The Struggle to Prioritize Social Time

It poured and poured and poured yesterday after some nighttime snow and sleet. It was a disgusting day outside. The roads and sidewalks were flooded in places due to the melting slush and the relentless deluge on top of it. I was far from jealous of the runners in the Boston Marathon, in awe of their courageous runs in sub-optimal conditions, and impressed by the droves of volunteers and spectators still sticking out their posts in the dreadful weather. Gutsy day for everyone who participated in one way or another.

I had a regular work day except for the afternoon treat of a visit from my mom and oldest sister. It was so sweet of them to make the drive down to see me on their day off, though it was probably a good day for it since, like me, they are outdoor people and yesterday was just too uncomfortable to spend much more time than was absolutely necessary out there.

Mom gave me a haircut, while my sister and I caught up. She’s really busy with her job and social life, so it’s not often that we have in-depth conversations. Because I don’t love talking on the phone, our chats are relatively infrequent and brief, and we rely on texting in between to stay connected. My mom, on the other hand, is one of the two people I actually love talking to on the phone (the other is Ben), so we talk every day. It’s a rare and sad exception when we aren’t able to catch one another for a phone call. Because of our consistent and deep conversations, I feel so close to her even though I still don’t actually see her in person nearly as much as I’d like or as our limited distance apart would suggest. It’s so often that I’m just not feeling physically well so the idea of “entertaining” is overwhelming. It’s not until another lovely visit comes and goes that I realize there’s literally no effort required on my part to have her over. If anything, she ends up taking care of me or helping me with something around the house, effectively increasing my energy and lightening my load. If only I could better remember how helpful, wonderful, and emotionally restorative it is to have her come for little visits then I might rally more enthusiastically for her to come. Unfortunately, even though she’s working far less than she once did, she’s still quite busy during the work week because she takes care of my little nephew two full days that she’s off and sometimes part of her half-days. Essentially, except for rare days like yesterday, which was a school holiday so my nephew’s parents were off work and could relieve my mom from her post as the child care provider, mom is only available for a visit on the weekends.

I do a terrible job at partitioning enough weekend hours for recreation and social time since I work both weekend days for several hours to spread out my daily workload and open up ample time for breaks and unwinding rest on the weekday afternoons. The bulk of my job involves editing or researching complicated concepts and then writing informatively about them. Both of these tasks require intense focus and meticulous attention to detail. Therefore, I have to limit the duration of each bout of work so that I stay sharp instead of glazing over and becoming complacent or careless. I can’t often work an eight-hour day and maintain the level of focus I need, so I spread the work over the full seven day week and put in several hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Moreover, since I really only see Ben on the weekends, it’s hard for me to part with that time. I just feel like our relationship is so much better now that we make a concerted effort to spend quality time together on the weekends instead of doing a lot of our own separate thing those days. I’m clearly still learning that I need to prioritize social time and relationship building activities.

Mom also brought over my other sister’s dog crate, which she’s no longer using, because Comet will need to be confined to the crate for a full week following the surgery. We got rid of the crate we trained her with when she was a puppy several years ago during one of our many moves. The surgery is scheduled for next week! It’s really exciting to think that in six weeks or so, she might be starting to take short walks with me again. She will love the warmer May temperatures and getting back out to sniff things and interact with the world. I’ll love looking down and seeing her at my side again.

Today is a regular day with no planned visits from family members or friends. I’m really tired because Ben has a bad cold and has been snoring too loud for me to sleep. While I feel for him (colds suck and I want him to feel well!), it’s frustrating that it so severely impacts my sleep, health, and how I feel as well. They say marriage is give-and-take for a reason; I’m sacrificing my own wellness and energy and trying to let him snore away and sleep so he gets better. As the nights of missed hours accumulate however, I’m starting to suffer a lot. Thankfully, there are no appointments to attend today and I’m determined to stay as upbeat and productive as possible.

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