My neighbor Lynne is genuinely one of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of getting to know. And most of those getting-to-know-you sessions have occurred on the train as we commuted to our downtown offices together. Here's how Lynne is having it all.
Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
Well, I don't think of myself as unique but I suppose I have some interesting aspects to my life. I was a very independent in my youth. I had my own apartment for years, enjoyed going out with my friends and I switched jobs every time I was bored (which was fairly often). I was not even sure that I ever wanted to get married. I met Paul when I was 27 and by the time I was 30, I realized that I needed to strive for career and some stability. Paul and I decided to travel to Europe for 4 months and then attend grad school. We ended up in Boston, where I became employed as an attorney for Department of Children and Families, and we never returned to Conn. After we were together for 8 years, I decided that marriage was not all that scary after all and we were married in a small ceremony in Rome (I was 35). We continued to travel every year to a variety of countries (mostly Asia by that time). When I turned 40, I started to consider children but by then I was older and didn't want to spend years in fertility treatments. I was very impressed by the China adoption program and when we attended our first info session, I immediately knew that this was something that we were destined to do. Adopting Eleanor was the most thrilling event in my life and our trip to China was more like a fairy tale. She is just wonderful in every way and I am thrilled to make her the focal point in my life even though it is chaotic at times (she swims 3 days a week; takes dance once a week; piano once a week; Chinese school -- dance and language -- for 3 hours once a week; soccer once a week; and she just talked me into signing her up for gymnastics). I just couldn't imagine my life without her.
What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
I deal with my hectic schedule through organization. I have a large monthly calendar at home with all of our appointments/activities and another one at work that includes deadlines so that I can see (often) what I am facing that month in a glance. I also have a small calendar for weekly items that I carry with me and a chalk board in the kitchen for daily stuff. I organize all of my dinner menus for that week in advance so I know what I am cooking and can get right to it when I get home after work. If my organization fails and I find myself in chaos, I could easily become angry with myself -- so I try to keep in mind that I am doing the best that I can -- and that I need to enjoy these days because Eleanor will not stay young forever. Or I simply yell at Paul for not helping me enough - LOL!
Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.
The moments where I lose it tend to be connected to incidents that I cannot control. When Eleanor was hospitalized at the age of 18 months for surgery to correct a reflux condition, I was under incredible stress. I never felt anything like it. At that time, I had many "talks" with myself -- that she would be fine, that freaking out wasn't helping anyone, etc. and I educated myself as much as possible about her condition. Of course, she recovered completely and all was well -- but that incident showed me how stressful it is to have an ill child and how hard it can be for parents in such situations.
Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
I think my friends (Tom and Karen) are my role models. Their two boys are grown up and out of college now but I always remember how much fun they had together as a family over the years. They did everything with the boys and Karen at the age of 30 learned to ski even though she was petrified. The boys could be a handful at times but Karen and Tom always seemed to be able to keep things in perspective. Karen is easy going -- unlike me -- but I often think of how she would respond when I am starting to feel frustrated.
Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?I am not sure I can remember back that far! Seriously, at that age, I had no solid plans other than attending college. I wasn't even sure I wanted to obtain a bachelor's degree -- never mind graduate from law school. I never would have imagined that I would travel to so many interesting countries; that I would have a great job advocating for children as a lawyer; that I would be married in Rome to a wonderful guy or have a beautiful Chinese daughter who means the world to me. If someone had told me that would be my future, I never would have believed them -- I really do feel at times that I am the luckiest of women.
Relate to what Lynne is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!