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Over Commit &...Under Achieve?

Unfortunately, this seems to very accurately describe where I sit in life right now. I’m going to pass the blame on my mom (because having someone to blame is ALWAYS easier and my mom is such a good sport), who is the queen of over-committing herself. The difference between her and me is that she always manages to over commit and OVER achieve, where I feel lately more like I over commit and under achieve. Everywhere.

I’m not great at saying no when I’m asked to commit to something even when I know I’m too busy, and even when I do I feel incredibly guilty for days after the decline. It’s becomes an even harder situation when Husby and I finally do politely decline from something and receive the short retort “everyone’s busy” in disgust of our apparent excuse.

But that’s just it; it’s not an excuse. And the fact that some people see it that way ends up being just plain hurtful.

I was emailing back and forth with one of my girlfriends this week and one of the things she wrote about her marriage was we’re not like everyone else, I’ve never been like anyone else, why are we trying so hard to be right now? I’m not going to disclose the topic we were on, but that phrase hit home to me in a way she doesn’t know; in a completely separate context than she was writing about.

Husby and I don’t have the luxury of a traditional marriage and family time. We don’t both work office jobs, nor does he work while I stay at home to raise our daughter. We don’t get to sit down promptly at 5:30 p.m. with dinner as a family, and we’re lucky to get a full weekend where he’s not working, much less a full weekend where it’s just the three of us with no commitments to other people.

We’re not busy in the traditional sense. We’re busy in our own unique way. Here is a typical day for us:

5:30 a.m.

{ I } wake up to an alarm, pump & start getting ready for the day

5:45-6 a.m.

[ Husby ] wakes up to Adelyn socializing in her crib

6:30 a.m.

{ I } feed Adelyn (nurse then breakfast), Husby packs lunches for the day

6:55 a.m.

[ Husby ] puts Adelyn in my vehicle while I gather everything needed for her for the day

7:30 a.m.

{ I } start my day in the office, [Husby] starts getting ready for the day, picks up toys from the morning, empties the dishwasher, etc.

9:00 a.m.

[ Husby ] goes to work

4:00 p.m.

{ I } leave the office, pick up Adelyn & get home around 4:30/45

4:45-5 p.m.

{ I } unpack milk pumped, unpack the diaper bag, wash sippy cups/bottles/food containers from the day

5-5:15 p.m.

{ I } make Adelyn’s dinner simultaneously prepping things for Husby & my dinner to be cooked and eaten later

5:15-5:30 p.m.

{ I } feed Adelyn dinner

5:45-6 p.m.

{ I } give Adelyn a bath

6-6:30 p.m.

{ I } play with Adelyn, read her books and get her ready to go to bed

6:30-6:45 p.m.

{ I } nurse Adelyn and put her to bed

6:45-7:30 p.m.

{ I } prep and cook dinner for Husby and me

7:15 p.m.

[ Husby ] gets out of work

7:45 p.m.

[ Husby ] & { I } sit down for dinner and catch up on each other’s work days

8:15 p.m.

[ Husby ] leaves to go to his recording studio to work on his band, work with a band booked that night or mix a band that was just in the studio recording.

{ I } prep Adelyn’s bottles and food for the next day and anything needing advance prep for Husby and my lunches (i.e., egg salad, tuna salad, etc.)

8:45 p.m.

{ I } do a short, intense workout ranging from plyometric activities to abs, etc. depending on the day of the week

9:30 p.m.

{ I } try to go to bed, sometimes with success; sometimes I’m on the couch until 10 or so.

11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m.

[ Husby ] comes home from the studio, the timeframe depends on if a band is in, if he has band practice or if he’s mixing

That’s what I mean by busy. We’re literally busy. We’re not just saying we’re busy. The accusation is just something I’m having a really hard time dealing with right now. And none of this even touches on what my work load is in the office, which is beyond ridiculous at the moment as I prep our for our Executive Board meeting next month.

When the weekend hits, Husby is typically at the studio Friday until 2:30 a.m., works Saturday 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. then sometimes is back at the studio at 5:30 p.m. until sometime into the early hours of Sunday morning. We try to keep Sundays as a day for the three of us to spend together, which only works out about 20 percent of the time either due to studio work or family commitments.

Every Saturday I try to tackle all of our laundry and cleaning, and every Sunday that Husby is home I grocery shop for the week during Adelyn’s afternoon nap (to speed up the process rather than taking her with), and Husby works on something at home. In addition to this regular daily schedule, I’ve recently committed to the following:

  • Monday nights having my niece and/or nephew over (they alternate each week)

  • Creating logos for companies on the side

  • Making a DIY ottoman out of an old coffee table

  • Meeting with a girlfriend once a month (I’m hoping to commit to every other week during the summer months) for a 2-hour wine catch up evening

  • Meeting a different girlfriend for lunch once a month

Now don’t misunderstand, I’ve committed to everything above because they’re all things I WANT to do. I miss my girlfriends terribly and walk away from time with them so rejuvenated. All baby talk aside, girls just need girl talk sometimes, ya know?! And I truly believe I’m a better mom when I come home because I’ve had that little two-hour window where I’m not chasing around a very active, very strong-willed (just like her momma) almost 11-month-old.

But here’s where the frustration sets in. We’re legitimately busy. We don’t give out that reason often, but when we do it’s usually because we’re struggling to find any time to nurture our marriage as it is, so we need to focus on that. Why don’t some people understand and respect that? We refuse to entertain the idea of contributing to the far-too-high percentage of divorces in this country, so we commit to time together at any time that we can to make sure our marriage is getting the attention it both needs and deserves. Why on earth dpes that qualify us to be subject to scrutiny? Why is it ok to come back with the retort “everyone’s busy” when we explain that we need some us time? Family and friends alike, neither of them should come before our marriage.


What’s my point here? Well for starters, I just need to therapeutically get this topic off my mind and on to paper…er…the computer. But it’s also to serve as a reminder to people that the word busy doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing from one person to the next. From one situation to the next. From one family to the next.

Everyone ISN’T busy. And if you’re one of the people using that phrase, then it probably means you aren’t as busy as the person you are condemning.

So to tell someone who’s in a situation similar to ours where the husband isn’t on the same work schedule as the wife, or where the kids are in different athletics with practices, competitions, performances and the like, or whatever another insane schedule includes (and busy schedules are not only for those with kids. I have a friend who works a full time job and two to three freelance side jobs because she enjoys it), all uses of the term busy aren’t equal. Please respect people when they decline on something because they’re busy. Some of us are struggling every day to keep our heads above water, and declining something is hard enough without having the guilt layered on or belittling the busyness of our lives.

We’re busy. But we’re trying. Please, give us some credit. We don’t question anyone else’s definition of busy. Please don’t question ours.

We’re not like everyone else. We’ve never been like other couples. Why are we trying so hard to conform to what their needs for us are right now?

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