I had a day off today, but not really according to my wishes. I was just settling into my morning when the power went out. Where I live, in the country, when the power goes out, it goes out all day (at least). So I packed up and went into town to work in a coffee shop. But I forgot my Macbook charger, and I was already at zero percent, so that was that. I decided to drive home and spend time with my family. Not without considering my options first, I'll admit.
It takes me a lot of time to adjust, mentally, when I had my mind set on one thing but then I have to do something else. It was really hard to leave the relative simplicity of my work life (sit down, do tasks) and enter back into the battle zone that is my family life (a two year old and a three year old are no small army when patience is involved). I love my family, but it is much easier to feel satisfied with a day in the studio, gettin' things done, than to try to distract my daughters from their extreme and unbridled emotions.
Do I sound like a deadbeat dad? I don't know. I think if you ask most parents, kids are exhausting, and sometimes, you don't want to be around them. Adult world makes a lot more sense, is much more accommodating, far less stressful. But what I really don't enjoy is realizing how utterly weak I am as a human. I tend to avoid anything that makes me feel like a failure. Perhaps that is why I work so much. Maybe I work a lot to avoid home life, because it challenges me in ways that I'm just not that confident in. Or maybe I work a lot to feed my family. I know there's a bit of both in there.
Kids need tons of love, tons of compassion, tons of patience. And if time with the kids is scheduled (as it is in the evenings and during weekends), it's a lot easier to muster these and give them freely. I can mentally shut down the business side of my brain and become more present. But when it feels like it's in conflict with my other plans, my big, huge, important, adult, breadwinning plans, then I resent the struggle, and I lose sight of what's important. Being verbally abused by my three year old because I cut her bread in the wrong direction can be comedic, but when I'm anxiously losing time on a short deadline, it feels like a punishment. Days like these, I take a lot of walks.
So I had a day off, by accident. I didn't work, but it wasn't a holiday either. But I think at the end of it all, I'm glad to have something bigger than me (in this case, the barrage of gale force winds that knocked out the power grid) step in and bump me out of my illusion of self importance. When things like this happen, I am confronted with a more real part of myself. Because a life focused on pleasing clients, peers, and heroes is only the shell of who I am. The truest meaning in my life comes not from those things I want to do, but those things others need me to do for them. And although I am not great at it, at least I I have the opportunity. I am so thankful for my family, and I am thankful for days like these, which, although not planned, are good opportunities to reflect on what’s important.