Ken and I have just come out of a few crazy weeks, and I’ve been thinking a lot about space. As in: there isn’t any, at least in a marriage with young children, right?
My mom spent most of April living with us, which was great in some ways–I got to hang out with my mom, the kids got to see their grandmother and there was always another adult around to help out–and challenging in others, especially when you consider that Ken and I both work from home. Since I work out of a basement office/spare bedroom, this meant that I ended up moving all my work stuff up to a teeny desk in our bedroom, and working from there. Exciting, huh? Not really, if you saw the size of our bedroom, but hey, that’s another story.
Ken’s office, meanwhile, is out in the main room/open space area of our basement, which meant that any time my mom was going to or from her bedroom, she was walking through his office (and the bazillion conference calls he’s stuck in on a daily basis).
Now, keep in mind that Gabriel’s not in school yet, so in addition to all the people we had crammed into our once-upon-a-time spacious home, we were now trying to tune out the hollers of our super-active munchkin (who was being watched by our awesome nanny, don’t worry) while finishing up our work.
For some reason–probably because it was my mom and not his–this was an easier transition for me than it was for Ken. I was in my bedroom, meaning I could shut the door and tune everybody else out when I needed to–a luxury that Ken, working in his Man Cave of an office, didn’t have. Plus, I was super-focused on finishing up my book proposal, so it was easier for me to tune out all the extra noise and movement than it would’ve normally been. (And, yes, I finally finished the damn thing, yay!)
And yet, it wasn’t long before both of us started feeling like we didn’t have any space.
Now, this is a common occurrence for us anyway, even with nothing extra going on. With two super-active boys, ages 5 and 3, things are always moving way more quickly than we’d like. Then there’s work to be done and meals to be cooked, laundry to be washed, etc., etc., etc., and before long, one of us starts getting pissy because we’re just so goddamn overwhelmed. Not to mention wanting some free time, down time, time with friends–or hell, maybe even just a little bit of peace and quiet.
Remember that wonderful little thing called quiet? Sigh.
Anyway, it wasn’t long before Ken and I were snipping at each other and starting to feel resentful. Compound this with the fact that I was asking him for extra nights and weekend time so I could finish up my proposal, and you’ll start to understand how we started getting a little, uh, grumpy with each other. Instead of working 15-20 hours a week, I was now working 30-40, and asking him to pick up a lot of the extra slack. All while getting used to having another person in our house.
No wonder Ken started feeling resentful, huh?
And me? Well, this might sound bad, but here you have it: After having spent the last five years with my career on the back-burner, I was finally ready to spread my wings. In fact, I was ready to do more than spread my wings: I was ready to finish this fucking proposal, sell my book and finally get my career up and going again. Got that, pal?
Compound this with the fact that my workaholic tendencies (which I thought I’d long subdued) kicked back in with a vengeance, and it wasn’t long before I was sneaking away from the kids to jot down notes, getting back on my computer after the kids were asleep or asking for a weekend day (if not two) to crank out my project.
Let’s just say I might not have been the easiest person to be around, by any means. The truth is, I was so obsessed with finishing my proposal that it was hard for me to think about much else. Including all the house stuff like cooking, laundry, etc.
Along the way, this whole equation translated into a little resentment of my own. Resentment that even though I was now working full-time, I still had to spend my time and energy thinking about a dirty house and what the hell we were going to eat for dinner.
Now do you see why Ken and I were getting so grumpy with each other? All these tiny little resentments piling up and piling up and neither one of us really doing anything to change it.
Until we got some yucky news about a close friend this week, which finally caused us to take a step back and look at where we were and where we were going.
Nothing like a life crisis to really shake you up and make you think about your priorities.
The whole thing made me question how Ken and I had slipped into such antagonistic roles with each other. Did we really want to spend our time as enemies? Wouldn’t it be better to work as a united front instead, like true partners?
Clearly, some change in perspective was needed. Such as: what happened if we stopped thinking that neither one of us had enough space for ourselves? What if we came at this problem from a perspective of abundance, instead of lack?
I mean, what would happen if I just decided to believe that there was space and time enough for us both? That way, we’d start working together as a team that way, and helping each other get what we needed. Right?
Besides, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how all those overachievers out there think. You know, the ones who work full-time, exercise or do whatever hobby, and still have time to see their friends–on top of spending good, quality time with their children, not to mention their spouse. To do it all–or at least as much as they’re doing–they must come from a place of abundance, right? They must come from a mindset that tells them there’s enough time for them, that there’s enough space for them. Right?? I mean, otherwise, how the hell would they be able to do it?
This whole thing got me thinking of something I read in a Jack Canfield book a while back. He’d profiled some famous person like Deepak Chopra whose name I’ve now forgotten. Anyway, the guy’s schedule was insanely packed from giving talks and teaching and running from one interview to the next. The guy literally didn’t have any downtime, and Canfield couldn’t understand how he was able to maintain his lunatic schedule. Chopra (let’s assume it was him) talked about how it all came down to perspective. When he stayed in the present moment, he said, and used the minute or two between appointments to relax and let go of that project, he was just fine. In fact, he was more than fine–he felt rested and present.
It was when he kept thinking about the talk that had just ended or the flight he needed to catch that he got all worked up and realized his lifestyle wasn’t actually physically possible. But as soon as he let go of all that and just stayed in the present, everything was fine.
Just the reminder I needed after these past few weeks, while I work on re-balancing my life, not to mention my marriage.
Stay in the present and try coming from a place of abundance, rather than one of lack. Stop fighting my husband, and start working with him instead.
Anyone want to join me?