A Tight Rope Daily

6 May



What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!

–Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Last night was my last class of the spring semester and now I can finally let out a huge sigh of relief! WHEW, what an ordeal! Taking Philosophy and Psychology simultaneously was very taxing not only on my brain, but on my family. And so after yet another meltdown last week, I am seriously reconsidering my schooling going forward.  It’s time to reevaluate some things and regain some balance in my life.

After a good talk with my husband (along with a good cry on his shoulder), I realized I’m trying to do too much. (Big DUH!) Very gently he pointed out that because of the way I’m “wired,” I feel compelled to give 100% to everything I do. (Not sure where I’d get that trait from….hmmmm, I wonder?) He wasn’t critical, only supportive and concerned about my mental well-being.

I thought about the stupid mental errors I’ve made over the past few months trying to keep track of my own crazy schedule along with six other busy people in my household. (Most days, it seems like we’re all going in about fifty different directions!) There were the little things like forgetting my daughter’s hip-hop dance lessons two weeks in a row or forgetting to pay tuition two months in a row at my son’s preschool.

Then there was a big thing…Last week, I bought up a bunch of meat at Safeway because they were having a great sale and for once in my life, I was thinking ahead enough to stock up. I brought the groceries into the laundry room fully intending to put everything away promptly, but then the boys started whining because they were hungry and so to appease them, I fixed their lunch. Then I had some great thoughts for an essay I was working on and before I knew it, three hours had passed. I was out watering the flowers in my front yard and thinking about how I was going to prepare all that meat when…oh no! The meat! I didn’t put the meat away! I ran into the house and there it all was, still sitting there. $50 worth of groceries that had to go out to the trash can instead of the freezer…aarrgghh!

I learned in my Psychology class that the short-term memory can only successfully manage seven (give or take a few) different things at once. Obviously, I’ve had too many things vying for attention in my brain “que” lately. It’s time for a mental vacation me thinks!

And so come fall semester, I’ll probably be cutting my schedule back to just one class. I’m also evaluating whether I should keep pursuing an English degree. I don’t have to have a degree to be a writer. I can just keep take writing classes at my community college or online and keep enjoying my association with my mentors in the English department at ACC. At this point, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but something has got to change. For those of you who often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” now you know that I DON’T do it very well. The juggling balls can’t stay in the air forever–they’re going to come crashing down sometime.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh puts it so perfectly in my favorite book Gift from the Sea: “…to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mothercore, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes. How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living. How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint–the inner inviolable core, the single eye.”

I’m not giving up on my dreams–to do so would be a death sentence to my soul. I just have to find a better way of pursuing them in moderation. Steady now!


5 Responses to “A Tight Rope Daily”

  1. smartmama May 6, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    that AML is one of my favorite woman quotes!!– I like it because my ms is in family studies and i did alot on systems theory and it speaks nicely to that framework– I like this post and can relate alot- as a mom who is constantly sticking her fingers in pots- my art, volunteering, church, maintaing my professional certifications, etc- its crazy

  2. Rick May 7, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    Have you ever read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done? It sounds like you might benefit from his research in managing multiple priorities and responsibilities.

    I have seen the same research around how many concepts one can hold in their minds ‘concurrently’. However, this might not be so much a call for a mental vacation as a catalyst for a system that allows you to abstract out those real-life calls to action.

    GTD (Getting Things Done) has as a premise that much of our inner noise and tension is caused by the fact that our brains know that all the stuff we need to get done is NOT stored in a system that we can trust to track it. So, we have to constantly be thinking about the same thing: “pick up milk on the way home”. Since that thought is not stored in a trusted system (that will tell us WHAT needs to get done WHEN and IN CONTEXT) our brain has to keep focus on that….wasting energy and introducing needless tension.

    Even if you don’t embrace the system as a whole, there are bits of organizational wisdom in there for everyone. I highly recommend giving it a look.

  3. brainymama May 7, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks for the advice, Rick. I’ll take a look at that book–it sounds interesting!

  4. Amber May 7, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    Hey there!

    I came here via Segullah and was thrilled to find another Colorado blogger! I am the editor for The Denver Post’s MileHighMamas.com, a fun new site for moms. I am trying to build the blogging community in Colorado and would love to add you to our blogroll. Let me know if you’re interested in becoming part of our community!


  5. sassyquilter May 21, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    Don’t forget the network surrounding you — i.e. US!!!!

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