When I’m stressed, I like to run away. Hours away… to the farm, the beach, the city, the mountains. Okay, I don’t actually physically run away, but mentally I am there. I will obsessively envision a new life. A “do over” in a completely different place. I start to research homes and schools and crime reports. It doesn’t make sense, but this is what I do. I start to feel overwhelmed and this desire to pack it up and create a new life for not only me, but for my whole family creeps in.
It’s actually laughable when I think about it because I haven’t moved in nine years. I am not a nomad, yet inside my heart it’s what I secretly think about. Okay, not so secretly because my husband is always there – whether he wants to be or not — for the ride. The most recent manifestation of this desire had us moving onto a farm. Yes, a minimum of 5 acres in the middle of nowhere with a barn.
This time Tiny Steps Daddy actually humored me for a few days. He even started sending me links to places. Together we envisioned ourselves on our back porch just watching the sprawling acreage. With no neighbors or busy streets or pressure to move at an insane pace. I was serious about this idea. We even had a three-year plan in place.
After a couple of days of this mental move, I pulled up to my actual driveway and looked at the leaves on the gutters. I glanced at the weeds in my front flower bed. Then it hit me. I CAN’T LIVE ON A FARM! I hire people to clear my gutters, I don’t rake my own leaves and I kill anything and everything I try to grow. What was I thinking?! And just like that, I was moved back into my own safe and comfortable home. My own suburban street only a few miles from where I grew up – right outside Washington DC.
I try to be happy with what I have and stay in the moment, but it’s not always easy. I get overwhelmed and discouraged because I AM HUMAN. I do not always have the answers and sometimes the idea of simply starting anew feels like something I need to do. Sometimes it feels like the only answer that makes sense. Of course… what makes sense in a moment of despair doesn’t always make sense when you step back and look at the entire picture.
I love my family and my life. I try to live in a state of gratitude, but it is a work in progress. I get down. I get frustrated and I sometimes second guess my decisions. Is sending my kids to a public school (albeit highly ranked) with 27 to 30 kids to a classroom really what I want for them? Do I really want to raise them in such a rose-colored suburban environment? Is staying in the same home for their entire childhood really what is best? How much of my life am I allowed to live for me versus for them?
That last one is the one I actually cringed writing. It’s an admission that may come across as completely ungrateful. I love my children. They are everything to me and yet I never want to look back on my life and feel like I gave and gave and gave and missed my own time. My own opportunities. I think this is what gives me the most pause and has me at times looking for an escape. Never away from them, but with them in a different way.
For me, this is the hardest balance of all – not time management or work/life. It’s the balance between being a mother and being an individual with dreams that exist beyond motherhood. It is impossible to perfectly balance anything. The whole “women can have it all” line is an exaggeration. Yes, we can have many things – so much more than our mothers or grandmothers – but this doesn’t mean we can have everything at once. The reality is that being a parent does require an element of sacrifice. There is a level of unselfishness that is required. The question is, how much?
I do not think we have to martyr ourselves or our dreams in order to be good parents and role models for our children. I want to believe that it is possible to pursue a dream for yourself, while also putting your children’s needs first. It’s what I strive toward every day. Focusing on being present for them, while not only keeping my own desires forefront in my mind, but actually working on making those dreams a reality.
But, it’s not always easy.
So, sometimes I run away, but never for long. I always come back to the truth that is right in front of me. Life is good and I am blessed. The love I feel for my children and husband is what gives me the strength and courage to admit I have dreams in the first place. This will never change – whether we live at the beach, in the city or yes, even on a farm.
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