I’ve been way in over my head lately.
Since October, it seems, I’ve been running from one thing to the next. In October, I told myself things would slow down in November. Now that it’s November, and things haven’t slowed down one bit, I’m coming to realize things won’t slow down unless I choose to slow them down.
Early last week, I opened my calendar to see that nearly every day for the remainder of the month was full. I’d have to go to work each day, then immediately start running from one activity to the next. Some activities were fun – a musical, a few movie dates with friends, a craft night get together, soccer for Caleb. Some of them were necessities – appointments, grocery shopping, car repairs. All of them — combined — were stress inducing. Individually, these things are fine, fun, and even necessary in some cases, but all together, they had me nearly in tears on Monday morning when I was thinking of the week to come. Some of this is pure overbooking on my part. Some of it is my inability to say no. Some of it was stuff that I absolutely wanted to do and wouldn’t miss for the world, and some of them were obligations that needed fulfilling.
While I can take the blame for the overbooking, and realize that I should not be scheduling so much “stuff,” I also know that some of the stress comes down to my personality type and my innate need for downtime and quiet. Some people love the thrill of being always on the go, and I love it to an extent too, but I also NEED downtime for my own sanity. Some people wouldn’t struggle with such a busy schedule like I do, but I am constantly on the go and constantly on edge as a result. This is not the ideal lifestyle for someone such as myself – an introvert who needs time alone to unwind and recharge. That alone time is SO vital for my health, but I also want to be involved and invited. I long to be a part of things, but I also long to be in bed. Reading. By myself. Ah, the conundrum of the introvert — wanting it both ways, so badly.
Then you have the other part of the balance equation. Not only do I need better balance for my sanity and stress levels, I need better balance as a mom. I touched briefly on this topic in last week’s Five on Friday, which inspired this whole post, and I wanted to explore it further.
I’m finding myself caught up constantly in the dilemma of wanting to still see friends and be social, but also needing to spend time with my son, as well as time alone. I feel like a bad mom when I leave him to go do something social, but then I feel like a bad friend when I say no. I WANT to do a lot of these activities, I NEED to maintain friendships, and I LOVE spending time with them all. Having friends is a vital component to happiness, in my opinion. I never want to push my friends away because they bring me joy and happiness, ya know? I see moms who give everything to their kids and forsake all others in their efforts. They stop seeing friends, they put their husbands on the back-burner, and they never go out to socialize. I wonder what life will be like for those mothers when their kids grow up and leave the nest. Probably pretty lonely. To that end, I think seeing my friends is super, super important, and this is how my calendar gets so full all the time. I love the time spent with them and I HATE saying no.
On the other hand, my child does need to be my priority. If I ever think my social life is negatively impacting my relationship with my son, I would and will absolutely take a step back. Lately, I do feel that is the case some weeks and that I need to start prioritizing my social activities better. I need to figure out which ones are more important and which ones I can pass on. I don’t want the guilt of saying no to friends, but I’d rather have THAT than the guilt of not having enough quality time with my son. It’s a tough balance and it’s impossible to find. There is no right answer and this balance is going to be different for every single mom.
You still want your own identity, own friends, own hobbies when you become a mom, but you also need to prioritize BEING a mom. My child’s needs are always met, but lately I feel that my time away from him is becoming too much. I’m already away from him all day when I work, and I don’t want to be away from him all evening when I get home, too. This has been the case on a lot of days lately… and this is the predicament! I’ve stressed the importance of friendships and maintaining them, but I’ve also stressed the importance of quality time with my child. They are both so important and needed in their own ways.
I need to find a better balance in my life, not only for my own mental health and stress levels, but also for my relationships with my son and husband. Our time together is already so limited. We both work full time, and on opposite schedules to boot. That means we’re away from each other and our son more than we’d like to be.
I’m going to start prioritizing my social calendar a bit more going forward. I still want to see my friends, so I will still say yes as often as I can, but I also need to accept that it’s okay to say no too sometimes. I still want to be invited, still thought of, still asked to come! I still want to be a part of it all and I never want to be left behind or left out. I still want options and choices and friends and get togethers. With that in mind, I can’t say no so often that it harms my friendships, but I also can’t say yes so often that my mental health and family relationships are harmed instead.
I think that in the New Year, it will be super important for me to keep my calendar a lot more open and clear. Ideally, I’d like to keep my social activities (ones without Caleb) to one per week going forward. Some social activities can involve him, and I won’t limit those as much since then it’s the best of both worlds – time with him and time with friends. I think this will be a good balance. It will enable me to still see my friends and go do my own thing outside of being a mother, but it will also allow me a lot more time with my son. In addition, slowing down my life and clearing out my schedule a bit will also do me some good in the mental health department – more time at home, less time being busy, more time with my nose in a book or spent writing. In other words, more time on the things that give me peace and calmness, less times on the things that are merely running from one place to the next, with hopes that my stress levels and anxiety will decrease as a result. I will say yes when it’s something that is important to me, something that I want to do, something that I find worthy of my time. I will say no when it’s something I don’t want to do, something I am doing only to please others, something that is just another obligation that I want no part of. I will slow life down. I will still see friends. I will spend more quality time with my son and loved ones. I will find more meaning and more balance than just merely surviving from one thing to the next.
Slowly, I’m learning that life really is a series of choices, and our happiness – or lack thereof – is always a direct result of those choices. I can choose to say yes, but I can also choose to say no. Happiness is just an answer away, whatever that answer may be.