My dad gave me a great compliment while we were visiting. After a long day of chasing around the twins, he said that he didn't know how I/we did it all. He said he was exhausted, and it was only one day (or a handful of days). I appreciated the compliment, because I forget that it is not a walk in the park to chase after my two.
One of the great things about my husband (then boyfriend) was that he forced me to examine all the activities I had in college. I was needlessly busy. Not only was I working two jobs to make ends meet (waitressing around 25 hours per week and working over ten hours in the theater department), I spent a great deal of time on my honors thesis. In the end, I'm not sure I would have done my honors thesis any differently, but I'm not very happy with the way it turned out. If I hadn't been working as much as I did, perhaps I would have been able to think more clearly at the time. Who knows.
In addition to the multiple jobs, I had numerous committee chairs and other random activities. I think I was tutoring someone at the local library with a learning disability. I was also struggling with depression, and not really finding the help that I needed.
Maybe some people (including friends) thought that cutting back was unnecessary. I distinctly remember one friend was disappointed that she and I were not able to start a tv station at our college. For the record, that was one idea I'm glad passed me by.
But by cutting my activities back to the truly essential, I was able to breathe. I felt like I could focus on my schoolwork, jobs and friends where possible. I didn't have to be everything to everyone. I could focus on doing a handful of things well, and let the rest slide. I was a great waitress - by the end I had been promoted to the "best" section for the dinner rush on the weekends. I passed my honors thesis and graduated. My final year of college was entirely self-funded.
I'm still working hard to limit my involvement in a lot of things, and more importantly, to not feel guilty about it. I think I've mentioned this before, but I wanted to clarify where I am coming from. I try to keep in mind that I work forty hours plus per week, outside my home. My twins are great - but they are very active two year olds. They will run in two different directions if given the chance. Our house requires a lot of upkeep - especially outdoors. I feel like we have sadly neglected many of our friends. Some have homes that are not child-proofed - others are also so busy that even stopping by seems daunting.
So - there are many things "on my list" that seem like great ideas. Until I really start thinking about them. I don't know if it's my personality or part the way I was raised, but I feel firmly like I've got too be busy, to have a list most of the time. That I need to invest in relationships - make the first move.
My brother will probably be coming to visit around Labor Day weekend with his girlfriend. Which will be great.
I had a crazy idea (which I've tossed around for quite some time) that I would host a cousin gathering for all of our cousins (and their children) here in the midwest.
This is a clear example of the "it's a great idea in theory". Some of our cousins (my brother's, chanson's and mine) live up to twelve hours away. Others are closer. I would love to see them, meet their children. I know some of the relatives may be moving farther away this year or next - which is also an impetus.
But the amount of work preparing for such a gathering - even an afternoon - would be daunting. Hosting Christmas at my house for just my siblings and parents is fairly exhausting. AND - who can say where everyone would sleep? We have a guest room and futon in our basement, but if we invite all the cousins within a twelve hour radius - that's at least eight families. And I would hate for anyone to feel left out. I could ask them to stay in hotels - but that also just doesn't seem very fair either. Not only that, my husband is not the type of person who relishes large family gatherings - including his own.
I let it go. Maybe next year. Maybe at some point. Maybe we could all rent cottages or something on Lake Michigan. So in the end, I'll visit with my brother.
Yet I still feel like I've let someone down - perhaps myself. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, since it really would be a herculean effort. And who's to say that any of my cousins really want to drive six to twelve hours just for a barbecue?
I try to tell myself that when my kids are older. And it may be possible. Until then, I'll try to not give myself a guilt trip that I'm not doing more.