Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When something's got to give

This fall has been full of lessons for me.  Lessons about maintaining my health.  Lessons on making time for relaxation.  Lessons concerning how fast my children are growing.  The latest lesson I have yet to conquer is how to recognize, and subsequently respect, my own limits.

But I'm trying.

My baby sister got married this weekend.  The day after her wedding Bean turned 4.  Two weeks from now MY baby Inchie turns 2.  Given the craziness of the month, I combined their birthday celebrations into one happy party.  I took that as proof that I was finally getting the hang of not overextending myself.  Maybe I was learning my lesson.

Regrettably one less party didn't seem to lessen the load.  At we entered into wedding weekend, I felt out of control.  Work had been accomplished that week through force of will.  There was nothing organic or sustaining about the energy used.  I have a plaque in my office which reads "You will because you can."  It's meant to be empowering I think, but I've started reading it as a warning.  I can do a lot of things but maybe I shouldn't do them all at once.

I wasn't keeping up.  My head was full of unfinished tasks.  So I made a list.  Better out than in.
  • Make Dinner
  • Set tomorrow's clothes
  • Pack Lunches
  • Pack Snack (M,W)
  • Prep Dinner for tomorrow
  • Fold laundry and Put away clean clothes
  • Gather up dirty clothes and Swap loads
  • Sort mail
  • Wipe off table
  • Pick up living room
  • Pack gym bag for the morning
I showed the list to my husband.  He didn't like the list.  He said I had too many things on it and I was going to discourage myself.  He was right.  That list is too long.  But someone has to do the work.  I tried following the list each day  for a week and I made little progress.

I still wasn't accounting for all the things I need to do on a weekly basis.  They weren't on the list.  And I grew more and more discouraged and frustrated.   My head filled back up again and I pretty much threw in the towel.  I selected our clothes for the weekend from the dirty piles in my laundry room and washed them all at once.  They came out of the dryer, into the suitcase and we departed for the wedding.  I do not like living that way.  Whatever feeling exists beyond overwhelmed is where I was at.  And it started to show.

After numerous heated exchanges, I finally got to the heart of the matter with my husband.  I needed to divest of something.  Ignoring the list to start with we decided that my primary household responsibilities were Finances, Scheduling, Food and Clothing.  My husband took care of  Dishes, Trash, House Upkeep and Yard Work.

Strangely enough, my husband was extremely hesitant to take over any of my responsibilities.  My trend is to control everything to meet my expectations.  It keeps life stable.  It also keeps me very very busy; I'm learning - too busy.  Trying to take a task from me is possibly like trying to cook a nice meal for a gourmet chef.  It's just not fair.

But it was necessary.  As of this week, Food is no longer mainly my responsibility.  I still cook dinner in the evening because I'm the first one home.  My husband is in charge of menu planning, grocery shopping, packing lunches and nightly dinner prep.  I cook what he tells me to cook and make requests.

I haven't driven him to quit yet.  I hope I don't.  When we finally agreed on what our new delineation of duties was I felt like I could breathe for the first time in weeks.  When I turned the cleaning of my house over to professionals, it took me about 3 months to stop being stressed about it.  Hopefully I learned my lessons during that divesting.

We are three days in.


  1. Sharing the load is tricky. I like the feeling of controlling everything. That's because I like control. What I don't like is being grumpy. I get grumpy when I have too much to do.

    Being in control of everything is a sure way for me to get overwhelmed and lonely.

    It does take me awhile to surrender because for better or worse, I feel my identity attached to those jobs.

    On the plus side, now that I, like you, have begun to "share the wealth" of responsibilities" I feel more sense of community with my family. We dance around the kitchen or tell jokes. What was once "a job" is now play.

  2. I learned to say "NO" - not just to others but to myself. Over-whelmed, over-the-limit, over-worked, over-tired, over-extended makes me UNDER-happy! Say "NO" to hectic chaos - even it is sparkling clean and say "YES" to sloppy smiles and raggedy relation! Ahh...feel that weight lifting off your shoulders! :)