29 April 2005

Cosmic Classroom

I am having a bit of a revelation, at the same time as typing this blog and working my way through a bowl of instant noodles (brunch), so bear with me if this goes off at a tangent or conversely implodes. Ooh, a black hole of thought, yeah I think I have caused those before.

Excuse pause there, the noodles went from scalding to simply piping hot - so, first executive decision of the day, I scoffed the lot in double quick time, to get the bowl off my lap.

My big cosmic lesson from that last month or so looks like its going to be: a dose of humility.

This is how my head worked it backwards.

My 'to do list' is going to have to be a lot smaller than I had first envisaged. Part of the reason for it was to display it publicly in the house and start to re-educate my husband on exactly what it is I do at home all day (although, perversely, at this point in time he happens to be right).

I cant afford to pen a huge list and work like a lunatic, and courtesy of a long and beneficial support call, from a dear and sensible friend I have decided:

I have from 9.30am to 2.30pm to reasonably achieve anything in the order that I want it done - outside of those boundaries there are some highly maverick personalities in the equation, ie husband and two kids.

Knock half an hour out of that to eat, because in my fire-fighting, tail-chasing life as it is, I never get time to eat before taking the kids to school. Hence the brunch noodles.

10 am to 2.30 = 4 1/2 hours. My priorities are, at this point:
  1. All admin (bills, business, special needs assessments and the lot)
  2. Room to breathe and think (essentials - being able to see my desktop/the carpet/the bottom of the kitchen sink, knowing the kids scjhool uniform is sorted etc)
  3. Social education and reminders - blitzing the kids rooms, laying a spotlessly clean guilt trip in their usual sock and school-bag dumping spots, starting to be a bit firm about things (which I used to be, but not during the bleughs))
  4. My sanity. I dont know how many years its been since I had a totally guilt free, giggly hour of relaxation or silliness. Sure I've had them, but never since I first had kids have they been taken without a long list of other things I ought to be doing, running round in the back of my head and spoiling it. For the record, my eldest kid is 22. I havent had the sensation of nothing on my case, for 22 years. Blimey.
To that end, I am going to pick FIVE things a day to achieve, rotating the 'extra thing' around the first three types of work.

The big issue is that I cannot allow myself to dive into a single one of those needs and stay there until its all done. There are too many jobs within jobs, I have to be selective and pick the nigglers and biggies, or allocate a set amount of time to a set task.

Thats driving me nuts.

I know its going to work, but my revelation is not that I am a control freak (I am actually very laid back and open minded), but I AM a proficiency freak. If you could see my house you would fall over laughing at that statement, but its true. I allocate such an extremely high status to maintaining my self respect through being on the ball, in the know, aware of all angles, on time, ahead of time, prepared for anything and generally an administrative superstar, that faced with failure I stall, freeze, come to a halt, find myself overwhelmed. Talk about anal.

At some point during my childhood or shitty first marriage, or maybe even during the years I existed on a wish and a prayer as a single mother in debt and on benefits, I became a self-control addict. Possibly it was at one of the times when my good name and personal pride were quite literally the only possessions I could lay claim to. As the walls of my spiritual castle went into retreat to defend a smaller and smaller element of my life, so they became thicker and more impenetrable. I sunk my teeth into the concept of 'being capable' and forgot to let go.

This has caused me so much trouble! Every time circumstances have stopped me from performing miracles, looking back I can see how thoroughly and constantly I beat myself up about it. It made me inflexible to say the least, and that lack of fluidity meant that (as, for example, now), when life threw a curve ball and my plans fell down around my ears, I couldnt see where to start on the path back. As far as reliability, trustworthiness, dependancy and all those elements of my ego that I like(d) to kid myself were inalienable, I was an all-or-nothing kinda gal. Couldn't concieve of things being otherwise, so couldnt deal with 'otherwise' when it hit me. Most times it turned me into a short tempered, muttering, grumbling little savage who wouldnt sit still or let up until it was all back to 'my way'. This time, it seems to have drawn me to a complete stop.

So heres the new realisation: I aint so hot. Some militant part of my brain, that wants to disagree, is scowling at me like a schoolmarm with a big cane, even as I write this.
I think it looks like my mother, at least my mother when she used to raise one sarcastic eyebrow at me when I hadnt done my homework, the manifestation of my mother that told me repeatedly I was supposed to have gone to university and met a nice young man there; the one that peppered every statement with words like 'ought,' 'should' and 'potential.'

OK look, bugger that for now, I'll go dream-walking my past when I'm asleep, theres time for that. Right now I have to break a habit. Step one is to pick five naff, easy, achievable tasks out of the millions in the queue, and do them by 2.30. Of course the real trial in that is going to be forcing myself to feel like thats an achievement.

Let battle commence.


Anonymous said...

Doris wonders why you use the word "failure" or reckon you are "not so hot"?

There is no such thing as failure, just hurdles, and to be a woman is pretty darned hot in itself. Let alone the things that you personally have achieved.

After you have left that cr*p out of the equation did you manage to choose and do 5 things? (In addition to the 101 other things we women do in auto-pilot.) I'd love to know! It is now 5.15pm, nearly 3 hours after the deadline. Doris x

Just another American Expat said...

Now I understand fully what Sir Winston Churchill meant when he said, “America and Great Briton are two great nations separated by a common language.” This American vs. British English thing is really becoming a challenge.

Nigglers—sounds too much like the dreaded “N” word for me to even try to attempt using in the States.

Bugger that for now—I assume is something similar to “screw it for now”.

When life threw a curve ball—Wait a minute! That’s and American expression, or do they have curve balls in Cricket?

Just pulling your leg…another great read, and if it makes you feel any better…the realization of “I ain’t so hot” looks all of us mortals eyeballs from time to time.

Cheryl said...

Dear Expat

I should have said 'niggling' as in: Petty, especially in a nagging or annoying way; trifling: a pointless dispute over niggling details.(Answers.com)

Buggery is, certainly, a type of 'screwing'. I could have said 'sod that', another frequent term, but sodomy can include animals, if you go by the dictionary.


Thanks for a lovely comment :-)

Badaunt said...

Re keeping up with housework, I applaud your guilt. I have given up on it all. I have even given up feeling guilty about the mess.

However... I just spent about an hour looking for a post on someone's blog I read this morning which gave what looked to me like a brilliant method for dealing with a to-do list. WHO WROTE IT? I have been through ALL the blogs I subscribed to on Bloglines, and can't find the bloody thing.


This person told of her (or was it his?) mother's chore jar, in which she would put bits of paper with chores written on them. The kids had to take one when they got home from school (and hated it).

But she revived the custom for herself, by writing all the things she REALLY MUST DO onto bits of paper, all possible to do in an hour, and taking one at random, at a set time every day. The best part is, though, that some of these bits of paper say things like, "Read a book."

How's that for motivation?