So this is what having a slightly-more-than-part-time job means to me: I have finally reached my personal busyness limits. There is no space for cramming, no staying up late to finish what needs to be done because I already am staying up late, sometimes until 2:30, and still running into a daily wall of personal fail. "Taking a break" now means watching an episode of Glee while doing laundry. "Taking it easy" means going to bed before midnight. It's fascinating, invigorating, and soul-deadening all at the same time.
But, being busy gives me a good reason to say No, though I am still struggling with actually saying the word. Being busy also makes prioritizing a hell of a lot easier. Two weeks ago, while I was on deadline, my mom called. She was staying with us for Thanksgiving and was out running errands in my car, so I figured she was calling to check in. Except she was calling to tell me that she'd been the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Former me might have freaked out. Busy me blinked, then asked if she was okay. She was (whew). I asked if the car was drivable. It was. I asked if everything was under control, or if she needed my help. It was, the police were on site, and she didn't. I thanked her, the stars in the heavens, and went back to work. Everything turned out fine, she was unshaken, they caught the other driver, and I'm tooling around town in a snow-white minivan courtesy of the perpetrator's insurance while my own car gets fixed. All of which would also have happened, had I gotten agitated. But I no longer have time to get riled about that which is under control. Thank you, busyness.
Busy me is both more and less in touch with my body. Three weeks ago, I sprained my ankle by walking down the street while on a work conference call -- but no one on the other line ever heard a peep (though Jennyalice, who was a few paces away, wondered why I started hopping up and down on one leg since we were discussing matters more administrative than incendiary). I was in control! That same afternoon, while attempting to demonstrate that the pain did not get to me and yes of course I could entertain my friend and all of our children while both chatting and serving up group snacks, I misjudged a pupusa location and flash-seared my fingertips on our cast-iron skillet. Clearly, the distraction of being busy doesn't always agree with my body.
Since my laptop lets me work anywhere, I have to be careful about reining in Busy Me. Otherwise, I'll try to fit in a bit of work while making dinner. While watching Ugly Betty with Iz or Totoro with Leo or Dinosaur Train with Mali. While doing laundry. While supervising homework. While helping Leo do puzzles. While decorating the Christmas tree. I thought I was being an able juggler, but this past weekend Iz complained that I work too much, that I'm always working, and she hates it. So I'm thinking about shelving the laptop between school pickups and bedtime. And slightly panicking about losing those valuable interstitial work minutes.
The biggest struggle so far, though, is self-judgment. I'm far from the most busy person in my circle. Yet everyone else I know seems to be juggling more, and hitting all their deadlines. Perhaps I know too many superhumans? I'm not sure. I do know this will only get more interesting. Seymour is going to start traveling a lot for work (everything he's doing is damn cool; I entirely support his going). Leo is only going to get bigger. Iz is coming up on teenhood (please God no). Mali is experimenting with unrepentant defiance (not just towards me but towards her teacher). What are we going to do?
But despite my time challenges, our family situation remains an awesome one. Our kids are sweet and funny, and genuinely caring beings. We have good friends. We carve out time for the events that truly matter. We laugh a lot, we eat well, we are warm at night. I'll give this busyness another couple of months. I'll put away the laptop in the afternoons. And then I'll re-evaluate, because I don't want to be too busy to enjoy the wonderfulness that weaves in and out of my life, every day.