On Wednesday morning, I read an article in the November issue of O Magazine about flexibility. The author had never been a flexible person and went to see a physical trainer whose specialty was stretching to achieve greater flexibility. He explained to her (I’m paraphrasing) that most people’s muscles are imbalanced, as a result groups of muscles over compensate for other muscle groups. When this happens you overuse certain muscles, which leads to tightness and imbalance. The trainer put her through a series of stretches and exercises to help release the tightened muscles and her flexibility instantly improved. My thoughts in reading the article were #1 releasing those tensed up muscles must feel so amazing and #2 I wish it were only as easy as a few deep stretches.
Later that afternoon, I was invited to a work dinner with a client. I was given about an hour’s notice and my boss encouraged me to go. Jokingly I said to her “When in 11 years have I ever been able to do anything with only an hour’s notice?” The answer is….never. I am fortunate that she completely understands, being a working mom herself, as did the client (who ended up cancelling at the last minute anyway). Little did they know how full my night already was with softball practice, homework, dinner (somewhere in there) and a last minute run to Target for supplies for the science project.
The very next night, I stopped by a going away happy hour for one of my team members. I knew it would be a quick stop, but it was important to me to stop by and wish her well. I was envious of everyone’s frosty drinks but knew that I had to be getting home. I picked up the kids, everyone had a great day and homework was done – hooray! As I waited for the dinner to cook, I caught up on Facebook. A friend was tagged in a picture of a list of the 5th & 6th grade Spelling Bee participants (of which her daughter was representing one of the 5th grade classrooms). I looked at the rest of the list to see if there was anyone else’s name I recognized……..when all of a sudden I saw my daughter’s name next to her class. How exciting! I rushed into the other room to ask her about it and her face lit up with a big smile. Yes, she had forgotten to tell me but it was true, she was in the Spelling Bee! We celebrated, this was so exciting. A couple minutes later I asked the telltale question -when is it? It’s tomorrow. At 8:45am. My heart sank. What? (My first reaction is always panic, like that feeling when your alarm doesn’t go off and you wake up late.) I have meetings in the morning and it’s really late for me to try to change them now. She started to cry and I wanted to cry. Thoughts of frustration, anger, sadness and hopelessness ran through my head. How could she have forgotten? What am I supposed to do? I can’t possibly miss this, can I? I took a deep breath, apologized and told her I would do everything I could to make it. In my head I knew it all came down to a choice.
My life is not flexible. My life works like the body works, each muscle playing it’s part and compensating for the ones that can’t do it on their own. It’s not easy and though I may write this blog every week, I still struggle to find my own balance. The key for me is that it is all about choices. In every situation you have a choice. Every day you get to decide what is important to you for that day. What is important to you in the morning may shift and change in the afternoon. Those shifts and changes are ok as long as you are the one making the choice, rather than letting another person or situation make the choice for you. The thing about choices is that there are consequences. The consequences are inevitable. Whenever you have to choose one thing over another you risk disappointing someone or making them angry with you or putting yourself at a disadvantage. When you weigh the options and make a choice own it, the good and the bad and be unapologetic. Don’t commiserate over what could have been or replay it over and over in your head. Don’t judge yourself for the choice that you make. Make the choice that is right for you.
The choice I made was to email my coworker, explain my situation and ask if there was a way she could cover me in the meeting we had at 9am. I knew that if she said no, then I would go to the meeting and miss that part of the spelling bee. I knew that if she said yes, it could mean losing credibility with the client or more work for me, but this was my choice, I had to own it either way. Fortunately for me, she emailed me back about an hour later confirming she’d be at the meeting. In the end it all worked out.
The moral of my story today - you can’t do it all. It’s physically impossible. Instead you have to make choices. Before you make those choices you have to dig really deep within yourself and decide what is important to you, you and only you. Only when you are clear on your own intentions, your own flexibility, will you be able to make the choices that are best for you.
One more thought – working on your “flexibility” is hard! As you can see, even after working on it for a couple years I still have moments of struggle. But the good news is that along the way I’ve found tools that really help and I’d love to share them with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat more about how you can find your flexibility.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.