Confession of a Shark Syndrome Sufferer

photo flickr Allan Lee

This morning I tiptoed into my son’s room to gather his clothes for the day. Though I was quiet, his little head popped out of his blanket cocoon and he gave me a big, “Hi, Mom!”
My kids ventured back to school today, and though I wasn’t sending them off while two-fisting martinis, I also wasn’t the teary mom who waited until the classroom doors closed before I moped back to my car.
Summers are tough. For some reason I try to be stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. The two are immiscible, but year after year I test it out.
This morning was the first time in three months that I had 6 uninterrupted-hours to work, eat, and exercise. It was bliss.
Of course, my life isn’t getting any less hectic. I find myself taking heaving breathes multiple times per day just to make sure I’m actually consuming oxygen on a regular basis.
I suffer from what I affectionately label shark syndrome. Ever hear the not-so-true fact that if a shark stops swimming it will drown? That’s how I feel. And just like the shark, it isn’t entirely true—but I find it more believable about the giant fish than I do myself.
My days are full, and that’s an understatement. Here’s my agenda just for today:

6:30 AM- wake up, pack lunches, iron clothes, make breakfast, finish morning chores, get kids ready by 8 AM
8AM- drop kids off at school
8:20AM- return home, walk dog, tend chickens, and prep for clients
9-11AM- train clients (I only train clients a few hours a week now)
11-11:15Am- Eat something
11:15AM-12:30PM- film videos for GetGlutes
12:30-1:30- Edit videos and get them posted
1:30-2:15- Work out
2:15-2:45- Answer emails from clients and business partners
2:45- Get kids, make snacks, settle them in (luckily no homework yet)
3:45- Bash out a random blog post about how I can’t stop doing things all the time
5:30- Get son ready for football and drop him off by 6 PM
6PM- Rush daughter to rehearsal without getting a ticket or being late
6:30- Arrive home, cook dinner, walk dog, kiss husband, finish yard work
8PM- Head back to theatre to pick up daughter and rush over to pick up son so he’s not the abandoned child at the football field
8:45- feed children, rush them to the shower and get them in bed
9:45- crash on sofa, only to realize that the wash isn’t finished…
10PM- Shower, watch Daily Show and Colbert Report
11:30PM- Bed time

This is my life all day everyday and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And that’s the problem.
That dreaded shark syndrome.
I can’t sit still. I can’t stop doing things all the time. I have a hard time saying no or choosing one thing over the other. I never ask for help, and I feel if I don’t finish things the world will crumble—or I will drown.
It’s a dreaded disease. Do you have it, too?
I find it easier to crash and burn every few months than to take time for myself. I have a feeling this may be all too familiar to some of you.
I guess I’m writing more of a confessional than anything. Perhaps my post will make you feel a bit more normal—or make you think I’m a total nutcase.
I was accepted into the George Washington University Master’s of Professional Studies in Publishing program, which begins next week. I also volunteer 5 hours per week, and am working on two web app projects as a contracted expert. For some crazy reason, it all feels right. I feel accomplished.
Maybe I have it all backward. Maybe I am really drowning and constant moving is causing it.
Sometimes I don’t know the right answer, but I know if I stop to think about everything will crumble (a little overachiever humor). In all seriousness, success isn’t bred through a 4-hour workweek, 4-hour body, or anything else 4 hours.
Believe me, I tried to figure that out—how to live a life that just manages itself.
It doesn’t happen.
What I do know is in those moments of clarity, the moments when I can sit back with a cool glass of chardonnay and relish in all that I have. Those moments when I watch my children play in the yard, chasing chickens and giggling. That is when I know I’m doing it all right.

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  • A lot of great advice from your commenters!

  • LOL – isn’t that every mom’s day? Also add 2 hours commute time and 8+ hours of corporate time and you’ve got most of our daily schedules!

  • Agree completely! When I’m in a lull and I don’t have much going on I feel so lost. I feel useless, too. Glad I’m not alone on this.

  • I feel the same way… And I love life the most when I’m in shark mode! I actually start feeling depressed and develop a really negative attitude when I don’t have a plan for the day/week or when I don’t feel “productive.” Watching a movie in the afternoon… That would bug me. What a waste!

  • That is so true! Last Saturday my husband asked me to watch a movie with him in the afternoon. About 30 minutes in I got antsy and had to get up and do something. You are dead on about having that routine. It just makes like move more fluidly.

  • Over the summer, some of my weekly commitments take the holiday (meditation group and choir mainly). Both of these are scheduled on Wednesday, my day off from work. This summer, I noticed that it was more difficult to keep up with my schedule. Slacking has increased the longer I have been away from these groups. It seems like, to me/for me, that if I am not busy, I get less of the things done that need to be done. The less time I have to get everything done in, the more likely I am to get it done. An object in motion stays in motion, maybe?

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