Last week I received an email from my daughter’s dance teacher informing me there was a change in the location of the next dance competition. We already had a packed weekend, and this location change may have required us to stay in a hotel and be in two places at the same time. It nearly wrapped me around the axle!!
As I’m sure you have experienced, when you have a family schedule like ours, that already has to be carefully planned with military-like accuracy, a small change can really “upset the apple cart.” It didn’t help that I was already feeling the pressure of the week – which was quickly turning out to be a crazy one.
It truly was an epic week, and not in a good way. I nearly left my daughter at the dance studio and had to make a last minute phone call to have our nanny pick her up. Then, I almost shipped her off to the wrong car pool since I was also confusing my days. Needless to say, I was driving my household crazy. By the end of the week, I had Post-It notes and schedules hanging from everywhere!! It just happened to be that kind of week.
My life, like most families, can get nutty. My daughter, Emily, is on a competitive dance team. She dances 5-6 days per week and has multiple holiday shows, competitions and recitals throughout the year. Some of her dance competitions require us to travel. If you have ever seen the show ‘Dance Moms’, its kind of like that… without as much drama.;)
My son, Alexander, is on a competitive soccer team that practices 2-3 days per week, with weekend games that also require us to travel. He has dyslexia and is in an intense therapy program. He used to go to therapy five hours a week but recently we were able to decrease it to three hours a week. This is in addition to the extra work that is required outside of therapy – and of course – his regular schoolwork.
My husband is a very busy orthopedic surgeon whose schedule is packed and often unpredictable. Not only does he normally have long days in surgery and seeing patients in the office, but he can take call for an entire weekend and be stuck at the hospital for the majority of it.
And then there is my schedule. Besides being the “house manager” and a full time athlete in training, I’m chasing down some pretty lofty goals. In addition to my 6-day training schedule, I see a physical therapist and a massage therapist weekly. I also have Pilates twice a week. So trying to balance dance, soccer, schoolwork, training, races, and call schedules, can be very tricky. I have to do a lot of planning ahead.
So perhaps you can see how an email with a location change could be a potential problem. Oh – and I forgot to mention that I was supposed to race that weekend and my son had soccer games both Saturday and Sunday.
Welcome to my life!!
I was so stressed out, not just because our life felt like it had been turned upside down in a matter of seconds – with a simple email – but because I knew I was going to have to make the difficult choice between racing or going to my daughter’s dance competition.
I felt so torn! If I’m going to be totally honest, I was aching inside. She was going to perform a new dance solo for the first time on stage at that competition and I knew she wanted my support. I cried with guilt about possibly missing her dance.
Of course, that lead me into a deep dark hole where I questioned my goals: “Why am I doing all this running and putting myself through the stress of making it all work? Because it’s just running, right?” But my husband and closest friend reminded me that I’m a talented runner and it’s not “just running” for me. I’ve got lofty goals and in order to accomplish them, there will be times I have to make sacrifices. THIS is my job now!
In the end, everything worked out. I got lucky, in a way. I ended up registering too late for the race – I didn’t realize how popular it was – and it was sold out. So, that weekend, we “divided and conquered”, as we often do. I was able to watch her perform and my husband went to my son’s soccer game. Don’t worry, I did get in a nice training run that morning before the dance competition.:)
For me, this was a friendly reminder of how women can have it all, but not at the same time. Something always has to give and you never feel like you are doing one thing well. You have to sacrifice one thing for the other. However, I also think in order to be a good mom, wife, friend, and sister, sometimes I have to be selfish and make sacrifices in order to pursue my dreams and goals. I think it’s important to realize when to be selfish and when to be selfless.
It’s a delicate balance I think most of us struggle with. The hardest part is getting past the guilt that we put on ourselves and our kids put on us because of their lack of understanding. This is when a supportive spouse is very important. Someone to help out when needed and to back you up with your decisions. To make you feel that it’s okay to pursue the goals that are important to you.
One thing I have learned on this running journey is you need to have faith, because it gives you patience. I believe G-d has a plan and I need to trust in that.
In retrospect, if I had raced that 5k, I don’t think my head would have been in it. I know this will not be the last conflict. In fact many of my races this season conflict with my kids’ schedules. But I need to find it within myself, to come to terms with chasing down my lofty goals and being there for my family when they need me. The struggle is real and continues!
How do you balance your family life and running? I’d love to hear from you, please share with me in the comments below.