When I had my boys, life changed. I had two babies under two, both nursing. Plus, I was a working mom with an autoimmune dis-ease, and a marriage that was now two comprised of two sleep-deprived, sex-deprived adults.
Holy guacamole, Batman…
It was a skosh “full” and we were adjusting.
Some of my extended family and friends were dealing with the adjustment, too.
From the “Stacey who was always there for me” to the “Stacey who almost forgot to wear pants to the grocery store.”
My life just wasn’t the same.
But my love hadn’t changed.
One of my family members didn’t believe that. She felt almost forgotten, like my pants — and as a result — less important.
I sat her down and said, “I love you so much. That never changes even though my time does.”
I looked at my hands folded in my lap and thought how to best explain it.
“When I found out I was pregnant with Seth (my second child) I felt worried. I didn’t know how on earth my heart could muster enough love for another child when I had obviously dedicated it all to Caleb. I mean, seriously. My heart was going to burst from all that crazy, juicy, love for him. I had no idea that I had anything left for Thing 2.”
We smiled because Seth is SUCH a Thing 2.
I went on, “I sat with that concern and did my usual — think about it, worry about it, pray about it….let it go.”
She nodded. I think I’m not the only one who does that.
“But the minute Seth was born,” I told her, “I was like ‘Oh. My. GOD!’ It’s all new love for this new little person. It was just waiting there for when he arrived. I could never have imagined that I could love both of them so much and yet, no one’s getting any less love from me. It’s crazy.”
I had tears in my eyes, because honestly, it’s kind of overwhelming.
Then, words came to me that I hadn’t even thought of before, but seemed to arrive at this perfect moment of needing them. “I guess I see my heart as a universe and people as the planets. Every person is his own planet. Rock is his own. Caleb is his own. Seth is his own. You are your own. Same with all of my friends and everyone who I love…
When a new person comes in, it’s not like a new planet grows there — it’s always been there in that mysteriously timeless, all-knowing space — but it’s like a light shines on it and illuminates it for me. There’s enough room for everyone. No one lives on your planet. No one erases you or replaces you. You’re there. Beautifully and uniquely you. Always.”
I looked in her eyes,
“You’re always there in my heart.”
It was comforting and true and yet the reality is this:
Life changes for people and that affects their time.
Watch someone go from single and available, to a wife, to a mom, to a homeschooling mom and you’ll likely watch her disappear for several years.
The same is true when someone is going through a marital crisis, a job loss, a financial hardship, a health challenge, a parenting issue…I’ve been through all of them — sometimes several at once WHILE I was working to provide for my family AND dealing with an autoimmune condition that throws me for a loop at the most stressful times — and holy crap, it’s consuming.
You feel like Alice in Wonderland, falling down dark rabbit holes and trying to figure out which magic potion, key, or door will get you out.
It can require a lot of focused energy while you’re working on a solution.
So, that’s why I tell people this:
My love is unlimited.
My time and energy, however, are not.
It’s not just the reason that I don’t have the same amount of time for certain people I really adore,
It’s also the reason why I don’t waste time in drama-filled relationships
Why I don’t say “Yes” to certain social gatherings
Why I don’t hang out with people or at places that don’t bring me joy.
Because, especially with Hashimoto’s, I have to stay so super focused on where my energy goes. I’ve promised it to my health, my family, and my business first.
And especially because I’m a mom:
I have children to raise. I can’t go around raising adults.
My children couldn’t feed themselves or drive themselves around when they were little and now that they’re teenagers, they need me available for conversations and perspective.
There is a difference between the real needs and the felt needs of others.
My children have real needs.
There are some extended family and friends who have created so much melodrama in their lives that when they end up out of work (again) or with their panties in a bunch (again) they start tugging on my sleeve for attention. They want to drag me in or be mad at me so that they can feel “better.”
Those are felt needs.
It requires wisdom and perspective to know where to spend your time and energy.
I know this because I went through many years without perspective or wisdom.
I went through years following after every drama in the family that said “They needed me”. I spent time at parties with people I didn’t know or enjoy. I spent time saying yes to jobs that didn’t compensate me in a way that met my goals for my family.
How many times did some crazy family member call up and create a firestorm of accusations and weirdness and I’d be on the phone for hours and then, afterward, while I was trying to make dinner, I’d end up snapping at my family because I was in a tornado in my head.
I don’t engage the crazy or pick up the phone when it calls.
The people who I am with either bring me joy or honoring compensation for my business, because both of those are what I desire to bring to my family.
And that’s what I’m committed to.
At the end of the day, we have to account for how we’ve spent our “life dollars” — the economy of our time in exchange for what it brought to us.
Our love is infinite.
Our time and energy are not.
It’s my responsibility as to where to spend all of it.
And when I lay my head on the pillow and close my eyes, I have to remember:
Everyone matters —