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  • Writer's pictureAlli Fields

Chapter 20 Selfish vs Selfless

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote. I have felt the effects of not having my outlet, but I also knew I could not take the time to write and stay sane. If you recall from the last chapter, I ended it by saying how important it is to find something for you. To have hobbies and not feel guilty about it… Well, I think I took my own advise a tad too aggressively the past couple weeks. Since I wrote last I have taken on a few projects! My husband and I worked with Rise Up Children’s Choir and Amplify Rise Up Children’s Choir (same group, just a smaller unit with a different genre) to help choreograph and teach for two of their Music Videos. You can check those out on YOUTUBE. Search for Rise Up Children’s Choir. The covers are “Rain on Me” (Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande) and “Dynamite” (BTS). What an incredibly talented group of kids and awesome directors. Such a privilege to work with them and these skilled children.

NEXT! I have been choreographing for Lakeridge Jr High School’s Fall Musical Production of “High School Musical jr”. It’s been a wild ride as we have been navigating COVID19 restrictions and safety guidelines. I spend a lot of my weekdays teaching groups of 15 to 50 kids choreography and blocking for a show that will hopefully get a socially distant audience mid November! Still in it’s beginning stages, but I cannot wait to see it’s final product. I LOVE putting a show together! The journey is healing for me. Finding pieces, putting them together, refining them and turning it all into a beautiful gem of a performance is my passion. It gives me purpose, pride and self love to know I was able to contribute to such an event.

Most recently, as in this morning, I was invited to clean a number for a very talented Dance Company at Westlake High School, Directed by the stunning and talented -Chelsea Budge. What that means is I went to watch, and perfect the movement. Make sure the lines were clean, the

angles were the same, the style was portrayed accurately and the timing was precise. I LOVE THIS! I have an eyes for detail. Whether that is an emotional cleaning- where I pull out the emotions that should be emoted during a piece, or truly cleaning the lines and movement so the are crisp and clear… I attribute this passion to my competitive cheer coach from 7th grade, Britney Harper Wakefield. She drilled us until we were clean and perfect and we competed placing in the top in every competition. She instilled in me the beauty of a crisp and clean number. I have used that in EVERYTHING I have created or assisted in. Back to the point! It’s been a crazy but super fun ride and explosion of getting to do what I love!

I digress, I am back to my normal speed. Mother, Wife, Work, PTA President Elect, Choreographer and planning committee for my religious group. I won’t lie, sometimes it’s overwhelming. But my perfectionism needs things to excel at. Things slide when I am overwhelmed. I keep mini planners for each thing and a master calendar with a note of what the calendar item is for. Then I head to my mini planner for details on the event. Sometimes I miss things or don’t get to put as much effort into something as I would like. With something as important to me as my blog and my story, I don’t want to put in a basic effort and share something simple and basic. This blog to me is a place of healing. For me, for you, for strangers who haven’t began reading it yet. It’s important to me to post what is raw, real and personal. If I cannot dedicate my time to it, I don’t want to do it. This is why my past couple weeks have passed by with no new chapter..

With so much going on, stresses have been high, and I wanted to share something I have learned in the process. I feel it is an important notion to share. It's a big part of my life chapter this week,

even though it's not in story form. Doing something for you will not always make everyone around you happy. Even those who love you. My husband works a grueling work schedule. I have one weekly meeting for work. This meeting is right in his sleep time. However, I need him to care for our two youngest when I go. He has to sacrifice some of his sleep time.

He does this mostly willingly, but often with a reminder of how hard it is and tiring it is to mess up his sleep pattern. As a mother- this makes me want to pull my hair out. It’s not his fault, I really think a lot of men don’t get it. My sleep is constantly messed up… I rarely get a solid block of sleep, or a long set of hours for sleep. My sleep is often broken, with tiny toes digging into my back, thighs and arms. Broken with cries from another room from a nightmare, or inability to find the bathroom door in the dark. My sleep is delayed with one late napper who won’t sleep until 2AM, then I have to wind myself down. Often not drifting to sleep until 3AM. I am meant to arise at 6:30 to get my oldest ready for school.

