There will not be that ideal moment to write; when all ripe tomatoes are cleared from the weighted, fragrant vines, when the laundry is all tucked into drawers and relaxing onto hangers, when the children are deep into quiet, peaceful play, and the to do list is a crossed-off list of merry accomplishment. Such a moment would last, at best, a span of minutes, and so I write anyways. I just left to help a frustrated toddler remove his wooden cars from his little barn toy where he had hopelessly wedged them.
Financial burdens led me this past year into multiple jobs and homeschooling my five year old, with a baby and toddler at home as well. I did babysitting at a local church, I became a direct care worker for a disabled person, and I continued my soap business, albeit without a partner, who moved out of state. Though there was love in my offering, I felt, and still feel, hollowed out by the weight of the work of that year. The children I cared for gave me their smiles and their joy, and I love them. The person I care for with a disability has given me concrete perspective on suffering and perseverance. My small soap company has given me just enough to stave off needing loans to pay for our childrens’ education, and gave me the opportunity to grow in my craft. All these good things, and yet, there was too much, leaving not enough of me to breathe. Not enough of me to connect at day’s end with my kids and husband and friends. I missed the kids’ sports, social events, and quiet evening time playing games around the table, because I was working or falling asleep standing up.
Activities give, but busyness takes, and I’ve found that I cannot live well with what it takes. We are taking steps to reduce my work. We enrolled the homeschooled kiddo, and I declined to babysit this year. I put in a request to drop to one morning a week for direct care. I wrote to one of my wholesale customers that I’d be unlikely to make the quantity of soaps they’d requested (this was a sorrow as I love the shop’s owner and have sold at their location for years). I am fully owning that I’m one person and that I can’t breathe; that I require open stretches of time that aren’t stalked and menaced by a workload that endlessly intones, “back to work, back to work”. I need my energy that has been consumed by busyness; I need it to be a “horsey” for my baby to ride on, I need it to cook wholesome food for my growing kids, I need it for cheering on my kids while they play sports. They have first dibs on what I have to give.
I don’t want to miss these years. I don’t want to produce a thousand bars of soap if it means I’m too tired to read a bedtime story to these little ones who grow an inch every time I look away. I’m putting a stop to the madness that can be stopped, so that I can reasonably deal with the madness that can’t.