What I’ve been reading: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Overwhelmed_BookCoverI finally finished Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time by Brigid Schulte earlier this week. It had been on my to-read list for over a year, which feels about right given the subject matter.

I continued to align with the subject matter as I read the book. As I was going to bed, I checked my email one last time to discover that the ebook was finally available from the library. I set a reminder on my phone to remember to load the book onto my ereader at 6:15am the next morning so I could have it for my commute. When the library’s website wouldn’t work after multiple attempts, I went to make Flora’s lunch and came back to try to download it one more time. That’s when I missed my train and was late for work.

I spent several train trips home reading this book. I was visibly emotional more than once during the early parts of the book. I related to so much of what Ms Schulte was talking about: the fragmented bits of time (called Time Confetti), the feeling that nothing was truly getting done. The Overwhelm. My sadness turned to anger as I read – and related to – the data, stories and anecdotes spelling out what I’ve believed for a long time: the way we work – and by extension, live and play –Β  is wrong, and we can do better.

I was relieved when the end of the book didn’t end with big promises of a new life, if only you did the following three things. It didn’t read like a self-help book and it didn’t feel overly academic or dry. It was readable and relatable, which explains my occasional crying jag while reading it.

I am so grateful to Ms Schulte to writing such a thoughtful, readable book on something that is so close to my heart at this stage in my life. I am a serious fangirl of her work that I’ve seen and read online. I’m still working on how to apply what I’ve learned but isn’t that always a work in progress for all of us.

Here’s some further reading:

 

Summer’s not over yet

Β < Insert long, drawn-out, trite paragraph about how I haven’t been writing because I’m too busy Enjoying My Summer With My Family here. >

That’s not quite how not writing here for two months happened, but at least that’s out of the way now.

This time of year feels filled with promise but I still end up with a case of the sads. I love summer and the end of Labour Day always feels like such a buzzkill. I’m the one reminding everyone that summer isn’t actually over yet, but everyone else is too excited about their new school supplies and sweaters to really listen.

My end-of-summer melancholy comes with a side of guilt too. My birthday was on SaturdayΒ  and Flora’s is on Wednesday. Hello thirty-five and five. I shouldn’t be sad around my birthday! And I really shouldn’t be sad around Flora’s birthday either. I like birthdays and getting older doesn’t trouble me much (yet – let’s be honest here). Because this year’s birthdays are significant (in that they’re easily divisible by five), I keep looking at the two of us and wondering “When did it all happen? Am I a good enough mum? Do I do enough for my family?” Then I wish for the proverbial Room of My Own so I can just sit down and create something without everyone hanging off of me and listening to the soundtrack of my choosing. I need to toughen up on that stuff. If I wait for the time to be right, I will never make the time to write.

/end tangent here.

It’s been a good summer. My tomato plants grew taller than Flora and are now drooping over their cages. I’ve harvested the yummiest cherry tomatoes ever for a couple of weeks. I will probably have tomatoes of various types well into September if not longer (weather-dependent of course). We spent lots of time outside. We barbecued. We were just another Ontario family enjoying their summer. And I’m not ready for that summer to be over yet.

Bunny

I love this time of year. The weather is finally starting to warm up and there’s been enough rain for the lawn to be lush and green. Flora and I went outside after supper tonight so she could play and I could watch and take pictures and just hang out. The air was warm and it just felt so good to be outside on a sunny evening.

“Mama, I want Bunny to watch me play soccer.”

I had the best seat in the backyard so Bunny sat on my lap. I held Bunny up so she could see Flora’s kicks and runs and shouts of “GOOOAAALLL!”

Flora got Bunny when she was a baby and she is now a cherished member of our family. I check Bunny for loose threads and I pray her head doesn’t come off in the wash. I wash her in a lingerie bag to be safe.

At four-and-a-half (well, really, almost three-quarters but who’s counting), Flora is obviously not a baby. I am astounded at what a big kid she’s become over the last year. But when she’s at home, she likes Bunny to be nearby. Even when she’s doing big kid things.

