A fine balance

“I haven’t screwed up this big in awhile.”

That’s the Facebook status I posted on Saturday morning.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’d been away from home on business travel for six days.  I woke up early on Saturday because, although I wasn’t on eastern time the entire week I was on the east coast, it seems I was when I returned home!  The house was quiet so I thought I’d get cozy on the couch with a new book I’d begun on the plane and wait for the girls to start stirring. I made the mistake of checking my email, where I got some disconcerting news. That resulted in my spending an hour on the phone with my sister, then a conversation with my husband.  I made the girls breakfast, thumbed through Sunset magazine, distractedly surfed the web, and then checked my calendar to realize my girls had missed their soccer playoff game.

That’s right, when I checked the calendar on my phone before going to bed, I noted that the game was at 2:30pm, which made me happy we could have a leisurely Saturday morning. But the game was actually at 11:30am PT. Girls crying, angry coaches….

At what point do you just throw in the towel?  And by throw in the towel I mean admit that things aren’t operating very smoothly and some adjustments need to be made.

Is it when your children eat school hot lunch for a week because mom is traveling and dad is trying to be two parents for a week?

Or when big sister has to babysit three nights in a row because you’re attending school meetings?

How about when your 9 year old asks how much money you earn, followed up by “because if you’re going to miss another holiday I think you should quit your job.”

Is it when you celebrate your wedding anniversary two weeks late because you celebrated your child’s birthday on your anniversary because you had a business trip on your child’s birthday?

What about when the back seat of your car resembles a dressing room at Old Navy, with inside out jeans and balled up socks strewn about as a result of costume changes en route to swim team or soccer practice?

Or when the school librarian won’t allow your child to check out a book because she doesn’t know “it will come back”?

Too many take-out dinners? Baskets mounded high with unfolded laundry in the dining room? You realize you’re constantly telling your children to “rush, rush, hurry up”?

I don’t know exactly where the breaking point is, but my husband and I mutually came to the decision about a week ago that we’ve reached it.  We’re not sure yet how we’re going to resolve this.  It’s hard to get out of a rut.  And we’re considering some professional opportunities that may make our schedules even tighter in the near-term, with the hopes of more flexibility in the future. But somewhere within the framework of school and family time and children’s activities and demanding jobs, the scales have tipped a little too far and we need to bring it back to center. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we can do it.  Any tips?

“You see, we cannot draw lines and compartments and refuse to budge beyond them. Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.’ He paused, considering what he had just said. ‘Yes’, he repeated. ‘In the end, it’s all a question of balance.”
― Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance 

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One Response to A fine balance

  1. I have no tips. But loads of sympathy. Sometimes a near death experience helps to re-prioritize but I hope it doesn’t come to that.
    Without any judgement I would say you are getting some pretty strong signals that things need to shift. I can’t imagine being in your shoes but maybe it is time to make some life altering decisions. The kids won’t be there forever. best… wendy

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