A couple weeks ago I mentioned I was going through a thing.
I think it’s a midlife crisis.
Or, as I prefer to call it, a midlife wake up call.
After a near collapse and total shutdown about three weeks ago, I started seriously reevaluating my life.
And since then, I’ve had a series of epiphanies.
Over the past couple years, bit by bit, I designed a life for myself that I was slowly killing me.
I didn’t realize how unmanageable things had become because my brain was so jam packed full of stuff there was no room for any real reflection.
When we wrapped up the middle school swim team in the first week of February and that was no longer taking up any of my brain space, it was like the cogs in my brain were able to start moving.
And then they were like, HOLY SHIT. THIS IS NOT GOOD.
For two days after the middle school swim team banquet, I was unable to really function at all.
If I had lots and lots of money, I would have checked myself into rehab for exhaustion.
I gave myself five days to decompress and catch up on rest and do some thinking.
I knew I had to make some big decisions.
And I knew my kids weren’t going to be super happy about one of them.
I talk a lot about swimming. It’s a big part of our lives.
I have four kids who are year round swimmers.
At one point, five of the kids were on the team.
My two oldest compete at the elite level.
Swimming is very important to all of them. And me.
Two years ago, we made the decision to change swim teams.
For non swimmers, this may not seem like that big of a deal. But if you are a swimmer — or if you are seriously involved in any sport — then you can appreciate this kind of decision. It’s a pretty big one. And there is uncertainty and disappointment and anticipation and hurt feelings and excitement and drama that goes along with it.
We left the team we’d been swimming with for six years, a team that practices less than 3 miles from our house, and moved to a team that’s 35+ miles away.
Our commute went from 5 minutes to 50 minutes. Sometimes more like an hour.
At the time it was the right decision for a whole bunch of reasons.
The reasons aren’t really important.
For us, at the time, it was a good move.
But over the course of the last two years, things have changed.
Things have changed at home, things have changed with the kids, things have changed with me, and things have changed with my parents.
Because people change and circumstances change.
And life changes
For the past two years, I have invested anywhere between 9 and 20 hours a week driving my kids to and from swim practice and swim meets.
Last week I spent 16 hours driving to practices and swim meets.
That’s two full work days.
That’s a lot of time.
And with the all the changes that have been happening, what I have realized over the past couple months and weeks is that this isn’t working for me anymore.
The decision that made sense two years ago no longer makes sense.
It is making my life unmanageable.
I have known this for a while.
But I haven’t made any changes because my kids, two of them in particular, would be really, really, REALLY upset if we were to leave the team.
Well, that’s what I told myself.
And this fear of their reaction to change was stopping me from doing anything.
In fact, I had catastrophized Number 3’s reaction so badly, that I was terrified to pull the trigger and do what I knew was best for me and our family in general.
I envisioned my son quitting swimming, developing a drug habit as a means of coping with his disappointment, OD’ing, and then dying.
Because we were going to change swim teams.
Fear of something that hadn’t even happened (and in all likelihood never would) was stopping me from making a necessary change in my life.
So yesterday I finally ripped off the bandaid and told Number 3.
He was upset.
I don’t blame him.
Even though I know this is what makes the most sense for our family now, I’m sad, too. Because I wish things had worked out differently.
But life happens and shit happens, and sometimes you have to make hard decisions.
I stressed myself out for a good 2 weeks worrying about what Number 3’s reaction would be.
I talked to Number 4 about it first about a week ago.
She’s a little bit more rational about things in general, and she can appreciate how our lives will change for the better by eliminating 9-20 hours of driving in the car each week.
I had worked myself into quite a frenzy. I confided in her.
What if your brother does this? What if your brother does that?
And she turned to me and said,
“Mom. What if he doesn’t? Maybe he won’t be as upset as you think he will. Maybe he won’t really freak out at all.”
And darn it if my 13-year-old daughter wasn’t right.
Initially, Number 3 was upset.
But then he, came around.
In fact, once he had some time to digest the news, he saw how it would be better for him in the long run.
All that freaking out on my part for nothing!!!
So, I learned a few more lessons this week. And I had a whole bunch of reminders.
The biggest reminder?
Our kids handle change better than we think they can.
We adults are the ones who freak out about it.
For me, here is what I realized.
I am going to miss the team we moved to. I am going to miss the pool we practice in. I have made some new friends, and I will miss seeing them.
Most of all, I am REALLY going to miss the kids I coach. I love them, and I love coaching in general.
But the relief I experienced, the literal weight I felt leave my shoulders once I finally pulled the trigger, made a decision, and talked to the head coach and then talked to my kids, was palpable.
It’s the right decision.
I feel it in my body.
All those weeks of stress and fear could have been avoided if I had just listened to my gut and if I had stopped projecting shit that wasn’t a reality.
Another lesson learned.
So my kids and I will finish out the season with our team. We have four weeks left.
And then, life will change.
It’s bittersweet. But it’s for the best.
I’m really looking forward to spending less time with my kids in the car.
And much more time with them, in the moment.