When my brother Jared was a kid he had a stretch Hulk doll. You could pull on any part of his body, head, neck, arms, legs, torso. You could twist him into knots and throw him against the wall and he'd bounce off before thudding to the ground. Jared tested the Hulk's limits on a frequent basis, and abused the doll for his personal amusement. One day the Hulk had been stretched an inch too long and he ripped in half. Even the special elastic action of the incredible Hulk could not withstand the constant stretching and repeated abuse of an active child.
Lately I've been feeling a lot like the little guy. While I don't turn green and grow tremendously large muscles when I'm mad, I do feel like I'm being pulled in just about every direction possible and I'm worried that my fate is going to be similar: ripped in half and left in the trash as nothing more than a fallen hero.
For much of my life I've been able to choose where to focus my energy. Most of the time it has been in school or in doing something fun. I'm a decent multi-tasker so adding work and a serious relationship didn't have a significant impact on my lifestyle and for a time it may have even energized me. Time was on my side in those days. I did what I needed and wanted to do and I did it completely. Why run 2 miles when you can do 10? Why work during the week when you can work on the weekend, too?
Now, I run from one place to another exasperated and frustrated. At work, I pull Caroline's hair ties from my pocket and think about the fact that someone I don't really know spends more time with my baby than I do. At home, I pull out the "work-to-do" folder from my purse but I'm too tired after putting Caroline to bed to think about work. On the post-work drive I think about how nice it will be to catch up on the day with Andy, but by the time we are both home and not occupied with household duties and Caroline care, we are either too exhausted to talk or too worried about work to relax and have fun.
It takes me six months to send a thank you card and my biggest efforts in maintaining friendships are writing one liners on people's facebook walls or sending text messages. That 10 mile run has become 2, so why does it feel like I'm running a marathon each day?
I wish I had more time and more energy to be a better friend, a better mom, a better wife and better employee. But, I don't. I'm not elastic and I don't stretch very well. Yet, I'm just not sure how to do all it. We all have our limits and I'm still testing mine. So, if you see parts of me in the trash can, please don't throw me away. I've bought some super glue and I'd like for you to try to glue me back together. Maybe then I'll finally learn my lesson that it's better not to stretch oneself too thin.