Jake makes it home about 6:45a and takes her to school, comes home, winds down and goes to bed. But what typically happens, is I cannot get up at 6:30a. I am so exhausted that I just can't. I try. I have alarms a make plans… Jake comes home to what seems like a lazy wife. He lets me sleep and he gets our oldest up and ready for school and on her way. I try my hardest to have her prepared with her lunch made, backpack packed, and her outfit ready. All he should have to do is get her breakfast and do her hair. Luckily he is great at doing her hair! I often arise feeling guilty and awful knowing he has been up all night working insanely hard. He ends up staying awake for a good chunk of the day because HE feels guilty for sleeping when he could be spending time with his kids.

So where is the balance here? How do we both quit feeling guilty… We haven’t mastered this yet, but I truly think the point is to remember we are partners. there are not really ROLES we have to be restricted to. Why should I feel guilty for snagging more sleep when he is home and already awake with the intent to be awake long enough to take our oldest to school? Why should he expect me to sleep for 3 hours and function the entire day as the only caregiver while he sleeps, prepare dinner, have 30 minutes together and then be alone with them again to try and put them to sleep until we do it all again the next day?

Why should he expect me to have no hobbies or desires to do anything without my kids, or to do something that fills me with joy? He has hobbies and desires and I never tell him not to or no. This is why we feel guilty and why we have expectations…. because we don’t think about each other. We are subconsciously being selfish, self centered and entitled. We both feel like we should get our free time, and have our hobbies and roles so we have time for the things we want… But let me tell you what typically happens in a partnership…. one parent takes on more than the other… The other doesn’t notice the weight isn’t even. When the one with less weight feels more weight than they are used to- they push back with a ‘HEY! Pick up your slack, I’m struggling with the extra weight.’ and the other partner either takes it back or explodes with- LOOK- this is not split evenly. I have 75% of the weight and you have 25%. I needed a rest or a break…. I gave you the 25% I usually carry for you to even it out for a time. I cant handle all the weight all the time! ‘

In reality we should be “fighting” for the majority of the weight. trying to ease one another’s burden. ‘What can I take off your plate?’ or maybe it’s ‘I’d love to give you an hour without any responsibilities or distractions.’ or any other way you can think to serve or ease the burdens on your partner. If we shift our mindset to one of service rather than one of blame or of fairness, I think we would all have more gratitude and more joy in our partnerships. Allow each other time for self care or hobbies. It’s important for our health, joy and sanity. This is an area we struggle at in our house. We both feel we are doing a lot for the other, yet we both have grievances of weight too heavy to bear. I dialogue needs to occur, but opening that box is one of delicate nature. If not done carefully we can offend, hurt or place our partner on defense rather than compromising and helping one another.

As the holidays are coming up, it could be a great time to broach these topics… When the responsibilities are less enforced. School out, no deadlines to meet, projects closed, etc. As we start Fall Break here in my neck of the woods, I think of the benefits my husband may endure with no early morning school. I also think of the difficulty sticking to bedtime routines when my smarty pants 8 year old knows she doesn’t have an early morning expectation and pushes bed time. This means MY bedtime routine will be even more thrown with 3 pushing bedtime instead of 1 or 2. Set a simple goal each week to improve one opportunity to bear the burdens of your partner… My first goal is to get everyone to bed earlier so I can sleep and be up earlier to help Jake with whatever he needs help with. Maybe he is too tired to drive, I can take my oldest to school (or this week, he can go to bed earlier and catch up on the sleep he has been missing to spend time with us). I look forward to reporting on how my goal turns out and the results of how it made Jake feel. What goals are you setting? I would love to know! comment here on the blog or find me on social media ;).

For those with no idea how to have this conversation with your spouse… check out this document that may help you have that conversation. Print out two copies. Have your partner fill one out and you do the other… Compare Section 1, be honest with how the weight is distributed. In Section 2, see if there is room to shift some of the load. In Section 3 let your partner tell you where they would like some help and set a goal for how you can help them in that one area. Doing this regularly could really help your balancing act and make serving one another and seeking ways to help the other a second nature. Why? Because, Mama, YOU are worth it!

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