Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Elusive Search

I have a friend, she's a sorority sister, and she is the mother of a son who is about a year older then my daughter. He was recently diagnosed with a slight form of autism. His mom and I have been friends since college and while we don't talk often, we keep up with each other and pick up wherever we left off last. To say my friend is organized is an understatement. Do I have drive, stamina, determination, organization skills? She's on a whole other level with it all. She spent a few years as a teacher, then became a principal before becoming an entrepreneur and running her own store - successfully. We had lots in common over the years and it seems even more as time went on, which is why she and I managed to stay in touch. Those skills of hers are what guided her as a parent and got her son to a level of behavior that overcame the symptoms of that autism they never even knew he had back when. When he was diagnosed he was already more advanced than others in his situation would have been. She is worthy of being admired, but don't try to be like her. You growing sense of inadequacy will just send you to therapy.

Then there is the brother of a friend of mine, a co-worker. He came by the office recently with his mom because they were bringing my friend's baby in for a visit. I hadn't seen him in a while. He's a musician, but that's not his day job. He's got a pretty busy day job in the telesales industry, I do believe it is. Works many hours and then still has gigs to play, traveling to do. I mean the music is no hobby. He really does his thing. But it's a business too. He was telling me about the struggles of doing both and asked how my business is. We commiserated over our love for the business, but the difficulty of giving them our time and he seemed so happy to talk to someone who understood. He plays with his musical father but he's basically the one doing the business end of the music. "People tell me to find a partner. That's not so easy!"

I guess you've guessed what they have in common. My girlfriend has gone back to doing a little teaching with her store in tow and she wondered, how the heck does anyone do this superwoman thing? My friend's brother is nothing like us in terms of responsibilities of family but he too wondered how the heck do you balance it all?

Ah the eternal question. And it was good to see such different people asking the same one. I always knew I was not alone, but right now it was really good to hear. Right now I am probably getting back a little of my long-gone drive - well, it wasn't gone. It just took one of those really long breaks it takes. But I felt a little, just a tad, kicking in last night after I got back from my son's boy scout parent meeting, which took 2 hours, after which I had to go pick up a prescription that costs me double what it did last month because my husband's state-provided insurance skyrocketed. I came home needing to email a few scout people a few questions since we are still new to this group. I came home to notes from my kids' school about upcoming field trips, book clubs that will help the teacher get books for her class, fundraisers and hey! We have 6th graders now! Let's all join the 6th Grade Committee! Well I had already just told the scout people that maybe, if they tell me where to go and what to do, I can do a monthly meeting that no one else was able to easily do and represent the group. Asking a lot, even once a month, but the group is just so darn active and doing so much for the boys I do feel the need to help however I can. After all, I want Son to stay in there through high school and get this on his future college and job applications. It can only help him.

After emailing my willingness to do those monthly meetings, I then seriously considered that 6th Grade Committee. I mean I haven't joined anything like that in all the years he's been at that school. Sure I go to PTA meetings but I know very well that everyone pitching in makes it easier on everyone too. I also know, after years of volunteering at my church before I had kids, that once you open that door, it will not be flooded with others looking to helping and you will join that sad 20% of people who do 80% of the work and that will never change no matter how optimistic you are. So I pondered it last night and filled in the slip and went to sleep on the idea of making any sort of additional commitments to something. I mean my job is getting more time from me than ever right now because there is just so much to do and the same number of people to do it all. My business hasn't had me doing any marketing for months because the Groupons kept up really, really, SUPER busy. For the first time we felt what our ideal business situation would feel like and it was draining, but good.

And my kids' schedules? A monthly calendar on the fridge just isn't enough anymore. Thank God a free yearly calendar book came in the mail for the rest of this year and all of next year because we have to write this stuff down! Girl Scouts and soccer for her. Boy Scouts and basketball for him. Swimming for both of them. It blew my no-more-than-two-activities-at-a-time out the water for the meanwhile because they were all things they wanted to do and could only do at certain times, a few for only 6 or 8 weeks. But they happened to all get going about the same time. So the weekends are a little nuts and my business? It's going to stay in the game but here I am back to wondering how to balance it all and deciding that maybe the trick is to be a little more transparent so our customers understand who we are. So far sharing we are moms with full-time jobs has HELPED us! But now I feel led to take on a scout committee role and maybe a 6th grade committee role, which means I have to at least be open to something a little more involved in my daughter's activities should that arise, and I still need to get the marketing of my business back to normal?

Am I crazy? Sigh. No. I am a working parent.