An alternative title for this post is 'Work Life Balance.' I feel like I'm always trying to find the right balance between time spent at work and with my family.
This week, after working a little too hard for a little too long, it was my family that helped to restore the balance.
2016 has gotten off to a roaring start and I've been working until 12 am/1 am every night of the week except Saturdays. I've figured out that if I get (close to) 6 hours of sleep, I can still function. Because it's always up at 6 am to make breakfast, pack school bags, style hair, brush teeth (if I'm lucky, my own) and get the gang out the door. And the weekends offer no respite, with our oldest now playing field hockey and our middle child taking swim and ballet classes that start at the crack of dawn on Saturday. It's insanity, but I admit that it's an insanity that I (usually) find pleasantly exhilarating ...
I truly love this work that I do, and feel grateful that I get to do it. I feel like I'm being challenged on so many levels and like I'm able to apply so many of my skills and past experiences to it. I'm learning SO much SO fast, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Usually I can keep it all under control with a little help from coffee, running and nightly yoga.
Where I run into trouble though, is when I need to outsource or, heaven forbid, ask for help. That letting go of control, admitting that I can't do it all - is something I just can't seem to get good at, and something that is becoming more and more of a necessity as my family, and this business, grow.
A couple of weeks ago our web team handed over the newly designed site, which we plan to have live in March. Now it's just a question of uploading all the right content (images and text). It sounds simple enough, and I set myself to the task last week, only to discover that there are just too many moving parts - building photography sets, producing products that still need to be photographed, scheduling photography, taking my own photographs, editing photographs, sizing photographs, testing links, re-styling PDF documents with the new logo and font ... for starters. All the while running up against my limited knowledge of how to administer the back-end of a Magento web shop.
Luckily, my weakness is my husband's great strength. He is unfailingly stable, not phased by anything, wonderfully able to step back from a situation, see the big picture, figure out what needs to be done, and execute. He can really manage work, delegate to others and see a complicated process through, thanks in part to his background as an engineer/project manager. I consider myself truly fortunate that, in addition to running his own business (city planning), he is my partner in life and work.
So, when this work ethic that I usually find pleasantly exhilarating suddenly becomes totally unmanageable and stressful, he stops me, sits me down (as he did this past Tuesday night) and helps me see that a) I can't do it all and b) I don't have to do it all.
From now on, I'll be focused on generating the content for the new site (text and photos), and he'll be finding/managing the person who will actually upload all of the content in Magento. Phew. It's a much better plan. Now I can get back to the design work that I was missing.
On Wednesday morning, I already felt relieved. It was a blessing to spend the day with my kids (they have vacation from school this week). On some unconscious level, they all seemed aware that I needed 'big hugs', and they doled them out generously. After a quiet day together, I planned to go to bed early for the first non-Saturday night of 2016.
I did a long, de-stressing hatha yoga practice, and headed up to bed.
It was then, however, that I noticed a strange smell coming from our youngest's bedroom.
I went in to his room to investigate and found the poor little guy, dazed and disoriented, under a gigantic pile of vomit.
I pulled him out of bed and started running a bath. At that moment, thankfully, my husband came home and got to work immediately making up a clean bed. But that was just the beginning. Nathan was on round 2 when our middle child let loose from her top bunk. She and Nathan were further in the throes when our oldest succumbed. It was like a scene from a movie: so bad, it was almost funny.
Apparently, I had unknowingly (food) poisoned our children with an appetizer of raw green beans, a vegetable that I now know should only be served cooked. Not a scene they put on the parenting posters, but a moment I will nevertheless be adding to our ever-growing album of 'good memories'.
Of course I wish I hadn't poisoned them, but it was almost 'gezellig' (cozy): the five of us, sitting in the bathroom, playing 'Who am I?' and telling food poisoning stories from our past until the wee hours of the morning, when the offending bacteria had been thoroughly expelled. When so much of our family time is spent rushing from home to school to extracurricular activity to extracurricular activity #2, it takes food poisoning to bring you all together in one place.
And that is the best place there is, even when it's a smelly bathroom full of dirty bed linen.
It's like the universe was pressing my 'reset' button. Pushing me to let go, be in the moment, cherish what is instead of what will someday be ...
And I see now. I may have thought it was, but the truth is, so little of this is really under my control. I've gotten the (smelly) message, thank you. I can plod along like a machine, winding myself up about a lot of pretty unimportant things. But that would be missing the point.
Because as much as I enjoy (the idea of) being in control, I am most present, here on Earth, and most happy, most grateful - and honored - as I hold back a lock of hair or rub a little, trembling back, that I can be there, for the moments that come out of nowhere.