Enough?

The mail surprised me a few a days ago. Not because we still have mail service, but because I received a copy of Vanity Fair.  I could have sworn my subscription ran out a few months ago, but there it was, the style issue.  The last couple of days I’ve been trying to remember if I had resubscribed, but no memory came to the surface.  Going through a pile on the kitchen table unlocked some clues: besides unopened credit card offers, there were two unread Atlantic Monthlys and two Vanity Fairs still in their plastic covers.  I glanced wondering back at the pile– could I possibly find me in there, too?

Waves of frustration and fatigue washed over me.  I wanted to cry.  The forgotten and unopened magazines are symptomatic of how I’ve been feeling lately.  It’s the lack of focus and concentration to any one thing.  It’s the feeling of there not being enough hours in one day.  The sense of not establishing priorities.  It’s the fact that I don’t have any goals that I’m working toward.  The center has fallen out of me and this is compounded by the internal instability I’ve felt since summer.  I sit still, but feel as if I’m on a subway.  It’s all just one mad scramble and I wish I could sleep a deep winter sleep for a long, long time.

There’s the feeling of inadequacy– I really should be doing more.  More reading, more writing, more lesson planning, more grading, more cleaning.  Plus, I should be doing something more with my life.  Should I write a book?  Strive for that novel?  Take up a new hobby?  Read my months old magazines? Should I expand my role in the teaching profession?  Or am I content with what I have now?  If I say I’m content, does that mean I’m lazy?  Does it fly in the face of my childhood dreams to be something great?  Does it mean I’m settling?

Then I wonder if I’m good enough.  Am I a good enough friend?  Am I there for them when they need me?  Am I a good enough teacher?  Are my students learning what they’re supposed to?  Am I a good enough wife?  My husband is currently facing one of his greatest challenges as the situation with his mom’s health and care brings a new crisis everyday.  I listen and commiserate, but is it enough?  Am I too wrapped up in my own little world or this how everyone is and worlds just brush past each other?   I wonder often if what I am or what I do is ever enough.

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25 thoughts on “Enough?

  1. Based on all I have read, you are a wonderful teacher, thoughtful person, and a loving human being. Other than maybe being a bit overwhelmed, and facing some tough challenges, I would be confident in saying that your are more than enough, and even more than most 🙂

  2. I identify with this post so, so much. I read it all the way to the bottom, hoping that some great advice would come to me, so I could give it to you, but all I have is this: you’re doing your best, and the fact that you wonder if it’s enough probably means that it is. And you are *definitely* not alone in feeling like this.

    I hope your mother-in-law is doing well.

  3. Oh boy, welcome to my life! I know I don’t know you in “real life”, but I suspect that you are enough. And I mean in every context that you described. I also suspect that you are doing everything you should be doing. The very fact that you’re asking if it’s enough tells me that you’re not lazy.

    I just had a conversation with my husband last night along these same lines. I’ve been feeling like I’m not doing enough around the house. I feel like I should be cooking and keeping the house clean and just generally be “on top of everything” since I’m not working. At least that’s what I thought it would be like before Ruby was born. He had to remind me that having a baby doesn’t free up any time, even when one parent isn’t working. I feel like I’m having to learn that there will NEVER be enough time to do it all.

    There is only time to do enough. Which I’m sure you’re doing. I would even bet you’re doing more than enough. Which means you need to give yourself a break!

    Anyway, I’m rambling on so I’ll end this. But not before saying I have a sort of similar post queued up for tomorrow.

    1. Thank you. I think it boils down to expectations– what do I expect from myself and what is feasible? It’s like your expectations of housework meeting the Ruby feasibility. I just need to think about what I really value and want to put my time into, and let any future goals come about organically rather than trying to mandate goals. I will be reading your post tomorrow!

  4. That way madness lies. Pour yourself a soda/cup of tea/glass of wine/shot of tequila, and tell your monkey mind to shut up. It helps if you listen to music until you’ve drowned it out. Then get back to your regularly scheduled life.

    1. “Monkey mind” is the perfect term for it. It’s like the guard monkey in Toy Story 3 that crashes the cymbals together when there is a disturbance. I’ve got tequila! I must try your advice— thanks for the humor.

  5. Since I started blogging, your blog is the one I have regularly followed. In all this time I have liked you as a person, teacher, writer and a friend. Although there are moments when I have wondered the same things about my life but life does come to a standstill sometimes AND it soon kicks off again. It’ll kick off anew soon, Ammy. 🙂 And knowing you as much as I do, you’ll do something brilliant with it.

