A good story, I learned in school, should start in medias res — in the middle of the matter, jumping right into the action. A law I don’t always follow, as a writer, although I try.
But this blog post is not about writing; it’s about life.
Right now I am feeling very much “in the middle of things”; life, always busy, has picked up its pace to an almost crazy degree over the last month, and I’m finding it hard to keep up.
Everything was already pretty crazy before my husband, love of my life and the person I rely on for, well, almost everything, got hit by a car while crossing a pedestrian crosswalk on his way to work Monday morning. Fortunately he is alive and well, but very stiff and sore, needing a lot of extra help and not able to do much around the house. Believe it or not, I already had this blog post about feeling overwhelmed and up to my neck, written before this happened, so as you can imagine, having my helpmeet become a semi-invalid, with the attendant worries and concerns, has only made things busier and crazier.
Up until Jason’s accident, the biggest thing I was trying to get used to was that our beloved Aunt Gertie, who lives next door to me and is stubbornly indepedent at 96, had a fall a few weeks ago and is suddenly requiring a lot more “eldercare,” which is taking up both a lot more of my time and mental energy than usual. Add to that a book deadline that I’ve been plugging away at, and the fact that my also-beloved children, at 10 and 13, require a lot of time and energy too. I’m coming to the conclusion that parenting pre-teens and teens is more exhausting than any stage of parenting since toddlerhood — obviously they are a lot more independent physically, but the emotional level of neediness and exhaustion is higher now than at any time since the Terrible Twos.
Oh, and I have a job too, right?
Somedays, the only way I get through is with this little mantra that I repeat to myself, trying to focus on the positives. Admittedly, things like Jason’s accident don’t really have upside (except for the obvious: it could have been much, much worse and I’m extremely grateful it wasn’t). But most of the other things keeping me busy are the natural result of having people in my life who need and depend on me.
So, when I feel overwhelmed these days, I tell myself, “Someday, you’ll have the time you want — time all to yourself, time to rest, with no demands placed upon you. And when that day comes, you’ll look back with longing at today, at the time when you were living in the middle of things. You’ll remember 2011 fondly as the time when both kids were living at home and needing your full-time attention, when Aunt Gertie was still alive, when your parents were relatively healthy and active, when you had that great job at The Murphy Centre you loved so much. Today is difficult, but someday, you’ll miss the very things that take up your time right now.”
Some people think it’s morbid to think like this. I don’t. For me, it’s absolutely necessary to keep things in perspective and keep counting my blessings. I’ve always looked at things this way — cherish what you have now, even if you want to complain about it, because you’re lucky to have it at all.
The thing is, right now I’m having to remind myself of that multiple times every day.
But still — surely the only thing worse than everyone needing you too much, would be feeling that nobody needed you at all?