I’m so. Freaking. Tired.
It’s the good kind of tired, when I know I’m giving it my all. It’s also the kind that leaves me edgy and irritable, and that’s the part I hate. Or, as my friend Kimberly Jolie might say, “It’s a feeling I do not love.”
Writing for Patch.com has been a stunning surprise, and it’s consumed me from the minute the call came in to do it. I’ve taken it seriously, knowing it’s an opportunity to learn and grow and expand my writing chops.
I’ve been watching my kids watching me, and it’s been pretty interesting. They’re accepting this new demand on my time with as much tolerance as can be expected. They’re happy I’m happy, but vocal about the amount of time I spend on the computer. They ask gentle questions, like, “Are you always going to be this busy, Mom?” or “Do you like staying up so late writing?” or “Do you think it’s always going to be this hard?” I answer their queries with honesty, and I let them know they’re my priority. Still, they see the bags under my eyes lately, and sense my exhaustion. They know there’s been a shift.
I also hear my husband, Mike, cautioning me. “You can’t keep staying up till 3am. You’re going to get sick.” I know he’s right, and I love him for his matter-of-factness. Each night, after the kids are tucked in and I’ve had a chance to finish my other commitments, I settle into bed with my laptop and start the business of reporting for Patch. I review the news of the day, check email, think about the issues flying through Evanston. I open a new Word file and start typing. Emails keep coming in. Mike turns over and puts a pillow over his head. He’s not complaining. He knows his wife’s happy. And finding her way. He knows there’s been a shift.
Change is hard. Change is unnerving. But change stretches us and affords us practice with that delicate skill called adaptability.
I think back to the time when our family went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for spring break. Henry was in 2nd grade and hell-bent on taking a dune-buggy ride. I insisted on going with him — especially since I needed a break from 2-year-old Velcro-Nate. We got to the parking lot in downtown Puerto Vallarta and signed a barely legible legal waiver. The “vehicle” issued to us was essentially a death-cage made of steel bars and barely working electronics. I’d never tried something this adventurous, but was determined to show Henry I could handle it. And, this HAD to be better than holding a writhing, sweaty, sunscreened toddler.
We drove with our “guide” down a crowded Puerto Vallarta highway. I tried not to stare at the asphault below us, but there were no “walls” or “floors” on our vehicle; we were essentially one with the highway. No airbags. NO SEATBELTS. Looking back now, I should have insisted on wearing helmets.
The stick-shift dune buggy had a clutch that my short legs could barely engage, but I gripped the steering wheel and pointed my toes as hard as possible, hoping with every shift that I could keep the vehicle moving. The brakes weren’t what I’d call “functioning”; I’d suck in my breath every time we approached an intersection, hoping we’d make it through alive. Imagine driving down Lake Shore Drive or another major thoroughfare at 40 miles an hour. No windshield. No turn signals. No floor. No horn. No idea if your brake lights were visible to others.
But dammit, I wasn’t going back.
We drove through dusty fields with our group, trying to keep up with the guide. At one point, we drove through a muddy river where locals were washing their clothes.
Henry began to look worried — for the impoverished residents as well as for our safety — and I wondered how good an idea this really was.
The guide led us to a pit-stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We entered the small, church-like structure, only to learn that the proprieters were sampling tequila. When Henry was offered a sip, I knew this might be a bad idea.
We made a quick exit, hoping the other members of our tour group would be ready to head back to town. While waiting near the parking lot, Henry and I sampled some authentic tacos and declared them the best we’d ever tasted. We ignored all the warnings we’d ever been given about “only eating and drinking at reputable locations in Mexico” and high-fived each other for surviving this unbelievable experience.
We got back to the hotel, covered in mud and dust. I was still shaking from gripping the steering wheel in terror for four hours straight. My calves screamed from stretching to reach the clutch, gas and brakes. Yet the experience stretched our outlook and gave us stories we still laugh at and share to this day.
I wondered if my blog was ever read. I’m grateful it was, and even more grateful for the chance to grow.