    1. Thank you, Habiba! I appreciate your kind words and optimism. You, too, are one of the first blogs I followed, and I feel like we’ve been friends forever even though we’re thousands of miles apart.

  6. Here i can resonate your thoughts…coz i have been feeling restless for the past two weeks….with the same thoughts in my mind- am i doing enough with my life? there’s so much more to do….and there’s never enough time…or i feel i have been procrastinating a lot. Souldn’t i be doing something more?
    I can understand these feelings. I think you are doing a wonderful job as a teacher and a very blessed one too. I believe knowledge is sacred and the one who imparts knowledge is the most giving and selfless person in the world. You are empowering generations. Your students will go out in the world confident and wise because of you…… becoming lawyers, doctors, teachers, professors, scientists, actors, writers etc. You should be proud of yourself.
    I always feel indebted to my teachers for everything i am today for they taught me all that i know. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Suraiya. Your words help put into perspective what I do and the impact I can have as a teacher. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that. You’re in the same boat. You help others and make them strong again. Now you are studying for a higher degree. As long as we move forward and improve, I don’t think there’s much more we can do.

  7. I think it’s called the new normal, except that it’s not really new. Practically everyone, and especially women, have struggled with this dilemma for generations. We all wonder from time to time if we’re thinking enough, saying enough, doing enough, even being enough.

    Enough is what you make it and everyone’s enough is different. That’s a good thing.

    This little twist on the Serenity Prayer has gotten me through a lot over the years:

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot do;
    courage to do the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Sharon

    Serenity Prayer: http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/special/serenity.html

    1. That is a great twist on the prayer– a reminder that we can act, but some actions take more courage than others. It also allows us to accept what we cannot do, and my definition of “enough” may fall into that category. I might strive for “just enough” instead. Thank you for sharing that with me.

  8. I agree with all the comments above, and have this to add: you’re one of the best friends I have, and you’ve always done more than I think is humanly possible for any individual in terms of attentiveness to our friendship. You’re a much better friend than I! As purplemary says above, listen to some music and shut out your monkey mind. I just had a bout of depression and nothing would fix it but some good old Ray Charles. That man has the loveliest voice on the face of the planet. Sigh . . .

    1. Jess, this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

      Crazy enough– Ray Charles has been in my car’s cd player for the last two weeks. I can listen to “I Got A Woman” over and over again.

  9. There must be something in the water! I know of several people (myself among them) who are feeling very much the same as you as of late.

    I’m sure that doesn’t help you, but it might at least comfort you to know you’re not alone.

    And oh, you ARE good enough.

    1. Thank you, T! Maybe it’s the alignment of the planets or something– or maybe the Mars Rover is disturbing the force. I don’t know, but you’re right, a lot of people have been feeling out of sorts lately. It seems like we all need something to happen.

  10. Wow! U have got so many positive comments tat I really don’t think I have anything to add except that ur being there, has been a positive influence in my life at this precise moment…and all that matters in life is this ability to continually n considerately influence others 🙂

    1. Thank you, Asifa. I’m glad that I can be “here” for you on your new journey. I agree that our purpose is to positively influence others or at least be there for support.

  11. In one of the two day-intervals between our last two trips, my husband stepped into my office (in our home) and wondered why some people have the time to hand make clothes for their children, can tomatoes, and grow their own herbs. And then he asked me if I ever planned to use the sewing machine (that he and our son gave me for Christmas two years ago) again. I feel your pain. I constantly feel like I can never be enough for myself or others–and school is scheduled to start again with the associated ramp up in school activities, both volunteer and athletics oriented. When I tried to make a short story contest deadline before we left at the end of June, I failed to turn the story in on time because of family trip prep gone awry. Not that I’m bitter. But I feel your pain.

    You know I think you’re a fabulous person and exemplary teacher. But it doesn’t hurt to hear it again and again and again. It’s the only way to push down the negative thoughts. Perhaps we are twin daughters of different mothers. Now go have a glass of wine and listen to the kitty purr. Scratch her behind the ears and smile.

    1. I think women, instead of being freed by feminism, got stuck being both a working woman and earth mother who can do it all. We’re now expected to be successful in both realms, and for the majority of us it’s sustainable. Thank you for your kind and positive words. My cats love your suggestion. So I raise my glass to you, my wonderful twin, for all of the stuff we do accomplish.

    1. I think many people have been feeling this way lately. I’ve been working toward establishing routines that give me a better sense of normalcy– working out a little everyday, going to bed on time, giving myself time to read. It’s been helping.

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