As I approach this Monday, I could feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities that lay ahead of me this week. But instead I am grateful for my newly adopted state of mind.
It isn't "new" as in this weekend "new", but new as in the past couple of months. Somewhere around the past holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was pretty sure that I was leaving a trail of marbles behind me as they fell from my head. It became apparent to me that if I continued traveling this path I was pretty much going to lose it. Knowing it was not an option to alter my path, I decided that I would alter the WAY in which I traveled the path.
It is Monday. But today doesn't feel like Monday to me. I'm not sure what it feels like it. Well, other than it feels like when you spin around and around with your eyes closed and then open your eyes. Yea - that's it. It feels like that first second that you open your eyes and can't focus. You sort of feel a little sick - but not going to hurl, dizzy with a feeling that it might be fun, but a bit scary, while you nervously laugh trying to process what is happening, knowing in your mind that it is temporary and that this too shall pass. Yup. That is definitely the feeling today.
This past weekend I wore many hats. As a dance teacher, I attended a weekend ballet conference with 14 students. The conference schedule was Saturday 8:30-4:00 and Sunday 8:30-4:30. I began attending these conferences as a kid - a ballet student myself. It truly was somewhere that I made some of the greatest memories of childhood. I love to encourage my students attendance and see them have the same experiences. However, being all grown up and having a family of four children it's a different experience for me as an adult.
It just so happens that this conference falls on the exact same weekend every year that another important event does. You see, my husband is the Head Coach and Commissioner for the local junior league wrestling team. Due to that fact, I am the Uniform Coordinator and Awards Banquet Coordinator in addition to the countless other obligations that become mine by default. Every year the awards banquet is at 5:00 pm on Sunday - the last Sunday in March. No - it is not an option to change the date of the banquet - for those of you thinking that. Hello? I am an intelligent person - covered that ground already. The school cafeteria that we host our banquet in is only available that weekend. So - I do both things. Every. Year.
I keep all of the banquet supplies and uniforms at my house. I store them in my cedar closet in my basement. So rather than my closet being somewhere that I can keep my OWN belongings - it is a storage facility for the wrestling program. After taking inventory of last years leftovers, last Friday, my husband and I ran around gathering supplies for the banquet. Paper products, cups, plastic serving spoons, tablecloths, sheet cakes, helium tanks for balloons. We picked up the awards that we had made a trip to the store the week before to order. All foraging was complete. My home looked like a bomb went off as I headed off to bed completely unprepared for the next day..
Saturday morning I awoke at 6:00 am to shower, pack lunch and head off to the ballet conference. I admittedly felt tired and struggled to muster some energy. My daughter attends the ballet conference with me although recently she has begun to lose interest in it. Driving that morning, I looked over at her and decided that rather than allowing myself to feel overwhelmed with my undertakings this weekend, I would embrace the fact that this may be the last time my daughter and I shared this experience. I decided to lose myself in the ability to watch my daughter dance and the fact that I am still able to share our passion at this particular function. Once I arrived and saw my students preparing for their scholarship audition class, I was reminded of my childhood and began to feel invigorated for the next two hours.
I don't get paid for the weekend that I attend the conference. In fact, I pay for myself to attend the conference as well. It is one of those weird dance teacher things. Things you have to do but don't get paid for. Like recital picture day - you have to be there to pose your students for hours upon hours - but no pay. Like dress rehearsal - you have to be there - but no pay. This conference is the same thing. It's giving up an entire weekend - the weekend that I also have to be the "wrestling mom".
I had warned my husband that I would be getting to the banquet late. I told him that I would be staying for the duration of the conference but that I wouldn't stay for the awards that followed to ensure that I would arrive when necessary. That had always been my plan. But as the weekend continued I began to rethink things.
I got home Saturday night and was completely exhausted. I really fought to stay awake at 7:30 p.m. even after having stopped to get an EXTRA LARGE coffee from 7-11. I get home to find that the ground beef in the fridge is expired and there is no dinner. I try to get through the next two hours until bedtime.
