Knowing My Own Limits
It’s official, we have too much going on. The weekends are wearing me out. We are lucky if we have one full day to spend together as a family of four with two functioning parents one day a month. Me working retail to “bring in a bit extra” is officially feeling like the straw that broke the camel’s back. One income isn’t covering what needs to go out the door, so while he job hunts for a new job, I’ve been working part-time, but the time away just doesn’t balance with the extra money. It’s not worth it. We’ve made changes to save more and spend less. Sure, there are little things that we could continue to do, and we are continuing to do them, but at this point it really is just a matter of needing more money coming in. And I find it really hard to feel like the time away from my family almost every Saturday and Sunday and an evening or two during the week, unless I specifically ask for the day off, is making all that much of a difference when I look at my meager paychecks.
The thing that both John and I understand entirely too deeply is our own limits. We push them and bend them and at the end of the day, we know where the to stop. We’re homebodies and we love quiet time. We need time together as a family that is just downtime to relax and enjoy each other. And we’re barely squeaking that in lately and when we do, it has to be planned around with the preface of, “Ok, Saturday morning we’re doing nothing but hanging out together and going for a walk with the kids and the yard work and the other things we’ve been waiting to do are going to have to wait a bit longer.” It’s wearing us down in a slow, melancholy way. We argue. We are angry. We take things out on one another for absolutely no reason other than needing to just get out tons of feeling and knowing that we never ever want our children to see it or feel the brunt of what is currently on our shoulders.
I can feel the stress and anxiety creeping into my bones. It’s always present on some level, but just seems to be increasing lately. I can feel it in the shortness of my temper and my breath. The increase in moments when I just have to stop and close my eyes for a minute. The moments when I call my husband in the middle of the day to just talk to him and feel the tears stinging my eyes the second I hear his voice. The increase in the number of days per week that I lay down and take a nap with my little ones in the afternoon.
I am not okay with functioning like this – this state of just stumbling from one day to the next with a thousand thoughts and stresses swirling through my mind constantly. Not being fully present for my children, then being annoyed when they’re extra persistent to get my attention. It’s unbelievably unfair to them and I don’t want to be this way for my family. Especially not because of something so mundane as money.
I know that the days that are our best days are the most ordinary days. Days filled with slow breakfast and coffee for mom. Playing outside in pj’s before we even get dressed. A walk to the park or playing for a while with friends. Good, long naps in the afternoon. Playing outside in the late afternoon. Dinners that have been thought about early in the day and not thrown together at the last minute out of stress. Time for book reading before bed that involves a whole stack of books and a lot of snuggling.
I know that the stresses aren’t going to go away, but choosing to take advantage of the time that we have and squeezing in beautiful, slow life moments rather than a whole bunch of “stuff” is where I need to focus my energy.
I called work today and asked to make myself unavailable on Sundays. I also looked at our calendar and took off two of the activities we were planning to do this week. Having one day a week set that we know that we all have together as a family will help. So will taking an extra day or two this week to just stay home and regroup after a long weekend and catch up on some reading and cleaning and laundry. Taking time together to remind ourselves that it will all be okay. The this is what matters most in life.
It’s so difficult for anyone to figure out a balance between work and personal life. Throwing anyone else, especially children and a spouse, into the mix just adds exponential levels of complication. I know it’s taboo to discuss it, but I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that I KNOW that there are many people out there feeling the same things that our family is feeling. Why does it make us all cringe to hear about others’ financial struggles? When one income isn’t enough, what do you do? Where do you draw the line between being willing to sacrifice and do without for the sake of what you feel is the right decision for you to function as a family and having that cause too much stress to make it worthwhile? How do you make the decisions that are right for your family? How do you decide where you draw the line at your own limits?