I will be the first person to tell you that, despite whatever challenges you have, you can achieve your goals. I will tell you that no matter how busy you are, you can find a way to find the time to do the work. I will tell you to fight.
But I’m not going to do that right now. Right now I’m going to tell you that sometimes it’s ok not to. And that sometimes you have to just let shit go.
I am a person that packs a lot of living into 24 hours and I’m not afraid of long days and hard work. Swimming competitively for most of my childhood got me used to early alarms and pre-dawn workouts. I trained for a couple Ironmans during law school. I know what it’s like to overschedule myself and figure out how to make it all happen. I believe that it’s possible.
But I am human and sometimes I give in.
In the first few months after having a baby my husband and I celebrated the fact that neither of us had to travel for work. We settled into a groove that lasted a good six months. We worked and worked out. Everything felt balanced and everything felt possible. We were rocking parenthood. And then he found himself in a new position at work that required travel. A lot of travel.
And I found myself solo parenting a lot of the time.
Sometimes he’d be gone one week a month. Other times it was a lot more. During the worst of it, he’d be out of town for back to back to back weeks with short trips (24? 48 hours?) home on the weekend.
I know that there are people that have it worse. I know that single parents and people with military spouses go far longer stretches than I do without any help. But it didn’t make it any easier. It was hard. It was hard because with him constantly coming and going we were never able to settle into a groove or get any kind of schedule down. It was hard because I missed my husband and my kid missed his dad. It was hard because raising the child, cleaning the house, caring for the animals, mowing the lawn, and basically keeping all of our heads above water alone was just plain tough.
And it was hard because while my husband was out having successes and achieving his goals, it was exceedingly difficult to pursue my own.
I fought as hard as I could and made the most of the time I had but, to be honest, I let some things slide. Work deadlines were always, without fail, met but I didn’t pursue as many projects as I wanted. I stayed active and healthy but I didn’t train for anything big. My ultrarunning and endurance mountain biking goals went unfulfilled. My kid and I ate more frozen tamales from Trader Joe’s than I’d like to admit. My house was almost always a mess.
And I felt like a bit of a hypocrite. Because I will tell you that, if you want it badly enough, there is always a way.
But at some point I cried “uncle”. At some point I realized that surviving was enough and that it was ok for the goals to change as the situations did. I put the lofty dreams aside for a while and shifted the focus to enjoying my time with my kid and to getting outside in whatever way we could. I realized that all of this “whatever it takes, no matter what” mumbo jumbo puts a lot of unncessary pressure on people and that it incites an awful lot of guilt. I realized that sometimes it’s ok to say “this sucks and my time will come … but my time is not now.”.
I can wax poetic about this now because this time is officially in the past. My husband has accepted a new job that won’t involve any travel. He’ll be home. We’ll have our life and our family back and I can step things up once again. I can hardly wrap my brain around that chapter of our lives being over.
I can hardly believe that now, finally, I can get back at it. And that now the excuses are gone.