Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Cup Runneth Over ... And Then Some

Don't get me wrong, I love having a family.

But between four-year-old twins and an elderly cat who's not feeling too well, I'm feeling a bit overtaxed ... and that's with a spouse who's a fully participating partner who takes on his share and then some.

Sometimes I talk with single or married-but-kidless friends and hear of their trips -- to Italy, to Hong Kong, to other way cool places, and I miss their freedom.

Yet many of them wish they had what I do.

Sometimes I wish we could all trade places for just a weekend or two, once or twice a year. Maybe we'd get a greater appreciation of what we have. Or just get a break from it!

It's not that the grass is greener. I do want what I have.
I just want:
-- My cat to get through the night without waking me or having some kind of digestive system upset;
-- My son to fall asleep before nine-thirty p.m. even when it's light's out by eight-thirty;
--My daughter to get herself dressed without a twenty-minute whining session in the morning;
--My spouse to have less work stress;
--and me to have more vacation, sleep, time to be creative, time to exercise, and more relaxed time with the spouse, kids and kitty.

My guess is, many folks I know have a list kinda like this one.

I wonder sometimes if family life was this chock-full, packed and stressed for my parents. But I don't think it was. My mom didn't work when I was small and didn't have to; when she did go back, it was part-time until I was a teenager or nearly so. Until then, one income was enough for my parents to send two kids to private school in NYC and pay rent on our rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan. Her salary went toward the extras: vacations, summer camp, etc. My dad, though he worked hard and sometimes on the weekends, was home for dinner nearly every night by seven, and took ample vacations with us. We managed to get to a bunch of national parks and even to Europe several times before I graduated from high school. I had music lessons but not many other extracurriculars, and still managed to get into and attend a top college. So did my brother. I don't remember my parents having a single conversation about health insurance premiums.

Now, this quality of life strikes me as wildly fortunate. I never knew it at the time. These days, parents need all of what we make, and then some, and that's without many of the things I took for granted growing up.

We're fortunate anyway, living much better than so much of the world. But sometimes it all seems to hang by the thinnest threads -- I nail-bit my way through a round of corporate lay-offs just a month or two ago.

My life is rich in so many ways... but exhausting and expensive too. So don't get me wrong, I'm grateful my cup runneth over ... but somehow I never quite thought it would feel like it's running over all the time.

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