Too Many Irons in the Fire?

directionsI don’t know how I let ELEVEN days get away from me, without blogging. Oh, wait, I DO know:

  1. First week of teaching a class at my old college.
  2. Daughter number 1 moving back to Bellingham.
  3. Daughter number 2 working temporarily down at Pike Place Market and bumming rides from me (and her dad) while she figures out the buses and timing, etc.
  4. Daughter number 3 taking Driver’s Ed.
  5. Meetings FOUR evenings this week (including my very last curriculum night!).
  6. A professional organizer taking my writing cabin in hand (3 hours Wednesday morning, plus homework).
  7. A church committee (I know, “What was I thinking?”)
  8. The September Sendout of poems.
  9. My dh (dear husband or designated hitter) deciding to paint the entryway and hallway of our house.
  10. Mom’s seizure yesterday morning and appointment today with an ARNP.

I could list a few more, but I’ll stop there. And, anyway, the class is going swimmingly (and it’s easy-peasy, only two mornings a week); my daughters’ schedules are calming down (no evening meetings at all this coming week, and daughter #2 has mastered the art of the bus pass); plus, I have wisely put my September Sendout on the back burner for a few days.

A friend called me yesterday afternoon — we had made plans, because she had an errand to do regarding her mother’s recent death, and I wanted to be supportive. “I’m not as busy as you are,” she said. “And I’ve got this. You don’t need to come.” Had I not been juggling my mom’s needs, too, I would have gone anyway. But it felt a bit like divine intervention. We had a good talk on the phone, and then I turned my car toward the ferry, and I’m here now (in Allyn). A restful evening. Reading, watching some TV. A very small glass of wine. A much needed good-night’s-sleep.

What I’m thinking this morning, however, is that I do not have more to do than anyone else. ALL of us have too many irons in the fire. It’s become our way of life. A former student — now a friend — recently told me that she is writing some character sketches, pretty excited about the work, but she keeps asking herself, “Do I have time for this?” One could argue that my friend, the one who called yesterday afternoon has more time than the rest of us, and fewer excuses: she’s single, her children are young adults who are (theoretically) on their own. But I know that she has just as long a list of “stuff to do” as I have. Connections to be made, housework to keep up (and no dh to step in where needed), errands, meals to shop for, oh — and a job (that!), a commute five days a week, a car to keep maintained…well, we all know. My former student, the one with the character sketches? She cannot wait to write until her children leave home .

None of us have any time.

Perhaps I’ve told this story before, but when my older daughters were about two years old, I told one of my sisters-in-law that I thought I would put off my dissertation until the girls started school. “It will be easier then.” She had three grown children, and was a Ph.D. and a teacher herself. She looked at me, eyes wide, and said, “It will not get easier. It will be different, but it will not be easier. Write your dissertation now.”

That advice proved to be a huge gift. I wrote my dissertation that year and defended it when the girls were three. We moved into a bigger house; I got a full-time, tenure track teaching job; we added a third daughter to the mix. At some point in there, I realized that if I wanted to continue writing, I was going to have to keep following that advice. Do it now. Write today. You can negotiate with it. You can limit yourself to a two-hour block, or one hour, or fifteen minutes. If life crashes around you, you can pull out a notebook and write a short description of it, five minutes.

This is your life.

I’ll be back (soon) to let you know how the organizing is going — and helping.




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