Lately I find myself in a sort of evaluation of priorities in which I stop…look around…take a breath…and consider my life from an outside perspective. I call it…readjusting my motor. Because going full speed ahead is not always the right way to go…if you are pointed in the wrong direction.
And somehow I need to find a balance between what I dearly love…and what I dearly love.
Another Fall season has come and gone as I drive repeatedly by the riverbanks where fly fisherman cast silent wisps upon the surface, the fading orange leaves reflecting spirals off the water as the fish nip at false hope. And every year I say, “I’ll photograph that scene next year…”
Months ago I picked up some fabric to make Mya some skirts and it sits in a heap in the corner, a reminder of lost priorities, overscheduling…promises made and never kept. Nearby on the couch a mountain of clean laundry, sorted, slowly disappears and reinvents itself as socks are dug out, worn, and returned to the most reliable cycle of life in a parent’s world.
My garage overflows with woodworking tools from chainsaw carving to scroll saw detailers…coated in sawdust, layers of forgotten moments in time when I snuck in spare seconds of my own and shined at the result. Scraps of summertime, left unfinished on the concrete floor. Maybe next year, I say with a sigh as I pass through on my way to some chore.
The to-do list grows and dishes heap as we spend our days in the mountains and the cabin roof goes slowly into place between volleyball tournaments, basketball practices and swimming pool parties.
And speaking of parties…Destini’s eighteenth birthday came and went, Anthony’s eleventh tomorrow and no party planned, no big event scheduled to celebrate those years that will never be again. And why? Because time has once again gotten the best of us…won that everlasting battle. Next year we’ll fight the same war…and lose again. Oh, they get their gifts, they have their fun with friends…but did I take the time to sit, to stare at the awesomeness that is their special day and tuck it away in the memory banks? No…because the day Destini spiraled into adulthood I slaved away in the home economics room cooking meals for her volleyball tournament. No doubt, she needed that more than she needed my overbearing motherly attention but still, the moment is gone forever. There will be no next year for that particular event. It’s gone.
How do we find that place…that even plateau between what we ‘have’ to do and what we ‘want’ to do? And is there even such a realm for parents? Are we destined to a purgatory of half-to’s until the little buggers are out of the nest, and then do we plunge into grandparent duties with the same vigor and sometimes hidden resentment at our own lost sense of self?
This morning I noticed in the task bar at the bottom of my computer there were no Word pages, no half-finished writings waiting a closing argument. No lists of things to say or unformatted ideas where nine or more documents normally await completion. Not even one.
Just one more thing I love…given up for something I love. Oh, to have more hours in the day.
I think there must be a balance somewhere, a tilting point where the have-to’s and the must-do’s find a resting place where both sides are equally attended and nobody loses out…not even me. But I, like most parents out there who struggle to find that happy place, have yet to find it.
Finding the balance may be the single most important skill we ever learn. Without it, we are just skidding out of control in one direction, looking over our shoulder at the things that passed us by, and thinking, “I’ll do that next year…”
And so I Flintstone feet myself to a screeching halt, lift my vehicle and point it in another direction. Shift down into first gear, putter along until I find the right path…and take off again at full speed ahead, dodging brick walls and stop signs, until the next five-way intersection comes along…and then I’ll stop, re-evaluate my direction, and start all over again.