I am drowning.
Not in a pool or in the bathtub. Not in a lake or in a river. I am drowning in my life.
I have too many responsibilities. Too many things to do. I have too many students. I have too many children. Too many tiny, innocent lives competing for my attention and my love.
I have too much work. Too much paperwork, too much planning, too much grading, too much cleaning. I have too much stuff littering the literal and figurative corners of my home, filling up my checklists and suffocating me with demands.
I have too much stress. Too many deadlines looming. Too many bills to pay. Too many people to whom I owe my time and my resources.
I am drowning.
Drowning in obligation. Drowning in pressure. Drowning in discord. Drowning in tears.
The weight of life is too much to bear at times. I find myself snapping at my students and my colleagues, at my husband and my babies. My sweet, only-young-once babies, the needs of whom overwhelm me.
I only get one chance with my children. Only one. And I find myself filling that chance with shouting, with disapproval, with anger, with fret. I find myself filling that chance with work. Always work. Always.
I am ruining my chance with my babies. I am ruining them with my short temper and harsh words and due dates and undertakings. I am ruining us.
I AM RUINING US.
It breaks my heart to write those words. It crushes my soul to read them. But it is true. I am ruining us.
Instead of enjoying lazy days with my kids — instead of taking walks and playing games and making up stories and watching the clouds float by — I am rushing them through life, ushering them from one essential activity to another, never taking the time to slow down and savor our moments together because there is no time. The time I am afforded is just barely enough to get by without toppling the entire structure under which we are subsisting.
I am putting my children on the back burner so I can attend to the commitments at the front — the ones that are boiling over no matter how many times I stir the pot. I am watching my life fly by at lightning speed. I am watching my children’s lives fly by at lightning speed. But I am not participating. I am not enjoying. I am merely surviving. Existing. I am overwhelmed. Exhausted. Numb.
I cannot live like this. We cannot live like this. This is not living. This is not life.
I am drowning. But I have to tread water. I have to swim to the shore. I have to shed the weight so I can reach and pull and kick my way to safety. I have to, no matter how hot my lungs burn or how strained my muscles feel. I have to get to that shore so I can make it. So they can make it. So we can make it. So we can live.
I am drowning. But in the distance, I see a sanctuary. And I will do whatever it takes to get there. Because in the distance, I see life. And my family — my children — deserve to live it well.