The Joy of Juggling
At the start of this week I wasn’t feeling very good about myself. I was facing a week of extraordinary juggling of roles and responsibilities, and to put it plainly, I was grumpy. Grumpy that I had so much on, grumpy, even, that I had said yes to some of the things I had. Let’s take a look at the week that was and how it went, because it’s clear from the title of my post that I found unexpected (or perhaps expected) joy in much of what I did.
Monday morning: Go to baking store with four year old. Spend $120 on cake making equipment for her birthday cake. Perhaps I should have outsourced? Never mind. Browsing aisles of coloured fondant and plunger cutters gave me so much glee it almost felt illegal.
Monday lunchtime: Meeting with Kindergarten teachers about the nut allergy incident from last week. Get handed a bunch of forms to fill out. Brain explodes slightly, but am grateful for the opportunity to discuss this very serious issue, which has now been resolved.
Monday afternoon: Submit journal article to none less than the Lancet (which has a 99% rejection policy). Get quite excited when I don’t get rejected within the first 3 hours.
Monday evening: Frost first birthday cake, followed by work on conference presentation until 11pm. Exhausted.
Tuesday: Clinic. Am grumpy because of impending teleconference at 7:30pm. Think of pulling out.
Tuesday afternoon: Teleconference cancelled. Mood lifts! Text husband, who immediately suggests we go and watch the Avengers.
Tuesday night: Go out for dinner and watch Avengers Age of Ultron, which was tolerable because of my favourite character Ironman was in it. Kids are with Mum who is visiting us from interstate. Eat a choc top. Bed at 12:30am. Yawn!
Wednesday morning: Parent helper morning at kindergarten. Bring birthday cake along. Four year old is very excited, says it is a “really special day”. Listen to some awful knock knock jokes. Learn some Italian songs. Four year old cries when I leave, makes quite a scene. Wonder if I have done the right thing.
Wednesday afternoon: Supervision meeting with my Honours student, followed by practice presentation for upcoming conference talk. Get lots of “feedback”. Realise I have to change half my presentation. Brain starts to throb slightly.
Wednesday evening: intend to go for a run but am too tired. In bed when the kids go to sleep. Paper is still not rejected by the Lancet! Get a glimmer of hope.
Thursday morning: Work on presentation.
Thursday afternoon: Hairdresser appointment. Finish reading Brene Brown’s book.
Thursday evening: Run followed by dinner and then frost second birthday cake which, to my relief, was a success. Fondant is easier than I thought to work with! Why have I not done this before? Consider offering to make birthday cakes for our our friends and family. Slap myself a little bit.
Friday morning: Paper is rejected by the Lancet. Resubmit to another journal.
Friday lunchtime: Give a tutorial. Thoroughly enjoy being around “young people”. Their jokes are funny! Feel a little bit young again. Also feel thankful that I had my grey highlights covered the day before.
Friday afternoon: Home early to make decorations from fondant with my four year old, to put on the cake. The cake is finally done and all ready for the big party on the weekend!
Well that was my week. Looking back, it was such a wonderful and full week, and I came out of it feeling really really good. Why? Because I had made the decision to make every single scrap of my day count, to spend it only doing things that were meaningful, rejuvenating, important, or that would make someone else important to me happy (or me happy). And the teleconference, for a voluntary position on a committee, was one of the things I had reluctantly said yes to but felt that I shouldn’t. Once that was taken out of the equation for the week, the rest of my week was authentic, honest and very satisfying, inasmuch as it involved jumping (leaping?) from one role to another.
I feel like I am giving an Oscar speech now, because I cannot do this juggling without flexibility. The nature of what I do is not time-based but outcome-based. This makes my week very flexible, apart from my clinic day, and allowed me to take two hours off to volunteer to sharpen pencils at kindergarten. Of course it’s not about sharpening pencils but about doing something that meant a lot to my daughter. But yes, thank you flexibility, and may you grace the work weeks of everyone else.
I also cannot do this juggle without a healthy disdain for meals that require hours of preparation. Meals this week consisted of baked salmon (in the oven and off to the gym!) and tacos with grilled pork and guacamole. In the big picture, time doing things I love is more important than spending hours in the kitchen, but I still do pump out home-cooked meals for every single weeknight.
Thirdly, sleep. I skimped on it for the first two nights and started to feel pretty grizzly. Then amazing after catching up on sleep. Sleep is the working mama’s secret ingredient.
Fourthly, fun and self care. Respect for the “date night”. Making the time in a busy week to get my hair done. I’ve given lip service to self care before and this week I had to force myself to pay attention to it (or rather the state of my hair forced me).
And lastly. The realisation that I am juggling very very good things and even things that bring me joy. Sitting in on an kindergarten Italian lesson and laughing at four-year-old jokes? Joy. Making birthday cakes? Joy. Even the tutorial, tacked on to the end of the week and seen as yet another time stealer, was joyful because I was teaching, and because it was fun. So I am filled with joy and gratitude, on this Saturday morning, for the week that was. An amazing week of work and love. And choc-tops. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a birthday party to organise :)
PS. Sunday evening. Party was a success. I cannot believe she is almost five. They do grow up fast… after the toddler years :)