Day Sixty-Two: Living to Plan, Planning to Live; Live Planning

Still nothing worth reporting on the no booze, no restaurant front.  This morning I took the baby to run some errands and it was hot, but beautiful, and I would have loved to stop for a bottle of sparkling water for me and some snacks for him, and sit outside in this great square with “dancing water” we found nearby, but I did not.  And the baby seemed to enjoy the snack I packed for him just as much as what I would have been able to buy, and my lukewarm water (I still haven’t figured out the ice maker) was just fine.  While we were still at home I also treated myself* to about a quarter of a shot of espresso with a little maple syrup and a generous splash of almond milk, so I have little to complain about.  Seriously, it was delicious.

I was thinking about planning, about how smoothly things can run when plans come together, and how messy things can get without a plan.  Back when I was still a single parent I used to say it was like operating without a margin of error, or flying without a net.  For example.  If the nanny got sick, I still had to go to work, and all of my family and friends were hundreds of miles away.  What happens?  I had to call in sick.  Which means if I actually got sick, well, I couldn’t get sick, because there was no margin for that.  Every dollar that came in had a specific purpose, and although I managed to squirrel away some of it for emergencies, there was never “extra.”  It was a stressful way to live, but it kept me sharp and alert, and I always made sure I had a plan, and there was some comfort in that.

After HW and I were married, there was a brief window of time when his work schedule was extremely flexible.  He put in long hours, but he could work mostly from home, and he was able to do a lot at night and during nap time.  At the time he also made about six times what I did, so things started to look a little different.  All of a sudden it wasn’t about earning enough money to provide what was needed, but about what we wanted to do.  It was a glorious time filled with a lot of playing and exploring and adventures and brunches, and although we made a budget and a plan in the beginning, as time went on it was less necessary, so planning gave way to living.

A lot has changed since then, and now we find ourselves somewhere in between the two extremes.  I am not a single parent anymore, by any stretch, and I am so thankful for that.  Even if HW is working or is traveling, I know he’s coming back, and I know I have his complete support.  I’m not doing it alone, and in fact I have a true partner.  That alone makes a huge difference.  But we also have four kids now instead of two (four is more than two, sometimes so so so much more than two, and often seems so much more than four), and due to some unforeseen circumstances (mostly this, but other things too), we’ve had to make some changes.  And sometimes HW does have to work long hours, and working from home, at least at the moment, is not an option.

So, again, I find myself seeking balance.**  Meal plans and shopping lists are essential to survival right now, especially because we are committed to clean eating.  Having a working budget is also essential.  As the days go by and we settle into a more final routine, it will be important to plan other things too, like a more specific morning routine, a bathing schedule, etc.  Things that are tough to plan until kids’ activities are more definite.  It’s also important to me to have some long-term planning in place, to be well-insured, to set some money aside for the future, for emergencies, and for other unexpected circumstances, things like that, and I would also like to put together a less definite five year and ten year plan.

I think all of those plans are necessary, just because we have a pretty full life.  I want to avoid over-planning and over-scheduling, because I also want to leave room for living.  I want to be able to wake up on Saturday morning and spontaneously announce that we are going to spend the day at the beach, or going to have some other special adventure.  I want to be able to spend an entire afternoon building forts and castles in the play room.  I want to have a water balloon fight and run through the sprinklers just because we feel like it.  I want to have a working plan in place that just flows seamlessly, so I can make the plan, and then not have to think much about it after that.

I want to plan, in order to live better.  I do not want to live, in order to plan better.

*I wanted to insert a gif here, something from Parks and Recreation, but the first one I clicked on used “too” instead of “to” and it sort of killed the mood.

**I know, giving up drinking and eating out for thirty days doesn’t exactly sound “balanced,” but sometimes finding balance requires knowing the limits.  I think my first year of law school helped me learn the upper limits of what alcohol can or should be, and my first year of marriage helped me learn the upper limits of fine dining.  For the next thirty days, I will have an opportunity to see the other side.

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