Journal Entry #49
So that’s the million dollar question isn’t it?
How do I continue to serve others without it coming at the expense of myself and my family?
We live in world that never stops. We live in a world now, where there is constant connection. And also constant disconnection. We live in a world that never sleeps. We live in a world that never rests.
Growing up, we had parents that went to work, came home and were totally present with their families. There was legitimate downtime, quality family time, solitude and rest. Today, in our household, we are so connected with cell phones that work doesn’t stay at work. We are anticipated or expected to be available at all hours to respond to the next crisis. When we are this connected, always anticipating the call or text, how can we actually shut off? How do we find quality uninterrupted family time? How do we find legitimate disconnected downtime? How do we ever truly rest?
In the past, my husband’s job took him around the world. Literally. He would be gone 28 weeks of the year, visiting every continent multiple times (all but Antarctica). He had a team that he managed in Israel, Italy and Toronto. He had conference calls from Columbia to Australia to China. He was so connected to his work at all hours of the day and night, he never had a rest. Our only reprieve as a family, would be to pick a weekend destination that would have NO cell service or WIFI. How sad is that? Even our family holidays would require conference calls from the beach, hotel, or even ancient ruins. A change in jobs was necessary for his survival and also for the health of our family. Travel like that comes at a cost to families. He missed sporting events, milestones for the kids, class presentations, school trips, banquets, family reunions, holiday dinners and so many other valuable, irreplaceable moments when raising children. For instance, Faith was born on April 13, ten days early. He was home for her birth and a few days, but then departed on 6 weeks of travel. Out of the first 42 days of her life, he was only home 14 days.
We will never get those days back.
So, it came as a huge relief when Tim found work, closer to home, with significantly less travel and realistic hours. It has allowed him to take up coaching baseball, playing baseball himself, helping taxi the kids to their extra-curricular activities, sharing responsibilities around the household and being present for the kids meltdowns.
But it hasn’t been easy.
It has meant that I have had to let go of control. You see, for the first 10 years of our marriage, I ran the household, maintained the property, raised the kids, ran a business and contributed to the community. I didn’t really have a partner, I had a helper…sometimes.
And it was hard.
Our lives today, look a lot different. Tim is my partner. We make decisions together. We support each other. We run the household together. We have struggled communicating through tasks and projects. I have struggled to let go of the way I would do things as opposed to the way that Tim does things. I have to remind myself that just because he isn’t doing it my way, doesn’t mean that it is wrong…in the end, the job gets done. I have to squelch the critical voice when his way doesn’t work out and then I have to do it anyway. We don’t learn until we have the opportunity to learn. I have had to let go of the way things were, in order to make way for the way things are now. Even now, there are times that I forget I have a partner and that it is totally possible for me to ask for help.
This journey through Leishmaniasis, has created an even greater space for me to ask for help. For me to lean into Tim, and allow him to do the things that only I would have done before. Things like grocery shopping, taking the kids to the dentist, making meals and coordinating the calendar. And you know what? He is totally capable. He is totally competent.
If I am ever going to find a new balance, I have to realize that I will not find it without change. I have to let go of the way things were to make room for the way things are, and the way things can be.
A few years ago, I had what I call a Mommy Meltdown. I was dropping the ball, I was running late for everything – meetings at the church, scouts, tutoring and sometimes even clients. I was doing it all. And I remember feeling so disappointed in myself for not being the kind of mom that my mom was. My mom was amazing when we were little. I don’t ever remember rushing to stuff, she was on the SCC and involved at church, helped with Guides and 4-H, she made all our meals, we had clean clothes and the house was always clean and orderly. And as I compared myself to her, I could see that I was clearly failing. And then I realized in this Ah-Ha moment that I was comparing myself to an observation I made when I was 8. And when I really looked at it, my Mom wasn’t running a business and working full time when I was 8. I was comparing apples to oranges…and holding an unrealistic standard for myself.
Times are different.
This world is different. We are raising our children in a world that didn’t exist when we were young. When I allowed myself the space to show up differently as a Mom after that realization, I could finally breathe. I made changes to our schedule to accommodate and to survive. I didn’t feel like a failure anymore, but I certainly didn’t feel successful either.
This journey through Leishmaniasis has brought this to the forefront again. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off before I was infested with bugs. Now that I have 4 months hindsight, I can see that I was a maniac! How the hell did I do it? How did I cope? How did I thrive? How did I survive?
If I am truly going to continue to serve and make a meaningful difference in this world, I cannot do it from a maniacal place. The balance will come as I invest in my health and wellness and set boundaries around where and when my energy goes out. As a Mom, not all of the things that require my energy will be things I want to do…but they will be things that are important…like helping pre-teen girls navigate friendship. No one wants to listen to the squabbles or the drama…but we are shaping women here. That is important and purposeful work. That makes a difference.
Marianne Williamson has a quote that is a great reminder for me. She says,
“A lot of times people think, Someday my path will start. But whatever is happening in this moment is the path. You’re already on it.”
When I think of purpose, sometimes I think it needs to be something grand and flashy. I don’t have a big platform like the Oprah Winfrey’s and Deepak Chopra’s of the world. But the truth is, I don’t need one. This journey has reminded me that I don’t need a big platform to make a difference. I am already on the path. I am already purposeful. I am already present. I make a difference by listening, by sharing and by being fully in the moment to observe.
And that is enough.
Before Leish, I was chasing something. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I was always running. Turns out, when I am in the flow, just being on the path as it unfolds, is enough.
I am enough.
I don’t have to do the big and shiny thing. I can show up, authentically real, in all my perfectly imperfectness and still be enough. Moving forward, I will practice hard-core compassion towards myself. I am content knowing that everything I am doing in this present moment is my life’s work. It is my purpose.
I am learning how to love better.
I am learning to put light in all the dark places of myself. I am learning to share that light with others that are travelling their own path. I am learning that vulnerability is essential to our growth. Crisis is necessary for transformation. Compassion is required for healing.
Which takes me even deeper down the rabbit hole:
What is my legacy?