Do you ever get that feeling that you’re the busiest person of everyone you know? Because I do. All the time.
Bumping into a mum friend as I unpack the shopping and attempt to stop my toddler hauling herself into the road: “Hi, yes fine thanks, really busy, you know how it is!” We exchange a couple of pleasantries about the life of a busy mum and nod to each other knowingly. And as she walks away I secretly think, “BUSY?! What does she know about busy?”
Chatting to a blogging friend on Twitter as I try to ignore my mountain of unanswered emails and deadlines coming out of my ears: “Oh I haven’t blogged in ages, can’t seem to find the time, you know how it is!” We exchange a few tweets about blog time management and bemoan our lack of thinking space. And as she tweets off with someone else I secretly think, “BUSY?! What does she know about busy?”
Catching up with my husband over our evening meal: “Yeah, pretty full-on day, did the work stuff in the morning, hate that drive though, only the one tantrum from F in the afternoon, really tired now, you know how it is.” We reassure each other it’s nearly the weekend and this one – unlike the last – will be quiet. And as he wanders off to clear the plates away in the kitchen I secretly think, “BUSY?! What does he know about busy?”
I’m forever comparing and contrasting. Notching up my long old work weeks compared to my friends who stay at home with their children. Notching up my lack of blog time in the evenings, compared to my fellow bloggers who have hours to comment on other blogs and chat on Twitter. Notching up my childcare time and the activities I do with my daughter compared to my husband who is out at work all day.
I always come up short.
In my head, I am the most time poor person in the world. No one else compares. No one. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, I’ve already decided. There is no one who will come near my crown. This is MY busy and no one else is coming close dammit!
And then I breathe.
And I remember.
My own mum didn’t get much more than five hours of sleep a night when I was little either. She also worked full time and then some, cycling across a busy city to drop me at nursery, before cycling back in the opposite direction to take on a full day in an inner city comprehensive school. She was pretty busy.
And I concede, maybe I’m not the only person on the planet to juggle being a mum with working extremely long hours. And, actually, maybe I need to cut everyone else a bit of slack.
That friend who is a stay at home mum? When do I ever see her looking serene? She’s always flustered, with hair sticking up from the top of her head where she’s pulled on a jumper and run out of time to smooth the stray locks away. She’s always running from nursery to school to trumpet lessons to the post office to Sainsburys to nursery to trumpet lessons to the dry cleaners, back to Sainsburys. She’s pretty busy too, I guess.
The fellow blogger who I assume spends the day reading and commenting and mulling over inspiration for another incredible post? Do I actually SEE her anywhere other than in my mind’s eye? I imagine her sitting quietly on a rocking chair, scribbling beautiful words into a notebook in longhand, before taking to her computer to blog at her leisure. But then… she has three children doesn’t she? And doesn’t she work too? And isn’t she doing up a house as well? Oh. Maybe she IS kind of busy then.
This hits me like a train. I’m so caught up in my own busy woes, struggling to keep my To Do list straight in my head, attempting to answer emails while juggling a toddler and come up with creative content for my work while setting my early alarm clock…. I’m consumed. I have pushed out that bit of room that I used to keep free for empathy. I’ve lost it. Instead, I’m filled with a bitter jealousy of anyone who appears to have a shred more time than I. I covet their time like some people covet fancy shoes or jewels.
But they’re probably doing the same. That friend who stays at home with her children probably hasn’t enjoyed a hot cup of tea in five years. That blogger who creates beautiful post after beautiful post probably has to do it once the kids are in bed, when she’d happily sit on the sofa and lose herself in mind numbing TV for a while.
We all have our trials. We are all tested. We are all busy.
I guess maybe I’m ready to share my Busy Crown. Who wants a piece?