Not sure if many of you watched Seinfeld back in the day it originally aired. I did and there is one episode that really resonates with me right now. What I remember about the episode is the fact that George was in conflict with his two personas: Independent George and Relationship George. Relationship George was killing fun-loving Independent George.
I admit I have the same problem. Relationship Renée (“RR”) is causing all sorts of problems for Independent Renée (“IR”) and IR does not get off so lightly in the blame department either.
IR seems to forget what RR’s life is like the minute the kids walk out the door to spend time with their dad.
IR, in a bid to stave off loneliness, takes on work commitments, volunteer commitments and social commitments. All IR can think is that she must fill the hours that the children are absent. IR must be productive and not wallow in self-pity.
Then the children seem to suddenly descend and IR becomes RR. Suddenly, RR finds herself having to make breakfast, lunch and dinner, ferry kids around to various activities all while trying to finish the work that IR started and did not finish in her free time. In addition, these children are constantly disrupting the peace and quiet of the work space. How is RR supposed to get anything done! The children are no longer with RR, they are with GR – can you guess? Yup. Grumpy Renée.
GR longs for the peaceful solitude that IR had. Seriously, what was IR thinking, lonely? I’ll give you lonely, GR thinks. GR would kill for some lonely time when she is in the thick of getting everything done. GR looks ahead at IR’s calendar and cuts a swath through everything. “That ignorant IR!” thinks GR. “I’ll teach her to overschedule and overcommit. She is not doing anything this weekend when the kids are with their dad. She is going to recharge and lay low and prepare herself for the week ahead when the kids are back.”
Then quicker than you can blink IR is back and staring at the weekend ahead that GR just planned. IR recharges in a day and then peaceful solitude turns to debilitating loneliness. IR adds as many things as she can to stave off loneliness and starts to create rules for RR. RR must go to yoga during the week. RR must do better at getting work done when the kids are in bed. “NO MORE NETFLIX RR!” shouts IR.
Then RR is back and trying to negotiate these rules that IR setup. “IR has not been using that brain of hers again.” She doesn’t know how exhausting it is to work all day, fight with the kids over bedtime routines and now she wants me write blog posts and better myself in the hours of 9 to 11 pm?” I cannot do it, thinks RR. RR gets depressed and wonders what the point is off all this work anyway. Seriously RR says to herself. There must be a better way.
As with everything, communication is key. Much like the movie Mememto, RR and IR have started to leave notes for each other on their shared desk.
These are the notes from RR to IR
- Before taking anything on, ask yourself if it fits your values and beliefs.
- What are you taking this new project on for?
- Would you do this if you were short of time? or are you just doing it to keep busy?
(yes, all the notes are a variation on a theme)
These are the notes from IR to RR
- I am sacrificing some of my weekend fun time to catch up on grunt work. Please make sure you try to let go when you are with the kids and have some fun time with them.
- I am recharging and using this time so you can not turn into GR. Please remember that your time with the kids is brief and the most important thing is to be present with them and take care of yourself.
- Please remember to look for time when you can complete work when you are RR. Schedule a reasonable amount of time for me to complete that work if you don’t and don’t forget to schedule something fun for me to look forward to.
Then IR adds more as she has more time to reflect than RR: “I know it’s tough RR, but remember, you eventually get to have some solitude, think of all the single parents out there that do not have a co-parent. Remember to be grateful.”
Slowly, these messages between IR and RR are starting to get through.
The one common message that they tell the other? “It’s going to take time to get this right, be kind to yourself in the meantime and I will forgive your errors in judgement. Afterall, we learn best from our mistakes!”