Friday, July 25, 2008

Not Me First

As much as I waxed poetic about the importance of putting myself first on my to do list, which would include more regular posts on this here blog, I have -- sadly -- not done as well as I would have liked. That's because I have had a number of other personal developments which have taken priority, the most significant of which is my marriage to my Mr. Wonderful and the inevitable peaks and valleys that come with blending a family of five kids, all of which are under the age of nine.

Yes, that's what I said. I am now at the helm of a household containing two working parents and a maternal figure to five little people, four of whom are boys. You could call us the Magnificent Seven (with your tongue planted firmly in your cheek, naturally). You could call us the Brady Bunch minus one (but if you have a spare housekeeper named Alice, send her over, wouldja?) You might think of us as the Muppets (my sweet Baboo does a masterful imitation of Animal, and one of the boys has a Gonzo-like personality ). Mostly, we're just a couple of normal people with a bunch of normal kids who live in a normal state of harmonious chaos. We all love each other (with the rare kid "I hate you!!" thrown in for good measure) and so it works pretty well, usually.

For me, though, adapting to the constant ebb and flow of people and their ever changing needs and desires has proved to be a major adjustment. Someone's always hungry, mad, hungry, tired, sad, hungry, frustrated. We talk about it, someone has a snack or a nap, someone says "sorry," someone says "I forgive you," and it starts anew. And then there's the kids (smirk). It gets overwhelming and exhausting sometimes, the constant feeding, cleaning, comforting, the lost library books, the forgotten homework, the tantrums on the walk to school, peanut butter fingerprints on the hall mirror, stinky boy socks hanging on the towel rack (the towel rack, I say!!!) It's all just too much some days.

But then there are those moments when it all seems to fall in place, like the recent Monday when they all got up, ate breakfast, got dressed, brushed teeth, combed hair, and were ready for school before 7:30 A.M. and without much adult prodding, or the summer day last year when for one blessed and perfect minute I watched them jump up and down in unison in a giant puddle of water, a look of unadulterated joy on their faces. Or the freshly cut tulips next to my freshly brewed coffee when I went into the kitchen this morning, the good-morning kiss from a freshly shaven Baboo. It's all just too much some days.

So, forgive me for not putting myself first lately. I've been putting others first for a while.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Me First

Like every other human who lives in the twenty-first century, I have a constantly growing and never ending list of things to do, people to see, and places to go. Those things, people, and places conspire to take over all my waking time. I have a significant other, children, and extended family members and friends, clients, judges, opposing counsel, retained and appointed experts, all of whom want a piece of me. I have a home, an office, a car, and a small mountain of personal effects to maintain and manage. The grocery store, department store, drug store, dry cleaner, restaurant, bookstore, library, coffee shop, movie theater, and thrift store beckon, some more seductively than others, all with a sense of urgency.

Over the past year or so, I've noticed that there is one person consistently and notably absent from my to-do lists.

Me. Yeah, me.

Generally speaking, in the last year, if some task has made it onto my to-do list, it's on there because of the needs or desires of some other person. My honey wants to go to a movie. My best friend wants to have lunch. My children need new winter boots. My client needs to talk to me about his case. The judge wants my motion on file by a certain date. We're out of milk, copy toner, deodorant, decaf whole bean house blend. Do I benefit? Certainly -- I love snuggling with my sweetie, connecting with my best friend, feeding and clothing my children, being a competent and capable lawyer, mother, friend, human being. I do these things joyously. (Well, mostly).
But I also know from personal experience that if I don't make my needs and desires a priority, they will be subsumed by the needs and desires of others. As a mother of small children, and as a person in a helping profession, I need to take care of myself first, or I won't be any good for anyone else.

So, in the next few months, I intend to find my way back on to my to-do list, to ensure that every day I engage in some self-care above and beyond the mere basics, to renew and energize, physically, mentally, emotionally -- so that I can get the rest of the stuff on that damned to-do list done. I encourage you to do the same.