“I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life” – Maya Angelou
I’m not sure where I read this quote recently, as I can barely keep track of which socks I’ve worn, whether I sent that email or not, or if I took a shower in the past few days. But I have been thinking about it almost non-stop since this weekend. (If you posted this on your blog recently, then let me know, because I like to give credit where due.)
I want a great life for myself and my family. One that I envy other people the time to create for themselves. I want to slow down, savor those precious moments that are fleeting and hard to catch with the fast pace that most of us set for ourselves these days. I want to give all of myself to my daughter, to watch her grow and experience the world for the first time through her eyes. I want to make my house even more of a home than it already is, to focus on the details that make it so. I want to spend more time interacting with people rather than preparing for the next activity. All of the things that I value in life I want to bring to the fore, and shed those activities and events that are superfluous, that are the small things in life I can do without.
At the same time, I am a high school teacher. I encourage and inspire (or would like to think I do) on a daily basis. Whether my students realize it or not, every day I listen to them and do what is in my power to help them out. And as much as these children need help or are worthy of my time and energy no matter who they are or what background they come from, they are not my children.
That thought hurts, because they are awesome in so many ways. I want to continue to teach, yet teaching takes up so much of my time and energy, I have been spreading myself thin both at work and at home. I have long ago left behind the time where the stress motivates me to do as much as I can when I can to accomplish what needs to be done, where I am endowed with superhuman powers to make sure that everyone’s needs are fulfilled, including mine. I am now in the realm of feeling inept in all that I am doing, feeling brain dead and physically tired, and I am letting things bother me that would have rolled off my back not that long ago. I am a perfectionist in my work, whether in my family, my career, or my personal life. Yet I feel I am not doing a good job in any part of my life right now. Don’t get me wrong, I am a good mother, a good teacher, and a good wife, but I am not doing a complete job, the job I know I am capable of and that I want to be exemplary of my efforts. I have also passed the point at which I cut out all that is irrelevant and unnecessary, leaving only the key core of what needs to be accomplished. It still isn’t enough. I am surprised that I have not come down with a severe illness yet since I have been pushing myself so hard.
So now it is time for tough decisions. How much longer can I hold on, to see my obligations through? What am I truly capable of, and which values do I need to uphold while I slough off those that I just cannot physically and mentally maintain?