Back when my nephew was much younger, my sister and her family were traveling and happened to be at an airport. It was very bright, and chances are they were traveling sometime in the evening when the kids were usually in bed. My nephew seemed irritated by the brightness of the terminal, and was dancing around in the airport saying “Too many lightbulbs! Too many lightbulbs!”
It’s kind of a running joke now in our family; when there’s too much on your plate or the kids are being too loud at one of our family get togethers, the adults will look at each other and say “too many lightbulbs!”
That’s what I feel like sometimes – like there’s too many lightbulbs in my life.
This fall was a landmark fall. All of my kids are now in school. It’s a strange feeling having four kids and having the chaos of the summer and then, suddenly… It’s like a ghost town around the house. Where am I heading with this? Stay with me and I’ll explain.
So, the first day of school was fast approaching, and I was beginning to wonder how I was going to feel about it. It was August, triathlon season was winding down, our big races (for Dan and I) were done for the summer, and we had been on vacation for two weeks. I had also recently dropped my hours at one of my jobs.
I hadn’t been at work for two weeks, so it was kind of bizarre. Our biggest race with the triathlon company I work for was done. Dan finished his first half Ironman. We had our last ultra of the year. Everything had happened so fast, and then poof! Summer was over. Almost.
Before I knew it, it was the first day of school. Three kids got on the bus, and I waved goodbye from the porch. Then, I put my four-year-old into the car to bring her to preschool. It was kind of surreal, knowing that I was going to be alone for the first time in months (well maybe years) for most of the day.
What happened next I did not expect, to be honest. After dropping her off, I sat in the car and cried. I’m not sure how long I was there in the parking lot, and I didn’t really care if anyone saw me. Chances are, many other moms were doing just the same thing.
The tears were for many reasons, most of which I can’t explain. My heart ached. I was sad they were all growing up, especially the baby. For so many years, I had little people orbiting around me all day. I was used to making snacks, picking up toys, changing diapers, putting band aids on owies. It felt like no one needed me anymore.
Some of the tears were relief. I didn’t have to be or do anything. Just the thought of not having to speak for the next 6+ hours was awesome. How crazy is that?
Some of the tears were shed because I felt a little lost. I didn’t have to be with the kids. I didn’t have to be at work. I didn’t have to pick anyone up in a couple of hours, so I didn’t have to rush to get through my errands.
I was suddenly hit with too many options. What was I going to do during my time alone? I had a to-do list a mile long, that was for sure. At the same time, I was completely paralyzed with all of the options before me. In a sense, there were too many lightbulbs.
Do I start with cleaning the house? Do I re-organize the toys because I had some to donate? Should I clean out my car that was completely disgusting from being overused the entire summer? Or did I just escape to the trail and clear my head for a bit. Oh yes, and then there were some other things I had to do for one of my other jobs. Emails to return, checks to put into the register, workouts to write for future practices…but seriously, where do you begin?
Have you ever felt that way? You had too many options and couldn’t decide? And as a result you found yourself just sitting in the parking lot wondering what to do next?
Well I will tell you, it does get a little easier. Everyday is different. It also seems that I’ve gotten busier. What a paradox. I drop my hours at work to get a little more breathing room, and as a result I am more busy. It’s a good busy, however.
Most mornings I think to myself “goodness gracious! I need a vacation (ha ha)!
So are you wondering what I chose to do? You guessed it. I decided to make a to-do list and prioritize by day. What needed to be done first? What had a deadline?
And then I grabbed my two muddy and faithful friends, laced them up, and headed to the trail to clear my head. After that run, which was amazing by the way, I was ready to tackle life.
Run happy. Run long.
Amy is an ultramarathoner and triathlete, a coach, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and a Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also an ultramarathoner and triathlete), and kids in Ohio.