Seems like I start every blog post by mentioning how I never blog anymore, so I'll save us the time and not talk about it. It is what it is. =-)
A few days ago I was having an incredibly difficult time with life, and posted a sulky few sentences on facebook. This incited lots of beautifully kind messages from my beautifully kind friends, along with recommendations for books and other readings. My friends said to me exactly the kinds of things I would say to them in their moments of weakness. To read the comments left on that post, you'd think that I had led a life similar to Mother Teresa! And how could that not make me feel better? It did. The thing is, it those words didn't fix the problems I'm dealing with.
Writing is cheaper than therapy, so you're invited to my therapy session...
FULL TIME LIFE
Ball #1: Being a wife to my husband and a mom to four beautiful children is a full time job. So over-said. And so true. Quality time with each child; and the husband. Cooking. Cleaning. Taking hubby to/from work. Taking kids to/from everything. Shopping for groceries and toiletries--doing forget to make them the cheapest available AND organic (not)! Home maintenance. Haircuts. Making sure nobody stinks. Laundry (which should be a 4-letter word)! The list goes on and on. It never ends because when you get to the end of it you simply start at the beginning again.
Ball #2: Homeschooling. Homeschooling X 4. Homeschooling special needs kids. Homeschooling 4 on a budget of less than $200 per kid per year. I know some moms have this homeschooling lots of children thing down pat, but I don't. It was a lot easier when my littles where little; when my bigs were the only kids I really had to worry about. Now I've got 4 kids in "real" grades, with real academic goals. Three of four have real, verifiable academic differences that make their education much more complicated (at least for this mama). And the budget. Planning carefully for the next year takes up any "down time" the summer may otherwise promise. Homeschooling. Takes. Time.
Ball #3: The non-profit. Sometimes I feel like I'd spend less time on this "job" if I were running a medium to large size non-profit rather than a small non-profit. Then, I'm assuming, there would be a larger array of people on the team to call upon when there is a need within the organization. And then, I assume, all positions may not actually be volunteer. As it is, there are a very small number of very sweet volunteers that typically have full time jobs #1 and #2 above (or an actual traditional job!), and are therefore unable to always be there when a need arises. The buck stops with me. There is no limit to the number of hours I could spend on Eban Project each day. When jobs #1 or #2 might otherwise be "light" on occasion, the time is quickly gulped up by the work the Lord has put in front of me in Ghana.
The 4th Ball: It's this extra job that put me over the edge the other day. Finances were too tight. Something had to be done. So Eric and I decided that we should both look for other ways we could contribute to the household income. I could see the reason in this decision, and was in favor of this decision. Then, I began to feel the crushing pressure in my chest! As I delved more deeply into what would be required for me to build an online presence in order to do some freelance writing work, I realized it would be another fulltime job just preparing to hopefully add another fulltime job! C.R.U.S.H.I.N.G. P.R.E.S.S.U.R.E.
The thing is, I love all of my jobs. Well, parts of them anyway! Each of them is fulfilling to me, in a different way. After a day of being the best mom and wife I can be, I feel so very contented inside. "This is what you've always wanted to do Anita. And God has allowed you to do it." After a day where we've rocked out our homeschooling goals, I feel accomplished. "You have done right by your children today Anita. Your sacrifice has allowed them to receive an education they wouldn't have received in the public school system." After a day working on Eban Project stuff, I feel whole. My calling to be an international missionary has been somehow fulfilled (albeit untraditionally). I can feel the Lord's blessing, "Well done, good and faithful servant." In ALL of these things, my goal is to faithfully serve those that the Lord has put in front of me to serve. That makes it all the more painful when it becomes impossible to accomplish all of these things.
Maybe I am the odd duck. Maybe most other moms really can be a mom/wife fulltime and add homeschooling, volunteering, and other things as well without any of it suffering. But I'm not other moms. I've carried so much guilt throughout the years when people have said, "How do you do it all?" and inside I'm thinking, "I don't. I can't. Something is always going undone."
I can survive. I have learned to juggle life's duties so that most of the time nothing falls to the ground. Nothing totally falls, but I'm always on the edge of chaos. I think this must be why the prospect of adding another thing (the side work) caused me to breakdown. It would be adding another ball. Juggling three balls is different from juggling four balls. And really, I so love the idea of not juggling at all. Is that even possible?