Every quarter I have the same nagging question: how do I stay sane, succeed in school and be a present, caring, patient mother? Oh and a devoted wife and maybe even have time for myself… Inevitably I find I am failing in one or more of these roles and try to somehow squeeze more productivity from my increasingly bony frame. I grow a few more grey (or is it gray?) hairs and the dark circles under my eyes deepen in hue. What is the point in all of this? And what do I think I need to prove?

Looking across the room at the mountain of dirty dishes towering on top of the kitchen counter, knowing there is a pile of laundry waiting to be folded in the other room, the bathtub needs to be scrubbed, the table cleared and made ready for lunch… I find it impossible to actually concentrate on the entire book I need to read before Monday, and I still have those articles on theory to finish, and I need to start my research for my language acquisition project -How do people do all of this? Why?!

When I told a classmate (I guess in graduate school they are called colleagues) that I was taking three classes, she told me: “You are going to make yourself crazy.” She has two kids and said: “They tried to tell me I needed to take 3 classes and I said No. My reality is I have two kids. I am not doing that.”

I worry that not only will I make myself crazy but also my family. If I succeed at school but fail at mothering, it will have all been a waste. If I can do okay in three classes and drive my family only slightly mad, is that acceptable? Probably not.

If I take only two classes that are both taught in English in my first term in my graduate degree in Spanish literature will it increase my anxieties around feeling like an impostor? Probably but there is a strong possibility that I might still feel like one anyway.

The point -I am realizing- is not to see how much you can take on and complete but how well you can do the things you’ve asked of yourself. If asking less of your self means that the tasks and roles you do give your energy to are attended to thoroughly and with greater creativity and joy than they would be otherwise, then I think that counts as success.


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