I struggle with balance on a daily basis. Work/life balance. Mother/wife balance. Homemaker/individual balance. Writer/employee balance.
As my eyes move around the rooms of my house, my brain sifts through all that I'm seeing and builds a list, almost without my noticing:
- laundry's piling up - been three days since you did a load
- tumbleweeds of dog hair beginning to collect in the corners
- pantry's getting low on kid snacks
- leftovers in the fridge are getting a little past-it
None of these things are urgent, but they will all continue to build up. Similarly, as I go through my day at work, certain things stick:
- gotta make sure someone is here for parent curriculum night to shuttle the lost parents to their respective classrooms
- we're getting low on emergency lunches - better order some more
- paper supply is looking a little lean
- teacher in room 4 says the thermostat is getting funky again
When I pick the kids up from school and sift through the news of their day, I collect still more:
- fill out the info for Eve's picture day and order a package
- pay tuition for choir and set up a uniform fitting
- Lola's dying to get back to her swimming lesson - set that up soon
- my volunteer day in Eve's French class is coming up next week - set up a carpool for Lola
I somehow manage to get things done. The critical things. Weekly meal planning, dishes, packing school lunches, making sure we've got enough dog food, cat food, vitamins, toilet paper. I don't feel as though I'm jumping from crisis to crisis or managing emergencies all day long. The girls are getting their homework done and making it to practices and school on time. They are in bed and asleep by 8:30 every night and Bubba and I get some face-time and even a date or two a month.
It's the prioritizing I'm struggling with. When I realize that it's been six months since I wrote a word of my new book project, I feel bad. When I decide that it is definitely past time for me to send out a new rash of agent query letters so I can get the first book published, I wonder when I'll get the time to sit down and do the research I need to do first. I'm not going to vacuum one room of dog hair. Once I get started, I'm doing the whole damn house before I put the vacuum away. I'm not going to do one load of laundry at a time. I'm gathering up every last stitch of dirty clothes, sorting them and washing, drying, folding until it's all neatly set at the end of everyone's bed. My daddy taught me not to start something I can't finish. I've made myself crazy for so many years multitasking that I know it's better for me to focus on one thing and do it right the first time.
But the first thing to drop off the To Do list is writing. Somehow, the writing doesn't seem to pile up like dirty dishes or smelly laundry. It doesn't collect under the buffet like tufts of black dog hair or sit on the counter in the kitchen waiting for me to sign it and return it to school. It doesn't reach out and tap everyone else in the house on the shoulder like running out of milk or cheese does. It only speaks to me. It only wakes me up at 2:30am to remind me that I haven't written or read any blog posts in over a week.