I’m hoping to start grad school soon. By start I mean finish a degree I started almost 10 years ago. And by hoping I mean I need a big chunk of money by this Friday to actually start. Really it’s a big hope. A big project to take on. A big dream to finish up while we are planning a move to the North Island with about a million logistical details to work out, heading into my husband’s exam season (and you know how well I do not cope in that) and working 20+ hours a week, plus job searching in our new city to be able to make that move sooner rather than later. Through a series of very non random events I want to finish my degree via distance learning in the States, so I can teach at the University level. That means the school year starts as my husband finishes his school year. We talked about the reality of this and if we were both on board with this new endeavour I wanted to pursue. My husband is ultra supportive and never wanted me to be a stay at home doctor’s wife and mom because he knows me. He believes in my strengths. He understands I would drive him crazy if I did that, so for the sanity of him and our family he is a-okay with me having projects so he does not become my latest project. He did ask me if I thought I could realistically handle it plus working part time. I of course had no thought before I spoke, which is my Achilles heel, because what I said without thinking was the truth about me, but often not thinking before speaking helps me see what I am really thinking and feeling, but can cause a huge mess relationally. This time though, I saw a sliver of what I really wanted. I was quick to say yes I can do this because I am at my best when my life is filled and filled with things that I love and see as my strengths. The more full my day is the better I am. Better mom. Better wife. Better friend. Better employee. I had to learn how to set good boundaries though, and I am forever working on this. What if I saw boundaries not to protect myself, but to protect the relationships involved? This idea transformed me. I stopped pleasing people or what I thought pleased them and started protecting the relationship. If I said yes when I could not or did not want to meet the need I found myself resentful. If I initiated or responded to people with a yes or an offer to help when it compromised my closest core relationships, my husband and son, it not only made me a bit angry it disrupted my family relationships. I started seeing life through this new lens. This did not mean everyone was super happy with my new lens. I was less available for people or events. Oddly my fear of letting people down or people not liking me was diminished. All of a sudden my yes’ meant a resounding yes. My no’s were kind and clear and I not only was not afraid of disappointing people I was free. I have been trapped by fear of people for years. Years people, years. I’m almost 40 and I would say about 36 of those I ran my life thinking if I make this person or that person happy I would be happy. Devastatingly it not only rarely worked making them happy, but also, I was exhausted and surprise: not happy.
I do not love the city we currently live in, but I love who I have become in this city. I have found this new blending, not balance thing because I am a klutz in the physical world and balance is not my strong suit, but in the relational/emotional world I can not balance life either. Balance for me looked like what I just described, keeping everyone happy and being successful. So now I blend. I do not balance. I blend my love of coaching people with my son describing to him why I meet with people. I let him know my clients and them myself and family. I am very picky at who I let into my life because it is our life. If it drains me or is hard for my family I just say no. My house is sacred. I do not entertain a lot because it is where all three of us can just be. My husband is an introvert (and a medical student) so space and time is something he values so my extrovert son and my extrovert self respect that and make our home a holy place by keeping it unfrequented by many people. My son knows I work and knows I love it. He does not always love the time it takes but I love that he is learning he is not the centre of my universe. My work friends are my son’s friends, my client’s are his friends, my church friends are his friends and according to him this morning on the way to school, they like him more than me. Which is entirely truthful.
When my husband asked if I could do this if we received the funds for the first semester I quickly said yes. I have learned about myself in this city. I have been a student of me, while my husband learned of the human body I learned about humanity and my place in it. I am settled knowing that I work at my absolute best when I am busy. Not busy for busy’s sake. I used to do that to avoid my fears and insecurities. I was a pro at that. Olympic gold medal pro, but when I am busy with choices that I make that enhance me and my family I am like an unstoppable machine and weirdly enough I am happy. Interesting that thing ,happy, I was striving for came when I stopped striving and started making choices I really wanted. You can have it all. Your all might be different than another person’s all but you can have it all. You can be a surgeon and a mom like my gorgeous friend Hayley, who today takes her biggest exam of her career. It means she had less coffee dates and play dates but she is an amazing mom, wife and surgeon. You can have it all like my friends that stay at home because the love it. They thrive in creating home and spaces for their families. They might be tired more or do less because the choice to not get a pay-check for their work, but they have it all. You might be like my friend Sally who wanted to run a successful interior design business and have good relationships with her kids. She has some of the best relationships I have ever seen with her teenage children and she worked their entire lives. All the while hearing if you are a working mom your family and kids suffer. Clearly not the case. She has it all. Her all. Maybe each person’s all is unique like they are.
Whether or not the funds come in time to start school this month is irregardless. What I do know is blending works for me and my family, boundaries done right keep relationships healthy for me, and I am at my absolute best when I am moving forward. The next year holds so much change I cannot even fathom it or picture it, but I can picture myself in the midst, I have vision for my family and I can create a space for my son to thrive now that I know theses things. Blending over balance.