's selfish to engage in my passion--to spend a little time doing something that makes me a better mom, wife, librarian, friend, and human. I wish that more Moms would embrace this. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.
It's all about balance, my friends. And that brings me back to our tightrope.
To my fellow tightrope walkers, let's get off the high wire; there's really no reason to be up there putting on a show. We can't quit the juggling act of motherhood because it comes with the territory; it's what we DO. We take all those precious balls in our hands, and we do the best we can. But we CAN get off the tightrope; we can stop worrying about what others think; we can stop feeling Guilty. About. Everything. Little.Thing. We can come back down to the steady ground and just focus on the balls in the air while life whizzes by around us. We don't need to make this juggling act harder than it already is. It is hard enough. Don't we know it.
This is why I am declaring November as NaMoMeMo: National Mom Me Month. This is the time for the Moms of the world to do something that is just for US. Let's write, read, sew, craft, run, walk, watch TV, drink wine with a friend, take bubble baths, order more pizza--let's do the things that make us happy. Let's do the things that make us feel ALIVE. Let's do the things that bring us back to ourselves--to our own identity as a person other than Someone's Mom. And let's STOP feeling Guilty about it.
Welcome, November. Welcome, NaMoMeMo. Welcome to my circus.
Now let's get to editing. We've got a novel to finish.