If I’m being honest, I kind of hate when people look at me all giant-eyed, and say, “You are the busiest person on the planet. I don’t know how you get it all done! I am tired just thinking about the things that you do. I could never!” While I appreciate their compliment (?)(Is is a compliment?) I am most certainly not a unique snowflake in the busy department. Yes. I am busy. Yes, I have three kids and a full-time job and a commute and a dog and a husband and a website that I update 6 times a week and a website that I contribute to and edit for. Yes, I go to launches and events. Yes, I read at least a novel a week, sometimes two. But I don’t really feel that it makes me special because I have a lot going on and am able to fit a lot into my life. It’s just what I do. I am the product of two Type-A (likely leaning more towards triple A) personality parents and two Type-A step-parents. It’s what they do; it’s what I do. We take on a lot, we accomplish a lot. It’s not groundbreaking, it just is.
But I have been thinking that while I am running around doing the things that I do, there are things that just don’t get done.
I am always late giving birthday gifts. I’m the parent who sends her child empty-handed to a birthday party. We always give a gift, it’s just rarely on time.
I do not hang up my clothing. Ever.
I haven’t cleaned out the drawer I said I was going to…eight months ago.
I don’t send thank-you notes.
I buy school supplies three days before school starts.
I can’t make it to every class play, every presentation, every ceremony.
I occasionally miss appointments for my hair, my teeth, my eyes. I don’t even get around to making some appointments.
I do not know when my children have outgrown their shoes until I am band-aiding up some blistered feet.
I never eat a proper breakfast.
I let my children brush their own hair.
I pick my battles when it comes to clothing, which is why you will see my child wearing a princess dress more often than not.
I sometimes skip showers to give myself Â some extra time to edit photos or posts.
I do not return phone calls.
I do not answer the phone.
I do not call anyone on the phone.
(Notice a theme here?)
And here’s the one that has really been bothering me for quite some time. I can be a less-than-awesome daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, friend, aunt, cousin. For the past few weeks, I have gotten to spend some concentrated time with some family members. It was like this little tiny gift I was given. Sure, I didn’t see them as much as I’d like, what with my commitments and my job and my family, but those moments I got? Special is a word I am remiss to use, because it was so much more than that.
When you have nieces and nephews who live in other provinces, other states, other countries, time is a luxury you don’t have. Relationships areÂ whittledÂ down to phone conversations and skype calls and occasional visits. And I am less-than-awesome at phone conversations. Admittedly, and this is not a secret, as I confessed these things to you already, I don’t answer the phone or return phone calls or call anyone at any time. But this trip, I don’t what it was about it. I don’t know if because my own kids are older and are less needy of my constant attention, I was able to spend time with these little people and just really know them. Talk to them, play with them, squish the everloving heck out of them. Because they are all these awesome little monkeys, each one of them. Each one had special stories to tell me, and funny jokes, and not-s0-funny jokes. The hugs goodbye were different than the hugs in the past.
Someone once told me that when photographing children, you are best to get down to their level. Lie on the grass; go down to where they are. I suspect that the same goes for getting to know little people. You get down to their level, and a whole new world opens up. You become someone other than this elusive aunt who they see in pictures; you become someone they want to tell their stories to, someone they want to tell their jokes to, someone they want to give their squishes to.
I want to feel like this all the time. I want the people I care about to KNOW that I care about them. I don’t want to be the elusive family member in the picture. I want to stop blaming my non-use of the phone and actually just use it. I want to drop by unannounced to visit family in the city. I want to call my three mothers more often than they’d like. I want to see my friends instead of sending emails and texts and chats.
And really, if it means just having to give another something up, I can stop showering altogether. Showers are overrated, right?