The words keep ringing in the air as we sit across from each other, our sandwiches spread out between us.
“I just feel like you don’t have time for me anymore.”
I don’t even know what to say. It feels like an accusation, but I know my husband means it as fact.
It makes me feel like a complete failure. How could I have made him feel this way?! But in a way, I know he’s right. I don’t feel like I have time for anything anymore.
Life has been crazy for us lately. Both of us. And not just because of the four kids ages 5-12.
As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly trying to build the brand I’ve created around my literary podcast, “Moms Don’t Have to Read Books.” In addition to releasing three to five episodes a week of my author interviews — and reading all the books to prepare — I’m launching two new, super exciting business offshoots. I’ve assembled the backbone of a team (which includes part-time work from two of my kids’ babysitters and their chess teacher). I’m struggling to keep up with a steady stream of emails, texts, DMs, posts, and likes. Somehow each week, there seems to be more and more. It’s fun and rewarding and amazing and I’m so grateful. But it’s a lot.
Kyle is busy, too. His production company is now engaged in making music, movies, and TV shows. He’s on and off calls, flying to LA for meetings with a moment’s notice, “Slack-ing” with his team, scouting talent.
Does any of it really matter?
Kyle and I have been married for almost three years. My previous marriage, which netted those four children, ended in divorce. Kyle’s and my marriage which closely followed was a true love match. We met, mated and married on the tennis court.
At first, everything was sunshine and rainbows. But now, time, pesky time has reared its ugly ticking head. I’m constantly evaluating: Am I using my time most efficiently? Could I do this better? Faster? I second guess every move. Every moment. I cram things in. I do things quickly, sometimes too fast, emailing an author instead of my accountant about an insurance bill. I end up at book launch events on the wrong days. I forget to sign up for parent-teacher conference right when the link is live.
Yes, I make some sloppy mistakes but on balance, I get a lot done, including spending quality time with my kids. That I never skimp on.
Here’s what I haven’t been fitting in enough of: my husband.
Also: my friends. A dear friend lost her elderly father last week and all I’ve done is send her one text. On a group chain! I’m so mortified by my behavior that I can barely bring myself to apologize. I haven’t spoken to my crew of college girlfriends in months. I’ve only been attending parts of close friend’s bar mitzvahs.
Instead, I have heart-to-hearts with five new authors a week. These conversations “fill my bucket” in a way similar to what close friendship does. I’ve become a bit addicted to the feeling of those 30 minutes of uninterrupted time, listening, learning, connecting.
But it’s not the same. When is the last time I’ve taken 30 minutes sitting in my same podcast chair to Facetime my close friend from Denver? My goddaughter? My grandmother? Friends who live just a few blocks away? My husband who is working in the next room?!?!
I’m prioritizing my professional life over other things I hold dear. What kind of balance is that?!
I miss my husband. I long to snuggle next to him, laugh, and have that sense of unlimited time that taunts me from select vacations in our past. Our honeymoon at Wimbledon. A trip to Malibu. Heck, even just a trip to Duane Reade. He’s so close yet he seems out of reach. Even at night, the kids come in and out of our room, our bed, just enough to make us constantly tired. Always on high alert.
I guess the answer is that I have reclaim that time or it will continue to slip away without my noticing it, like air slowly sailing through a hole in a balloon. I won’t notice until it collapses. No matter how professionally successful I could potentially be, I know I’ll feel like an abject failure if the people I love don’t know it or feel it. Especially Kyle.
After all, it’s his creative energy, love, and encouragement that has allowed me to accomplish anything. The way he believes in me literally makes me believe in myself. I know I’m lucky to even have the choice to “slow down,” but as any entrepreneur knows, that drive, that 24/7 need to do more and more and more, is hard to compete with. Some days I feel like I’m in the backseat of a speeding car. (Okay, fine: a car with booster seats.)
I know I have to take it one day, one opportunity, at a time. I have to create snippets of time for what’s important. Sneak in an extra hug here. A cup of coffee together there. An episode of “Succession” before we pass out. Get something on the calendar. I know this whole thing is a “woe is me” problem, but I also know that nothing good comes from having your spouse feel like he or she isn’t a priority.
I’ll figure it out. I have to do better.
After all, love is the only thing in life that’s truly timeless.