Grey’s Anatomy uses that line from Ellis Grey with some regularity, and this summer I fully understand why.
No, I haven’t experienced a devastating plane crash, a traumatic shooting, or endless love triangles. But the frantic pace of life itself has left me dizzy, disoriented, and more than a little nauseated.
I’ve always been busy. I like being busy. I even take pride – however misplaced – in my ability to juggle multiple priorities. But lately I am simply overwhelmed.
We’ve had the end-of-school festivities, a trip to the beach, a big birthday for our son, swim lessons, play dates, t-ball games, all while attempting to keep our jobs. I’ve got artwork still piled up from two months ago, thank you notes that need writing, numerous maintenance appointments that need scheduling and work assignments by the dozen.
Our family calendar is a jumble of colors and notes that is almost indecipherable. My husband and I require logistics meetings to keep everything straight.
Every day my children beg me to take them to the park or the pool to play a game. I’d like to say that I stop what I’m doing and pay attention to them. I’d like to say I always have my priorities in line. But, that’s just not reality.
I tell them “maybe tomorrow” or “we’ve got lots to do today.” I’ve used this last line enough that my daughter recently said, “Mom, we always have too much to do.” Sweet child, you have no idea how right you are.
So, I find myself asking, “Is this life?” No time to breathe and no time to think. A series of endless activities that keeps me too busy to think straight? Too many items on the “to do” list. Too many social expectations. Too many things we have to do and not enough that we should do.
How do we reorganize our priorities? How do we focus on what is truly important? How do we at least slow down the carousel?
If I had those answers I would probably be writing my own self-help book, and possibly meditating on a mountaintop. But, here’s what I do know and what I am struggling to remember.
Life is short. We have choices.
This summer I am striving to be present with my kids, my friends and my family. Instead of blind dedication to my “to do” list, I’m trying to set aside those things that can wait and focus on spending time with those I love.
It’s an imperfect art, and I’m not very good at it yet. Sometimes the effort itself causes great angst in for my type-A personality. It’s worth it though. It is worth it to strive to remember what is truly important – what should be done. It is worth it to show my kids that they are at the top of my list.
So, if you spot me running around like a crazy person (yes, I still do that), do me a favor and remind me to take a breath. It’s going to take my whole village to get me used to this new normal.
Sara Lang has worked in North Carolina politics at the state, federal, and local levels for more than 15 years. A communications consultant, she lives in Cary with her husband, two young children, and a pampered dog.