I’ve yet to convince the universal-powers-that-be to grant the 30-hour day. So what’s up with that? Couldn’t you do with a few more hours than 24 – with everything you’re trying to accomplish or find yourself responsible for?
But no! Not so!
For those of us who are “self-employed” or possibly engaged in more than one full-time occupation, working Saturdays and Sundays (as well as evenings) is de rigueur; we don’t think twice about it. You know – the more you do, the more you can do – and so we do!
So where does a relationship come in if you’re single and slammed? If your tendency is to bite off more than you can chew, and challenge yourself to chew it all the same?
Oh, right. Trade-offs.
Work or Shirk
I confess, I must be dragged kicking and screaming away from my laptop, and even when I am, I’m writing in my head. For that matter, I’m often writing in my dreams and typically writing in the shower – um, in my head.
When I take a walk, ditto. (Yes, bits of paper and pens in my pockets.)
When I shop for groceries, likewise. (Yup. Scribbles on my lists.)
When I watch a favorite movie?
Ah… then it’s a slightly different scenario. Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, or possibly a classic Garbo – Hell, I’m even content in front of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. I begin to unwind and lose myself, just enough so the words loosen their grip. And I relax, deliciously.
But otherwise? Work vs. shirk?
It’s a no-brainer. I work – researching, writing, scoping out possible projects, pitching, twitching, and fuming over computer glitching!
But here’s the dilemma. The fact of my dating life. And it’s a lovely dilemma – truly! But adding a relationship to my madcap mix challenges my priorities and schedule, and my capacity to manage both.
Planning and Priorities
His weekends? They’re weekends! Yes, he tends to planning and preparation for the week ahead, but he isn’t glued to it, he doesn’t dream it, and he certainly doesn’t walk around muttering to himself.
I’ll even go so far as to say that he’s extraordinarily understanding of the fact that I do (all of the above), but still – I feel guilty and conflicted, wanting to be more available and not just in body but in spirit. Who wouldn’t prefer a mind not wandering to the writing list, the editing list, the email list, the organization list?
I recognize that years of being a single / solo parent and managing kid schedules as well as my professional commitments left little room for anything else, except the occasional (long distance) relationship. I also realize that even the most compulsive “doer” takes time off. And I do believe in the beauty of therapeutic boredom as necessary rest for the noodling neurons (thus, my penchant for classic films and yes, chick flicks). Still, I find it excruciating to execute on actual non-productive time.
During the solo parenting years I certainly dated (at least periodically), and I thought I was “open,” but looking back – perhaps not.
Like I said – absent that 30-hour day, I couldn’t seem to make it happen. Especially not without the predictability of regular employment and a regular schedule, even if an intensive one.
But I understand that relationships require time and care and feeding – not only during courtship but beyond the first stages of infatuation. Romance is something more than surprise flowers or a candlelight dinner. It’s as simple as laughter for an afternoon, making memories with the one we love, cooking together and walking together – without grabbing for a pen and paper!
I am aware that trade-offs are required and necessitate more than time, but quality of attention, and a conscious choice to make the person you are with – and the unit you are forming as a couple – a priority.
It’s not the only priority of course, but important enough to shuffle around some items on the list, to give up a little of this for oneself in order to share a little of that with the other – knowing that he or she is doing exactly the same.
But when your situations are different? His profession predictable, and yours – not?
Time Alone? Time as a Couple?
So where’s the “self” time?
What’s the right mix?
What if you work 12 hours/day – and that’s the way you pay your bills?
Help! I’m pondering the compromises and trade-offs, and struggling with them – the practicalities of limited hours, money, and energy. The stress of it – and there is stress, though I’m immeasurably grateful to find myself in this position – aging relatively gracefully (I hope), with the surprise of a wonderful man I’m getting to know. But how do I reconfigure this juggle? How do I manage to not drop the ball?
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