If you are a regular reader here, you know that I have two children whom I adore. I also have a mentally ill mother who is at times a third child and takes quite a bit of our energy. We have no other nearby relatives to help us during crazy times, although do have local family-by-choice. My husband Orchid’s work sometimes involves traveling and many times provides more erratic excitement than we would like. Still, we are thoroughly grateful that I am able to work part-time and provide some balance for the kids, and for us. Orchid is also a deacon of our church and so has additional responsibilities and time commitments for that.
I’m unsure how our lives compare to others in terms of commitments, responsibilities and energy consumed, and maybe it doesn’t matter. We are all endowed with a certain ability to deal with life’s requirements and in the end the weight of the load one must carry is subjective.
In our case, the balls we have in the air have left me with the realization that in this phase of my life, my primary role is that of glue. I am the family glue. Or maybe I am the slime that fills in the cracks. None of this reflects on Orchid’s fathering and husbanding – both of which he does fabulously – but more the reality that with all of these balls in the air, one of us needs to remain flexible enough to dive in and catch the extra ball tossed in, or the new crack created by wear. These unexpected needs happen more often than you’d think, particularly now that Sunboy is in school which has brought a tidal wave of new tasks. This “glue-slime-treading water in the tidal wave” role is the reason I chose my twitter alias @BeingMama. My personal talents and goals are eclipsed for the moment, but like all eclipses, I know this is temporary.
The truth is, I don’t feel I’m terribly good at all of this gluing and sliming and treading. In fact, I feel a person better at motherhood and managing family life and work might not need to spend as much energy as I do to make it all work as well as it does. Which isn’t to say that all works wonderfully, but rather things are almost always functioning. Thank goodness for time to keep things moving forward even if we wonder if we are.
All of this to say that today when I was again asked to teach a Sunday School class at our church, my regretful declining stirred the cauldron of emotions in me. Guilt. Incompetency. Confusion. Insufficiency. Alienation.Unworthiness. General ick.
It made me wonder if something was wrong with me that I felt I couldn’t handle a once-weekly class teaching kids for a year. I thought of so many excuses, and then I wondered if the excuses were an excuse. I discussed it with Orchid and he agrees it’s just too much for us now.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is say no to others and to stay in the shadows. No one sees what happens in the shadows or what it takes to make our way in the dark. Yet, being in the light and burning oneself out in the brightness doesn’t help anyone. At times, saying no to others is saying yes to yourself. And since shadows are personal, no one can judge when it’s time to step into the light, besides you.