It’s All About the Choices

I woke this morning at 5:00am to the old dog scratching to be let out. I complied, then laid down on the couch. Sadly, I couldn’t fall back to sleep; my mind awash with all the things I could, or should, be doing.

  • Go to the gym? I’m out of shape and overweight and desperately NEED and WANT to work out.
  • Work? I work at home and have a BIG deadline on Tuesday that I won’t hit if I don’t work (a LOT) over the weekend.
  • Housework? Clothes need washing, curtains need hanging, rugs need vacuuming, floors need mopping.
  • DIY home repairs? Paint the unfinished trim, spackle the holey (UN-holy) bathroom, caulk the drafty windows.
  • Shower? I forfeited yesterday’s shower in favor of back-to-back commitments and appointments.
  • Blog? I haven’t posted here or on my own blog in weeks–maybe months–and it ALWAYS feels good to get my thoughts out of my head and onto a screen. (That IS why I started blogging, after all.)

Not twenty minutes passed when one of The Boys stirred, then called my name, “Mommy?” The choice was made. As I climbed the stairs I was thinking it was good I didn’t go to the gym or he might’ve woken Daddy (who worked late and likes to sleep in on his day off). Or worse, he might’ve come downstairs unattended and gotten into trouble. (We’ve had a few near misses like that.) I could have gotten this post done in those 20 minutes, or written a paragraph or two for work, or treated myself to a 7-minute shower instead of the usual lucky-if-I-get-2-uninterrupted-minutes shower.

But I didn’t. I contemplated my choices.

I am frankly STILL perplexed, after nearly 7 years of special needs parenting (or maybe it’s twin parenting that’s thrown me), about how to “take care of myself” the way people with grown, typically-developing kids keep advising me to do. I don’t eat, sleep or exercise as well as I used to–if at all–before kids. Before twins. Before special needs. Most of my friends–by the time their youngest hits 7–are recapturing bits and pieces of their lives as individuals, and as couples. I accept that it’s going to take me and mine a bit longer to reach that milestone. However, I still feel the pull to get back to some of those pre-kid things I/we used to love to do–kayaking, SCUBA diving, beach volleyball, going to the movies–versus spending most of my time taking care of my kids who, because they have special needs, require a tad more care-taking.

At this point, it feels almost biological… the pull to get back to ME, just a little bit. I’m thinking I might want a career again (paid appreciation), and some “free” time, AND more fun time–versus care taking/educating time–with my kids. Yep, I want it all… to have my cake and eat it too! But, the truth is, I CAN’T do it all, so me-time gets violently shoved off the calendar where it was optimistically penciled in.

Surely–and not a bit begrudgingly–I’m meant to take care of my children first and foremost. I’m OK with that! I brought them into this world and it would be irresponsible to jump ship–even for a moment without appropriate coverage (ahhh, there’s the catch… to have help)–before they can fly solo. I’m talking about basic needs: feed, clothe, shelter, educate (yes, education is a basic need without which there can be no independence). I work, not to pay for gymnastics, karate, dance, art or music lessons, but to help pay for heat, electricity, the car and the house. I take care of my kids and I manage two IEP-driven educations and another complicated by 504 accommodations & mods. Heck, we all know the education piece by itself is a full-time job. Hubby works late into the night so afternoon homework and evening child care responsibilities are mine alone. School days are devoted to work and weekends are family time (when we’re not working on this old house, which NEEDS significant attention).

The wee hours of the morn–when, like this morning, I should be sleeping but I’m contemplating my choices instead–is the only time I could possibly escape for some me-time. And, I would be sacrificing much-needed sleep and this occasional good-for-my-soul, sunrise-tinted contemplation (important)… to go to the gym instead (also important). Perhaps my choice this morning reflects a greater need for peace of mind over strength of body, for now.

So, when and how do I fit me-time in? And PLEEEASE don’t tell me to”make ME the number one priority.” My kids are my number one priority–that’s not going to change as their lives and well-being depend on it. And, yes, I know I am important or I wouldn’t be wasting my precious time bemoaning how little me-time I get. I want to know how YOU do it? HOW do you FIT me-time into your crazy busy life?

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