Monday, October 13, 2008

'Til Death Do Us Part

I'm taking Pastoral Care right now. In our last class we were doing an exercise on loss. Our instructor asked us to list these things: the 4 most important living people to us, the 4 most important roles we fill, the 4 most important abilities we possess, and the 4 most important material objects in our lives. Then, as he read a scenario, we were asked to cross off some of the items to represent losing those people/things. We were allowed to choose which things we crossed off, but we had to choose from the list. Early on, it was pretty easy. Although I would not voluntarily surrender my house, car, computer, or piano (the 4 objects I decided were most important to me), I didn't have to think very hard to decide that I would much rather give those things up that one of my children. No sweat. But he kept going. I was asked to cross off more things. Before long I had crossed off all my abilities (nurturing, listening, teaching, and making music) and two of my roles (daughter and friend). He announced that we had to mark off just one more item and we would be finished. I looked over my remaining choices: my people (Mike, Jackson, Ei, Aaron) and my roles (wife and mother). I cringed and marked off wife.

I am fortunate that this was only an exercise. It is not necessary for me to actually choose what things are most important in my life because I have room enough for all my people, roles, abilities, even material possessions. Or do I? Several months ago I wrote about all the balls I had up in the air and how I can't possibly catch them all at the same time (HERE). Individually, no problem. But all at the same time? No way. And it's still true. I haven't figured out any magic solutions recently. So, the truth is that I don't have enough time for everything and everyone. Some decisions are easy (I'll forfeit a day on the computer for a day at the zoo with my kids any day). Some are not. I realize that, without really meaning to, I've neglected my marriage. I crossed off "wife" for the purpose of keeping "mother" on the list. It's not that I'm having marital troubles. Far from it. My husband and I are perfectly happy together (well, at least I think we are). But in thinking about this I began to worry that we'll be one of those couples that drops their kids off at college and looks at each other like, "Who are you and where did you come from?" If I were giving someone else advice I would suggest a regular date night (monthly, at least) and setting aside time in the evenings for each other. It always seems like I'm having to make that big choice though (wife or mother?), and mother wins every time. It's so stressful for me to leave the baby (and the big boys, for that matter), so date night sounds scary. And the evenings are devoted to laundry and packing diaper bags and homework for our classes. There's just never enough time. So, wife gets crossed off. "Someday," I think. Someday I'll have time for everything that's on my plate. How? I assume more hours will be added to the day. Or I'll give up sleeping. Probably not realistic. So, it's back to the juggling act. I've got to get better at this. Someone keeps throwing new balls into the routine. Me, you say? Why would I add to my already chaotic schedule? I see. I have got to cross off a few items to save the rest. Okay. Back to square one. Some are easy. Others are not. I get it. This isn't helping. But what if I just lightly crossed over one item, so that I could erase the scratch mark later? Would it be such a betrayal of my children to put them on the back burner on occasion so that I could focus on wife for a moment? And, I wonder, wouldn't it benefit my children if my marriage got some extra attention?

I know my husband reads my blog. He mentions it occasionally. He even once commented. If you didn't read it, you should. It was so very sweet. So, Mikey, bear with me. I know that I cross you off when I'm forced to choose. I know that I can't be easy to live with. But I love you. You are the best father I have ever known, the most amazing provider for us, and the person with whom I want to spend forever (even when you're a cranky old man). I'm lucky to have you. I'm trying. I am.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Aw, that post made me cry :( But in a good way

And hey, on date night? I'll totally watch those kids of yours :)