My son finished primary school a couple of weeks ago. He was sad. I was bereft.
I have chosen to work part time but still I felt such sadness for the mornings I couldn't walk him to school or the nights I couldn't collect him, for the harvest festivals I didn't make and the 'drop in' afternoons I was absent for. That time has gone. It will never return.
I love my work, really love it. I love coaching, I love teaching, I love the people, the teams, the sense of making a difference. I'm lucky enough to be doing work which feels like is in line with my purpose, which allows me to use my skills to help other people.
I love my kids, really love them. I am so proud of how they are growing up, the people they are emerging to be.
I love time alone to write and read and do yoga, and swim and walk and just gaze. Time alone helps me center, stops me getting out of kilter with myself, helps me unwind and turn inward after days of looking after everyone else.
I love time with family, my partner, with friends, just being with them makes me feel connected, grounded and gives me a sense of belonging.
I love travel.
I love to stay at home.
I like earning my own money.
I wish I didn't have to work.
So many conflicting desire. So many different parts of me battling for space.
We working parents I think become experts in juggling. We pride ourselves in multi-tasking. We try to do it all.
But we can't. We can only do bits of each. Which means nothing gets our 100% attention, not even 50%.
When I wonder what percentage of my time and life I have given my kids it is far less than 50% of my time and attention. Yet my eldest is on the edge of adulthood and my youngest is off to senior school and they no longer want to hold my hand as we walk. That time has passed. They will soon be gone.
Trying to give time attention to so many demands, all of them lovely, makes me feel tense, my solar plexus pulls in and makes it hard to breathe fully. I want to give 100% to everything I do, but I can only give 100% or a partial percentage. I can't give work my all because I have kids, I can't give my kids my all because I work. We are torn and for me, the tearing causes tension inside my body.
So I've been asking myself 'What would I regret not giving more attention to, if I was on my death bed?'. It''s an interesting question to ask. Try it.
Because the top answer for me is spending more time with my kids. Then more time with my family and friends. Then more time writing. Then more time alone. So even narrowing it down still is a split; 100% of my time divided by 4 things...what would the balance be? What would your balance be? What would be your death bed regrets?
And then there is the thorny question of making a living. Spending time with the kids doesn't pay the bills, nor time with friends, not doing yoga by the river or writing this blog. If I'm going to spend more time doing these things, then it means less time working, so I either need to charge more or I need to spend less and live differently.
I don't have the answer yet, but I'm glad to be getting clearer that I want to focus. I want to focus on what really matters, what is most precious to me. I don't want to be torn any more. I love all of my life, but the combination of so much is too much. Like a tempting buffet, I'm trying to eat it all and in the end I'm just making myself sick. I need to go back to bread and butter and really appreciate the taste and texture of it all.
I want to be on my death bed knowing I focused on what mattered most to me, not regretting time spent juggling or multi-tasking and too tired to appreciate any of it fully.