I’ve been back to work for just over a month. Of course it’s gone by in the blink of an eye. Do I feel at all like I’ve adjusted? Mostly no. In many ways life feels like a constant tailspin. I work, I play with the kids, I cook, I clean (well, sometimes), I drive, and drive and drive some more. The tasks go on and on, and though my days are beyond full it never feels like I get ahead. In fact, most days I feel more like I’m falling behind. The sheer number of daily tasks can feel insurmountable and when they really are, it means a longer list of expectations for the next day. But you’ll never believe. Even though I’m spinning, even though I’m racing everyday to keep up, I’m remarkably content with it.
It’s the oddest thing. Without question, I have moments when my heart starts to race and I feel dangerously close to tipping over the edge of a cliff. These moments catch me by surprise and leave me breathless. But more often, on any given day, I find myself feeling oddly exhilarated. That’s not possible is it? How can I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of responsibilities and be seemingly at peace with them at the same time?
It feels like I’ve shed a set of heavy blankets that were oppressive and unrelenting. I feel my perspective is more light and clear. It’s like the sun is coming out and my life is bright once again. I feel it in my core, in my heart. I’m enthusiastic and ready to tackle almost every day. On my commute to work I feel poised for productivity, excited to be challenged, motivated, and engaged. On my commute home I’m enthusiastic to see my children, spend time as a family, and enjoy the company of my husband. When my children go to bed at night I have several personal pursuits that fill my free time and I have energy and desire to do them. I feel random clarity, but it’s less random these days.
This feeling, it’s fueled by a surprising sense of optimism. I’ve discovered an understanding within myself that, even though my days are very hard and beyond busy, I’m living the life I’m meant to live right now.
Before I started back, I wrote about my apprehension over my return to work. I’m not very good at managing change, never have been. Some of my worry stemmed from a fear of the unknown, of whether we could manage the tumult that naturally comes when both parents are away from the home for more than 10 hours a day. Now that we’re living it, the chaos is definitely real and rules our life in many ways, but it isn’t as exacting as I thought it would be. Perhaps because I’m learning to let go, to think carefully about my priorities.
Granted, some of it comes from the fact that I’m often distracted and have little time to consider the multiple pressures. But at the same time, I’m slowly discovering how to shape my day one task at a time, rather than concentrating on the multiple competing priorities. It’s makes everything more manageable, slows my heart rate so that it beats at a trot rather than a gallop. This simple change in how I think about and structure my day is making a difference.
It’s not in my nature to think like this, and it’s taking work. I’m constantly reminding myself to breathe, to see the moment for what it is, and to let everything else wait it’s turn. It’s so simple I could cry. It’s working, it’s grounding me, I’m finding peace in the routine of it.
Do you have mechanisms for coping with the multiple priorities in your life? Is it easy for to pick and choose what they will be on a given day or do you fly by the seat of your pants? How do you stay grounded in your various roles: mother, wife, friend, employee, blogger?