I’m a thief.
It’s 11:47pm on Sunday night and I’m settling in to write. The weekend is over and I’m purposefully extending it a bit. I “steal” time. That’s what I call it. I only ever steal from the guilty – myself. I have two children, a husband and I work full-time. I’m tired.
I know there are women out there that have more children and less husbands, who work longer hours for less money. I’m not complaining. I’m just tired. I think this is the way that it is until I decide to do less or be less. Or if someone would agree to potty-training already.
I like to spend time with my husband (awake). I like to spend time with my children, I like to maintain friendships, attend church, cook our meals (which means grocery shopping), go to book club (and read the books), exercise, keep a (relatively) clean house AND have some ME time. It feels like that list is short, but with the hours I spend at work (and getting to and from work), it seems almost impossible to even do all of that.
So I steal.
My husband and I share the housework and the childcare. We’re partners. I have parents and in-laws that live within 15 minutes of us. (I also have the only two grandchildren on both sides.) I hire a lovely woman to come to my home and clean for two hours once every two weeks. My nose is still just above water.
So I steal.
I stay up late. Too late. I’m a night owl by nature, but even I know that taking a bath to relax at midnight isn’t the best idea when I have to be at work in the morning. It’s just so nice to be awake and not needed. While everyone sleeps, I get far fewer e-mails. I don’t feel guilty for staring at my phone and I can eat five of those cookies that I told the children they could only have one of just hours before. I can sit and listen to the quiet at 1:00am, taking the same deep breaths as I would from the front porch swing listening to the rain fall in the southern, summer afternoon – but uninterrupted. Sometimes I’ll cook tomorrow’s dinner. If I can steal the time to do one thing that’ll make life easier tomorrow… surely the sacrifice of sleep is worth that.
I’m probably over-committed. However, I don’t know one working mother that isn’t (or doesn’t feel that way). That husband? Those children? My parents. His parents. My friends. My boss. My co-workers, neighbors… All of those relationships need nurturing – whether they be peripheral, professional or personal. It’s work. It takes time. I want to be the wife, mother, daughter, friend, employee, co-worker and neighbor that I know I can be – but each of them will have a piece of me during some waking hour. When everyone is asleep, I am MINE!
With every crime there is a price to be paid. Sleep deprivation is my debt. It shortens my fuse, tarnishing the “I work hard to be patient” badge I proudly wear. It often increases my appetite for the junk food stashed in the back of the cabinet, and it makes my morning meeting yawns a little more frequent (and admittedly most likely more noticeable). It’s not unusual that I’ll show up at work with only three to four hours of head-to-pillow time the previous night. This isn’t really what I’d call “balance.”
Is this “Having It All”?