I woke up Sunday morning and felt as if I had hit a wall. I showered and dressed knowing that my exhaustion was beginning to rule. As I put on my make-up and dried my hair, I thought of my husband. I thought of the concern that he had voiced when I informed him that I wouldn't be there for the set up of the banquet. I knew he woke up extremely early that morning and was downstairs making lists and trying to plan all that it is that I usually do for the banquet.
I decided that I needed to put my family first. It was important that I was there for them. After all, this was another commitment that I am responsible for - my husband needed me and I would not abandon him. It was hard to justify that I would stay at the conference because it was "my job" - when that "Job" wasn't providing pay.
When my husband came upstairs, I told him that I would only be staying at the conference until lunchtime and then I would leave to come home and get ready for the banquet. I could see the relief flash across his face and I said, "Did I just make your world, right there?" His answer? "Yes." The first two hours of my day complete.
So my daughter and I piled into the car again at 8:00 am on Sunday and headed to the conference. In speaking with a fellow colleague we swapped stories of being on overload. She is also a homeschooling, ballet teaching mother who is also caring for an elderly mother. Interestingly, she also shares some of the same health conditions as myself, specifically Celiac Disease, and we discussed how people don't understand the difficulty in continuing to live each day in full force when your body feels terrible.
I shared my new approach to life with her. "Two hours at a time." That is how I live my life now. In two hour increments. I can't think beyond it. I focus on what I am responsible for doing for the next two hours. Then the next. Then the next. Suddenly, I realize the day is complete. I accomplished what I needed to and I am still alive.
So, I observed my students in their classes, attended the teacher's class and absorbed all the knowledge that I could, I hugged my students and told them how proud I was of them, collected my daughter and headed home. Four hours completed.
Once home, the next two hours were spent eating lunch, showering and packing up for the banquet.. A wonderful friend had volunteered her time to help and from 3:00 to 5:00, another two hour span, and we turned the cafeteria into a festival of fun.
The buffet consisted of Baked Ziti, Lasagna, Meatballs, Salad and Bread. A Celiac Disease nightmare. But that's okay. I'm drinking lemon-lime soda. I maintained the buffet, refilled butter, consolidated meatballs, sliced the sheet cakes, broke up the clumps of ice, wiped down the tables, replenished the soda and water choices, while everyone ate happily, received their awards and listened to their coaches' speeches. At 7:30 the banquet is complete and those two hours have passed., I pack everything up - my husband loads the truck and we are finished.
Well not quite. Now we unload everything from the trucks. After my kitchen counters, dining room table and family room fireplace are sufficiently cluttered with all of the wrestling supplies I head upstairs to put on my pajamas. I looked at the clock. 8:00 p.m. I announced to my family that my weekend officially was beginning.at 8 pm and would officially end at 10 pm. I was allotting myself a two hour weekend. I poured myself a glass of Chianti and snatched a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups because that is the Sunday Dinner of Champions right there. I try to sit with the family - they want to watch a movie - but I just can't do it. I climb the stairs with my glass of wine.
I climb into my bed to find that 20 year old cat sleeping there. Too tired to care - I turn on the television. "The Way We Were." Perfect. I again have high hopes that I will sip my wine and watch the movie -- but before I know it I am asleep. More than 10 hours pass and it is now 7 am on a Monday morning.
Son #1 and Son #2 are on Spring Break this week as we enjoy a balmy 33 degree morning this morning. Over the next two hours I will do some laundry and hopefully put the wrestling stuff away. I know that I have to do some choreography for my recital dances to teach tonight. That will be assigned to another two hour block this afternoon.
Right now, I can't think about tonight's dinner, or tomorrow's dentists appointments, or the paperwork for my daughter's summer camp that is due this week. I can't think about the necessary library trip for research papers or the fact that we are behind in math. No - today's goal is to get the comforter that the cat peed on last Thursday to the dry cleaners.
Hopefully somewhere in the course of the day there will be a two hour span that allows that...
Addendum: It is 9:26 pm - no such luck. The comforter did not make it to the cleaners today. Perhaps tomorrow. Heavy Sigh....