I am hopelessly overscheduled. Ask my people. One of my best friends calls it my “syndrome.” She says that the fact that I am absolutely unable to plan nothing for an entire day means I have a syndrome. It is as yet unnamed, although she has described it in less than flattering terms when she comes to visit and I’ve booked us solid.
My poor mom, God bless her beloved, departed soul, spent the last couple years of her life alternating among horror, disapproval, wonder and fear when she’d see me blow through her apartment on my way both to and from something, small children trotting in my wake. Or hear about my schedule for the day which inevitably started (and still does) at 4:45 a.m. for exercise and generally included some version of work, family, home upkeep, groceries, volunteering, kid activities, meal prep, pet needs, friends and work. Or some bizarre combination thereof.
One birthday, she gave me a self-help book entitled, “How to Relax.” I know it sounds like a cheesy sitcom but I truly said to her, “Thanks so much, Mom, but when would I have time to read this?!”
My husband is extraordinarily tolerant of my syndrome (let’s just call it that). It may be that since he spent seven years with me prior to our marriage and now another 13 on top of that, he’s become accustomed. Plus, I don’t drag him around to anything and everything I am involved in. My children have adapted out of both sheer necessity and genetics. If they depend on me for most of their needs, they better get moving. Will wakes up each day asking what we’re doing that day (especially if it’s a weekend) and if there are only one or two items on the schedule, wonders what we’re doing for the rest of the day. Nick is only marginally better.
The worst are the dogs. We have two Australian Shepherds who are completely my dogs. They pay vague lip service to the rest of the family but we all know I’m it. They are the canine embodiment of my syndrome. They seldom sit still, are always on the go and are relentless in their demand to do something, anything, let’s do it NOW!
After my mom died, I had more free time due to the prior demands of her illness.
My kids are also older now meaning the pace is different than the toddler mania. So I’ve actually had time to reflect on my syndrome and its impact on my life and the lives of those around me. I’ve decided that I thrive on this pace.
I love to have several projects going, many friends with whom to socialize, multiple causes I want to champion, dogs that keep me fit and a family that happily jumps on this speeding train which is me.
Friends, kids, husband and coworkers jump off the train when they want to and wave enthusiastically as I roar off to my next stop. It’s not for everyone but it’s working for me. Until 8:30 p.m. (every minute later is a minute uglier) when I come to a full stop, pull back the covers and fall into bed.
After all, 4:45 a.m. comes fast.
Amy Albrecht is the executive director of the Center for a Vital Community.