Mother, wife, daughter, auntie, sister, cousin, niece, friend, teacher, college professor, home owner, pet owner…these are some of the hats I wear every waking second, and sleeping ones as well. Each one in and of itself is a full-time commitment and it is only at the quiet times (yes, I try to find some periodically somehow) that I can reflect and realize how overwhelming my life really is. For the most part, it is overwhelmingly amazing and wonderful. But by definition and sheer quantity, overwhelming is a pretty good description.
As I was growing up, I was a cussedly independent young lady. I never hurt anyone, but I did as I wanted. Luckily for me, I was also cussedly driven and smart enough to know that school was a priority and was, in fact, my ticket to get what I wanted- even though I will admit that I had no idea then what it was that I wanted in the long run. Still, it was enough to keep me in mostly forward progression towards a productive, constructive life.
I was still in high school when I met my husband, a handsome Navy sailor, and he almost got run over by the train that I was then. Luckily for me he was cussedly persistent. He followed me out to Arizona after I graduated, and we became engaged that week. At eighteen, my idea of “forever” was not well-developed, but I knew I had a good man and shouldn’t let him slip away.
What I also did not know at eighteen, was that “wife” would challenge “independent” to a duel. I wish I could say who won that duel, but it is still being fought in small ways thirty two years later. This might not be a bad thing; I am not one to give up something as near and dear to me as my personality easily.
We were married eight years before the children came along, and in the meantime, I had become a teacher. It was hard work and a huge adjustment to make room in my heart and head for the time and energy these major undertakings required. The thing is, I don’t do anything halfway. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with every cell in my body. The law of physics would say, if it applied to bodies, that this is impossible. I see it as a challenge.
Family became the most important thing in my life, the nectar to this hummingbird. From my family I drew the strength to take on everything else. Don’t let me lead you into thinking it was easy, or that I put on my superwoman cape each morning to face the world. It would be more accurate to say I dragged myself out of the house with a huge sigh and worry wrinkles on my brow, wondering how I would live through another of these intense days. There have been times when I am not sure I would actually live through it; it is only when coming through fire I look back and say, “well that only burned a little.” In Spanish there is a saying, “Lo que no te mata, te engorda.” What doesn’t kill you, makes you fatter, is the literal translation. I think they mean fatter is a good thing, as in enriches you; at least I hope that is what it means since that is how I take it.
My other life roles take thought and effort as well, and being the reflective person that I am, I realize that each of these roles has give and take. The thing is to try to balance these as much as possible- not so easy. Somewhere in the mix is the same independent young woman, a bit bruised and battered but still in charge. She has learned a few key tricks such as prioritizing, not taking everything personally, and how to say “no” as politely as possible. All good stuff that will keep me moving in a good direction for my second half-century.
Here is a link to an article about another wife finding balance: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/inspiration-motivation/cathi-hanauer-00100000081866/index.html