Monday, February 22, 2010

Adventures of a Weary Church Mouse

Life is just very busy these days. I now work 30 hours per week at Principal Financial Group, carry out my varied duties of rehearsal and performance at church, care for a husband, a house and two entitled cats. I'm learning many new things, especially as I learn a completely new job role at Principal, and because of our move last summer, new opportunities are opening up. Nothing is dull!

Last weekend Bryant and I celebrated our first anniversary by taking a three-day weekend. Note to self--we really should go out of town next year, because it's too tempting to "work from home" and not make time for each other! It's hard enough to prioritize life's duties on a daily basis. Truth to tell, we're both overcommitted at this point, and something needs to change. I'm praying for wisdom on this one, because it's so hard to give up "opportunities." (Sometimes they're really temptations in disguise!)

For instance, I have wanted to polish my accompanying skills for some time, not having had much opportunity to do so. I was contacted by the Slinger Middle School teacher with a request to help her with students this month, so I was able to accompany a dozen kids in the competition. It was a great experience, and I'm sure I learned more than the kids did!

My good friend Audrey--another church mouse--has helped me out with a couple of vocal performance opportunities, and I'm very grateful. I'm hoping for a few more. But all of these things compete ruthlessly for my time, and I really must learn when to say "no." Up to this point, I've always reminded myself that opportunities come disguised as hard work, but now my priorities have to change somewhat. My marriage has to come before my career in any case!

I'm hoping some of my sage readers have helpful suggestions for me! What are the time challenges you have faced in balancing work and family life?


Jeff said...

I remember getting married and feeling more busy. Like there wasn't enough free time. And then once we had kids, we lost even more time. Little kids, especially, narrow you into a crucible where you have to let all kinds of things go. Really good things. And you end up fighting with everything in you just to keep the bare basics. It strips you down so you're forced to identify and prioritize the non-negotiables. I speak as someone in the thick of this and trying to learn it but still not getting enough sleep because I haven't got it down.

One of the hardest things I'm trying to accept is having a smaller life. Having a life that is just pouring into a family rather than always being off "having adventures" (even if, for me, "adventure" is defined as "reading a book in a quiet room"). It's the difference between wanting to be spread wide and thin versus narrow and deep. If I'm going to show genuine, self-sacrificial love to my spouse and then to our kids, my commitment of time and energy will necessarily grow out of all proportion to the other things in my life. Reading shrinks. Music shrinks. Social time shrinks. Friends shrink.

It may sound defeatist, but it's not. It's trading one good for another. It's trading getting to mess around in all kinds of things for getting to impact a few lives in totally immeasurable ways. As Emily's dad always used to say to her mom, "You wanted to be a missionary; you've got 5 little pagans right here."

Nicole said...

Great quote from Emily's dad!

I see how you could be a great inspiration to Bryant. =)

I'm still waiting for the cats to show some self-sacrificial love.

Thanks for the comments. Good insights.

Emily said...

I would second what Jeff says! Like you said, being married forces you to consider your limits a little more. Having kids narrows you down further. The cool thing is, there really is a lot of honing, seriousness, and focus that comes into play. You learn to be very selective about how you spend your free time, and you become much more focused about it when you have it. I have been surprised to find myself improving a lot in sightreading skills, accompanying skills etc. since having kids, all because I'm being forced to use my practice time to its ultimate potential. There's no time to mess around or mess up!
Relationships are never efficient, unfortunately. They take time to maintain. Planning can help, though. Our week goes a lot better when Jeff & I have Friday night planning after the kids go to sleep.
It is great that have so many opportunities. Just remember that you don't have to do it all this year, or even next. In the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn he reminds us that we have all of eternity to learn and explore. We don't need to try to do everything...
If that makes any sense. :) You and Bryant are such a resourceful couple. You'll figure it out.