Remember that episode of “The Brady Bunch” where Jan, wanting to make friends and be more popular, enthusiastically signs up for each and every after school club and activity?
(OK, I am totally aging myself with that reference, but oh well …. ever since I hit 40, I find I care about that less and less).
ANYWAY… the point of that episode, as I saw it, was how easy it is to overextend yourself. It's better to do a few activities and serve them well instead of trying to do too much and not having much time for anything.
That’s always stuck with me and, until recently, I thought it applied well to my kids, too. Both seemed to not just want, but need their down time. Play dates or too many after school activities during the week just led to meltdowns. Better to keep it simple.
Except this year, my daughter pulled a switcheroo. She wanted to do school chorus! And Battle of the Books! And piano lessons, church choir and oh, Mom, I have a great idea for the science fair!
My spinning mind struggled to keep up, although surprisingly, she had no problem meeting all the deadlines. Indeed, she seemed to thrive from the increased activity, making me reluctant to force her to pull back (even if it was driving me batty in the meantime, trying to keep it all straight). She was well on her way, and finally, I found my groove, and I marveled at the change in her.
And then, last week, it all caught up to us. Emma got a cold, a pretty nasty cough and sneeze fest that came up Saturday afternoon and sidelined her immediately. She didn’t have a fever and her symptoms weren’t terribly alarming; she just felt icky and didn’t really want to do much. She lay on the couch and watched a little TV and dozed on and off and that’s it. No reading or researching or practicing …. just resting.
I kept waiting for this seemingly minor illness to turn into something more, especially when she didn’t want to go to school Monday (she has only missed one day of school, ever, way back in second grade). But no, it seems to me now that on top of a seasonal sniffle, her body was just forcing her to slow down, to ease up. Funny how life has a way of doing that.
So she has a few deadlines to make up, but she’s handling it in stride. And I got a reminder that I shouldn’t worry so much, always trying to steer the wheel. Emma seems to be driving just fine.
Jennifer Joyner is a mom of two, freelance writer and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Find her here on Wednesdays.