There are a bunch of priorities in my life, and far too many of them seem to want to come first. I mean, there are the semi-obvious top priorities: God, my husband Alex. After them, my family & friends. But then…
There’s work. And school. Things that have to be done to keep going forward, like housework and finances and errands and appointments. Social stuff. Exercise. And that inspection I’ve needed to get done on the truck for the past six months. *facepalm*
The most aggressive contestants for my attention are work, school, and personal “stuff” that needs to get done. On any given week, I’ll want to spend more time either on work or on school, to the momentary detriment of the other, but I rarely really want to prioritize all the “stuff” of everyday life, even less so now, when my husband isn’t around to pitch in.
It baffles me that other women do all this and raise children, too. I can’t imagine having the energy, selflessness, and patience that takes. And no, most mothers I know aren’t getting PhDs–but over half the women (and men) I know getting PhDs have kids.
For the record, I’m tremendously blessed to have these opportunities; my PhD program has been exciting and rewarding and useful in ways I never dreamed. My job is challenging and my staff is top-notch, people who are great at their work and fun to be with. I have the opportunity to have an education and a career that was rare for a woman less than a hundred years ago.
But something’s got to give, and for a long time it’s been my creative side. I’m not talking about my crafting, painting furniture, etc.–although I miss that, too. I mean how dusty my BA in Fine Arts has gotten, how odd it feels that I still display paintings in my house that I made 15 years ago… that I’ve rarely done such work in the past 10. Even harder has been stepping away from my creative writing. I diligently worked on a number of projects even through my two earlier grad school experiences, up until I became a fulltime librarian in 2006 and began work toward my PhD later the same year. Since then, it’s been nearly dark until recently–having a writer for a roomie awakened that need.
It’s great to be thinking and planning and writing creatively again–but it means that now I’ve got one more important priority begging for my time. One I’ve denied for a long time, that I don’t want to continue a habit of ignoring. But at the same time, I’m tired of being everything, all the time. I want to simplify my life without giving up things.
If life is a balancing act, I’m on the tightrope on a bicycle, carrying an overstuffed suitcase on my head while each hand is full of books. I know I’ll be happier and achieve more at the remaining things if I just drop something… but figuring out what to drop and how to do it gracefully continues to elude me.
Best of luck, fellow balancers!