Busy – Adjective: Actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime; not at leisure; otherwise engaged.
Rarely do we hear Real Women say “I’m busy.” Mostly because the term busy conjures up images of meeting deadlines at work, or running lots of errands, or running around like Professor Hinkle on Frosty the Snowman….and that is all just a usual day for R.W.’s. Saying we are busy is like saying we are breathing oxygen or that we could use more sleep. It’s just how we roll.
However, far too many of us – ok, most of us – occasionally take the “busy” thing too far and move into Overwhelmed and Exhausted mode, as if each day we are going into combat, hoping to come out on the other side still upright, breathing, and able to take nourishment.
Most of my BFF RW’s have been in that O&E mode lately. One in particular has had more than the usual amount of life challenges piled into a few week’s timeframe. She has been balancing a death in the family, the graduation of both children (one high school, one college), a job change, the sale of her parent’s home, and preparing for a bucket-list family trip to Europe. All of this of course is above and beyond the regular home, family, and work responsibilities we carry on our usual “busy” plates. First world problems? Sure, but also pretty crazy. Last night this RW sent out an extensive email to family and loved ones that entailed a list of responsibilities and reference points to ensure the house closing was successful along with emergency contacts and alarm codes for house sitters while they are away. I imagine that it is not unlike a military general’s strategic plan for a troop invasion including coordinates, timing and code words. I have no doubt she has additional lists for herself and her immediate family for wrapping up work and packing for their trip.
She is not alone in her mega-planning-and-coordination skills that must accompany all RW’s in O&E mode. Just the other day I was talking to another RW who was casually telling me about an upcoming weekend. She mentioned that her Friday would start with two separate moving-up-graduation ceremonies for her sons, followed by a full day of work which would end up with a lengthy executive meeting that always goes late, followed by a 5-hour trip to another state for a quick family visit, then the return trip two days later to get back in time to get one of her sons to his first day of summer camp. Again, this says nothing about the behind the scenes coordination I’m sure she is doing to prepare for the work meetings and road trips.
We all have similar stories, and phases where we plug along, finding ways to survive in O&E mode. It’s just what we do. What makes me laugh however, is while we may not say “I’m busy” often, we DO say “If I can just get through this weekend/this week/this month, everything should calm down/get easier/get back to a routine.” Ha, ha, aren’t we funny? As if we can really lull ourselves into a false sense of security that we will suddenly feel relaxed, get more sleep, and find more leisure time simply by getting through this current pile of seemingly herculean tasks? Well, its always good to have a dream. By saying “if I can just get through this part” , we give ourselves the strength and hope that we will at some point be able to pause for a breath and look back and say “wow, that was crazy but totally worth it.”
Luckily we have each other to lean on when necessary, even if it is an on-the-run call to vent while driving to the grocery store because we don’t have time to actually stop and talk in person over a glass of wine. There will be time for that after “we get through this part.”
Some time ago, during one of my major O&E modes, while my stress level was elevated and I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to work my way through it, my husband stopped and said “You know what your problem is?” I looked at him with a snarl, waiting to be infuriated with whatever he was going to point out, and he said with a smirk “You’ve got too much to do.”
Thanks, Captain Obvious. You and Ben Franklin had best just stand back at a safe distance and let us “busy” folks get busy.