Saturday, September 27, 2014

All My Beans In One Jar

I often imagine my life as a series of jellybean filled jars.

Stay with me while I explain: Imagine a row of jars, all of them labeled. The labels might include quality time with kids, housework, personal time, relationships, friendships, etc. Are you with me? Now imagine that you have only 100 jellybeans. Those 100 jellybeans represent your time, energy, blood, sweat and tears. You only have 100 of them, that's your 100 percent. You can try to evenly distribute your jelly beans, sure. But sometimes, without a doubt, some of the jars have more than others. And it changes, constantly. The trick is that if one of your jars needs more jellybeans, you have to take some away from another jar.

Do you know what happens to these jars if they go too long without enough jellybeans? They crack.

Right now, I have too many beans in one jar. My Parenting Jar is overfilling and my Housework Jar is suffering, albeit more full than most others. My Personal Time jar? It's been completely empty for a very, very long time. And yeah, it's about shattered.

You hear a lot that being a parent has a lot to do with balance but I'm convinced that total balance is impossible. Can I really play with my kids, keep my house under control, get myself dressed (for hell's sake, DRESSED), plan dinner with friends and then treat myself to a pedicure that night? It probably sounds doable, right?

I have to tell myself that no one can do this. There is just no one on the planet who really has all of their jars filled respectively and can keep them that way. When my Parenting Jar is filled, as it has been, I feel good. I feel needed and loved and my kids are certainly happy. But when my Housework Jar is lacking some beans, I'm frazzled and frustrated. I like waking up and having room in the sink to start a pot of coffee. I don't like washing a coffee cup. Sometimes, it's the opposite. Sometimes, I spend the entire day scrubbing, organizing and clearing clutter. But usually, I have to sacrifice time with my boys to accomplish that. Usually, I have to tell Kade, not right now, I've got to get this cleaned up. So even though I wake up the next morning to a shiny kitchen and clean socks (hallelujah), I'm feeling guilty for not spending enough one on one time with my kids and feel that I have to make up for it.

Just like that, beans from one jar are tossed into another. Back and forth, back and forth. I think my problem is my all-or-nothing attitude. Instead of transferring maybe, one or two beans, I dump all the contents of one jar straight into another.

When it comes to other jars, say my Personal Time Jar, I'm utterly and completely shattering that glass. I realized when Ian got home from work yesterday that I hadn't gotten dressed. I was in my pajamas from the night before. The kids were extremely happy, clean and cared. They had long bubble baths and extra stories and I breathed them in until they were settled for the night. The house was (mostly) straightened. But seriously, I haven't painted my nails, gone for a run, or worn makeup in weeks. In fact, I realized the other day that I'm out of makeup. When did that happen? None of my clothes fit and I'm feeling generally sloppy.

 This bothers me for two reasons. One, I used to pride myself on taking care of the way I looked. It made me happy to wear nice clothes and take the time to feel put together. For some, this doesn't matter. But though I'm comfortable in my own skin, I feel good when I do those things. My self-esteem is taking a very serious, direct blow. And two, I know I could be an even better mom if I took the time to take care of myself. The jellybeans need to spend some time in that jar, sweeten it up. When they hop back into the Parenting Jar, they'll be more shiny and colorful than before (this is becoming a seriously cheesy metaphor).

It's time to do some rearranging. This weekend, I'm dumping some beans into my Personal Time Jar. I'm going to go for a walk, paint my finger nails, wash my hair, shave my legs (oh gross). And maybe I'll start paying closer attention, aspire more to evenly distribute some of my time, energy, attention.

But maybe not. There's a good chance that a week from now, that jar will be empty again, cracking. I'm okay with that. This is all a learning curve. 

We have to remember that we are somebody, even apart from our kids. We were somebody before our kids. We have to remember to take care of that person. Because this person, matters.

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