The kids will be coming back home soon - only 2 weeks left. I’m actually pretty excited about having them back with me. I miss the little buggers.
One of my goals that I’d like to complete before they return is to really think about the rhythm of our quarter/months/weeks/days. What are the activities they will be participating in? How will our weeks be structured? What are our goals, and how will we achieve them?
It’s something I try to do every season, and have been less and less diligent about lately. I feel like I need it now more than ever. My life has been way too hectic lately, and I have to be careful to be intentional about my time. Oddly enough, creating a rhythm in which I know all of my needs are sustained can ensure that I’m not rushing through hectic moments, because I am certain I have time set aside for more fulfilling activities later.
To create this kind of loose schedule, I start by thinking wide-angle and then narrow the scope. I actually get out a calendar and plan out the big events that I already know about, just so I can keep an eye on them as I’m deciding on the other activities I want to schedule. There are always events that recur on a monthly or weekly basis, and I piece those into the puzzle.
For me, the fun part is planning the rest of the day. I don’t usually actually follow an extremely specific daily or weekly schedule (says the person who just admitted to actually creating a personal schedule a quarter at a time) because I tend to get bored with that (although I think it would probably be more efficient) but I find that if I get very specific in my schedule, I at least know I’ve made time for all of my priorities at whatever frequency and duration I have determined they deserve.
(If you want to hear me get uber nerdy about this topic, I will tell you that I have defined 7 major priority areas on my life: Kids, Art/Education, Fitness, Work, Friends/Family, Household (aka CLEANING), and Self Care. I have a time budget that I use to make sure I’m spending appropriate amounts of time on each of those priorities on a regular basis. hahaha.)
When all is said and done, I end up with an Excel spreadsheet of my life, with time blocked out for all of my activities, and the remainder of the time divided up among my priorities. :)
I haven’t started this process now. I’m doing some task management stuff for work, and it gets to be too much after awhile…but I’m actually looking forward to doing this work. That, along with painting Cole’s room and designing curriculum plans, are going to keep me pretty busy until their return.
Sometimes I forget about silence. Often I forget to go slow. Swimming helps. You can’t wear earbuds while swimming. Well, maybe you can, but I don’t have any such fancy earbuds. So you are left alone with the sound of the water mixed with brief intervals of shrieking pool children. And thoughts.
My thoughts while swimming lately have been all about going slow. It seems to be a theme in my life lately. Not that I’m good at it, but I get a lot of reminders. The bumper sticker with the quote about the blessings of being unhurried. Various songs that recur in walking mixes. And swimming.
I have always admired distance swimmers. Or those people you see at the pool who endlessly propel themselves from one end of the pool to the other in silence, with a gliding lack of water resistence. And while I have been a swimmer most of my life, I have never fully achieved a swimming zen. It has always been important for me…in fact, irresistable, to swim fast. Which means I lose energy. Which means I can’t swim as long. Which makes a trip to the pool seem silly. Why get all decked out to spend 15 minutes to exhaustion and have to pack it all up to come home?
This year, things are different. I don’t know if it’s because I am aging, and therefore forced to go slower, or if I’m fatter, so I float better, or if I have a better body wisdom, or if maybe I just have better endurance, but I seem to be able to swim for a very long time before I’m exhausted. Longer than I can remember being able to swim since I was on the swim team pre-high school. On those days where we would swim lap after lap after grueling lap, all in a line, until we thought we would keel over, and then tread water in the diving pool, and then swim more laps, and then go home. Famished.
I spend my extra time in the water thinking about my form. I’m primarily a breaststroker, so I alternate between that and freestyle. I focus on my toes. Are they pointed and flexed at the appropriate times? Am I timing my stroke to take maximum advantage of the momentum of my kick. If I am trying not to swim quickly, I want to swim efficiently. I focus on form and technique until I’m so focused that I’m unfocused - or focused on nothing. And just swimming.
Just swimming in silence, and slowness.
Having the guys go off to their dad’s for a month is something I have been looking forward to for some time. It’s part of the parenting agreement, and the first few years after the divorce, it was honored by The Other Parent. (And here I don’t want to sound like a bitter ex-spouse, but I think it’s important for me to provide some background.)
The first year The Other Parent took the children, I was pretty much a wreck over it for almost the entire time. I was nervous and worried and unsure about the whole arrangement. It feels like C was really young, and very much a mama’s boy, and I worried about that bond. And M was just starting to become good and resentful of the fact that, probably in his mind, his baby brother made his mom and dad split up. And I worried about that dynamic. But it turned out OK, no one sustained any apparent damage, and that extended visit became something I looked forward to, although it made me somewhat blue, as a time that I could rest, relax, clean, plan, organize, and prepare for another busy year. Not to mention create, move, socialize, and m o v e t h r o u g h l i f e a t a m u c h s l o w e r p a c e….
I’m not going to talk about the years that the summer visitation didn’t happen. Suffice to say it was frustrating to spend all year busting my ass working, educating, taxiing, organizing, curriculumizing, mediating, (refereeing!), and chore charting only to have the other parent tell me “I’m sorry, I have to work this summer, so I won’t be able to take the children.”
But I said I wasn’t going to go in a bitter direction, and I fear I’m heading there…
What I want to say has nothing to do with that, anyway. Hell, I don’t even know what I want to say. What I want to say is it was damn hard to say goodbye to those little beasts today. I hope they understand that it’s not so much that I look forward to NOT having them around as I just look forward to not having to be responsible for all of that other stuff for a little while. To focus on me and what I am interested in, so I am better able to focus on them and what they are interested in when they return. To give them an opportunity to observe their father facing the challenges of every day parenting, as they are men and might also have to face these challenges. And, ultimately, it doesn’t matter how I feel about it, anyway. It is.
And because it is, the best thing that I can do in response to it is take advantage of the free time to work on some projects that have been pushed to the back burner. To work on writing, as well as all of the observation, interaction, reflection, and risk that comes with it. To clean. To plan. To organize. And to patiently wait for my boys to come home.