Flora tells me regularly that she wants to keep Bunny forever. I always tell her “I hope you do”.

Then when she’s out of earshot, I murmur to whoever is with me about my worries that Bunny won’t make it that long. Most childhood toys don’t.

I hope Flora does keep Bunny forever. I love her too.

A cure for the November blahs?

When I picked Flora up from school today, I had to sit in my car for an extra minute or two to pull myself together. I’ve got a serious case of the November blahs. Add an exhausting day at work, a busy commute and I had a small case of the sads by the time I hit the school.

I peeked in the window where the kids were playing. I love watching Flora when she doesn’t know I’m watching her. It gives me insight into how she sees the world.

I waited at the door and she soon came running to give me the biggest hug.

I really needed that.

As she was getting her stuff on, she handed me a piece of paper.

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I made this for you mama.

For those who don’t have kids learning to write and draw right now, it’s a card with lots of hearts. It says “Mom” on the front and the back.

I almost teared up in the hallway of the school.

I thanked Flora for her card. I told her it was just what I needed. And it really was.

I have an awesome kid. I want to be like her when I grow up.

She Wins

I started leaving the house at 6:15am this summer to start my work day a little earlier. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to when I would be both going to and coming home from work in the dark. I just wanted to be done work at 4pm so I was able to pick up my kid and be home before 6:30pm. That part works well, but now that it’s dark in the morning and at night, those early mornings can be a little rough. See this tweet from last week:

Sean and Flora are usually still asleep while I get ready. I usually poke Sean awake enough to tell him I’m leaving, Flora’s lunch is packed, to drive safe and that I love him before I kiss him goodbye. Sometimes I even get a response beyond “mmrphh”. I then go into Flora’s room, kiss her on the cheek, whisper my I love you and leave the room quietly. I go downstairs, grab my bags, turn out the lights I turned on and off I go.

Now that we’re no longer on Daylight Savings Time, we’re all a bit screwed up. Flora is zonked by bedtime and I’ve spent the last couple of days both not wanting to get up, and not wanting to go to bed, so I’m fighting it on both ends. The nights feel so late now that it’s pitch black so much earlier than usual.

Not sure why this extra hour screws us up so much – it’s not like this time change business is a new thing.

This morning I got up and got ready as usual. I was running a little late, but nothing awful. As I was saying goodbye to Sean I heard little feet and told him “we have a friend coming in”. Soon a little girl in a Hello Kitty nightgown came in to use our bathroom. I told Flora I was leaving and that I was late.

She looked at me and asked, “Am *I* late?”

“No baby, you’re fine. Come down with me and you can get a cereal bar and I’ll give you a hug before I go.”

Flora held my hand as we walked down the stairs together. I opened her cereal bar and got my hug. She went back upstairs to talk Sean into some early-morning cartoons. I was doing a couple of last-minute chores before I could finally leave when I heard her yelling something unintelligible at me. On the third time I asked her to repeat myself, she finally said it clearly.

“One more hug mama.”

Like most working parents (edit – like *all* parents), I hold on to oodles of guilt surrounding how I balance my family, my marriage, my work, my life, and myself. We have an okay system, but it doesn’t take much for that system to unravel. I don’t always make the right decision at the right moment. I do what I can to keep as many people at least a little bit happy all of the time. Most of the time, I do okay, but I wish it wasn’t always so hard.

It wasn’t a hard choice to give my daughter one more hug. I need those hugs as much as she does. Those extra moments remind me that Sean and I are Flora’s advocates. No one else will have her back like we do. She will learn – is learning – so much from her teachers and other adults in her life, but she needs to learn how a family treats each other from us. How to form healthy relationships. How to be thoughtful and kind.

And, like it or not, teaching my daughter those things are more important to me than catching the 6:39 train into Union Station.

She wins. She has to.

 

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.