Monday, May 10, 2010

Time's Fun When You're Having Flies

I haven't felt like doing much of anything these days. I have been working, and while it is only one job at 8 hours a day, it is still a lot for my body and mind to handle. I am very proud that I have been handling it at all so far, but I do admit - I wish it was going a little better.

The job, while it is going wonderfully well, might not be going on past the end of the week. Stumpy did finally leave the job, but they offered his position to someone else - The New Old Guy. He was in the department before, he already knows the job, has an accounting degree, and gets along really well with everyone else. (That might seem like a small detail, but it makes a BIG difference to my manager (aka Cat Lady.) Also, it is a privately owned company and they can do whatever they like. Yes, I am a bummed about it, but I can't really blame Cat Lady. I don't have a degree in anything, let alone Accounting, and my perky ability to pick up on things only goes so far. I personally think that there is enough work to support a fourth person in the department, at least part time, but that hasn't been considered before now. It really can't even be examined as a possibility until The New Old Guy gets going again and they determine how job duties will be redistributed.

Having the Awesome Assignment has helped out tremendously in the cash flow over the last two months,  We did manage to get the bank to refund a very large amount of the bank fees that were accumulated by Pay Pal screwing us over (running the same - very large - transaction and then refunding it over and over again.) So financially, I guess you could say we are even - where we should have been all along.  But, I am still Me - no matter how much money I do (or don't) make. I see money in the bank, I know we have bills, but they aren't threatening to disconnect anything just yet, so I let the bills slide. I am more afraid of draining the account than I am of dealing with the utility companies. It doesn't make much sense to a sane person, but my brain doesn't see things as clearly as they should.

Also, I have had to do some shopping lately. I have gained yet another 5 pounds and now I have "outgrown" everything I own. In order to have things to wear to work that didn't feel like I was being choked from knees to shoulders, I had to make a few emergency purchases over the past weeks. Shopping for clothes at a time like this is a twisted combination of elation and self-loathing. It feels nice to wear new things and I like being able to look nice (because my clothes actually FIT.) On the other hand, I have to buy bigger clothes than I did before and adding a new size to my closet feels horrible - like I am giving in to the new weight by purchasing things to accomodate it. My mind personifies the extra weight and I start to think of it like an unwanted guest. Or maybe like a GROUP of unwanted guests that keep calling more of their friends to join them. To help myself deal with this, I pulled everything out of my closet that is too small and I put it in boxes. I won't get rid of them because I will need something to wer when I finally lose the weight, but not having to look at the pants that are 5 sizes smaller every time I go to the closet is a very good thing. Reducing the number of things that give me negative feelings is just a smart thing to do.

As I said before, I am doing my best to keep things going around here, but I think there is a timer set for my energy every day. I do really well until about an hour after I get home and then my body and my common sense just goes out the window. Some nights I get home before I realize there is nothing set out for dinner and shopping at that point feels like a cruel form of punishment. Other nights, I have set aside food for dinner, but I don't have the energy to cook. Little Heart doesn't feel like helping out. I can't work up the strength to "convince" her, so 7:30 comes around and everyone needs to eat, so something gets bought. This isn't a situation where I can complain about DH not helping. He works until 7:00 and his office is 30 minutes away. If I wait for him to come home and cook, no one eats until 9:00. (That's not to say that doesn't happen anyway, but it isn't nice to PLAN on it happening that way.)

The house feels like it has taken on a life of its own - a messy, cluttered, dusty life of its own. The mess drives me nuts, but I just can't fix it. If I try and do it I will wear myself out and cause my self a lot of physical pain that will last through the next day, at least. I do have three Darling Daughters (who actually made the mess in the first place) so I really should be getting them to take care of it. That is getting increasingly more difficult. By the time I get home (and the mess is worse than it was before) the girls have certain other things that they need to do. LH has homework every night and so does TD. They tend to put it off until someone makes them do it no matter how often I call and check up on them. If I insist that they do their chores at that point, they will not get their homework done and it will be partially my fault. Or, if they do have their homework done, they will put off their chores and that is a whole different fight. Besides that, when they actually DO their chores, they are extremely resitant to the idea of doing a single inch more than they have to. If I ask them to tidy the living room, anything beyind that border doesn't even get touched. If I ask them to unload the dishwasher, that is the only thing that will get done in the kitchen, no matter how much of a mess is there.

This all sounds like a whole lot like I have very spoiled children. I have to agree with you. Over the last few years, I have not been physically or mentally able to be the role model that they need. I do not have the energy to follow up with them when I ask them to do something or the strength to fight with them when they neglect to do it. Children are very much like a pack of wolves. They can smell fear and weakness and they will capitalize on it at every turn. I fear that my children do not respect me because of my inability to enforce what I say. They have become increasingly prone to argue and talk back to both DH and I and it makes me  very worried. The fact they they are somehow inherently good children is the only reason they have not gone rogue and formed their own violent Blonde Girls Gang that rampages the neighborhood looking for cookies and milk.

I know that the best way to lead is by example. I am not a very good leader. Doing the things that should be done every day until they are natural is difficult for me to do, so teaching my girls to do it seems nearly impossible. I have struggled with this my whole life and the older my kids get, the worse I feel about it. I have mentioned this before but, apparently, there are people and families who have tidy homes all the time because everyone picks up their own things and cleans up their own messes. This seems like a complete fabrication, to me. I have never lived this way.  I have seen tidy houses, and even houses thay seemed to stay tidy all the time, but I have never witnessed it in my own life.

Since I work a normal 8-5 job, all three of them walk home with the other kids in the neighborhood and they hang out until I get home from work. They are "alone" for no more than two hours. It is truly stupefying what damage can be done is such a short amount of time, though. I don't feel that hiring somone to keep them for that brief amount of time should be neccessary. I am also about to pull my hair out trying to get then to do what they should during these afternoons.

Recently, I have decided to use a new tool in an effort to increase the guidance I give them, whether I am home or not. I have a dry-erase board on an easel directly in view of the front door. We call it The Wipey Board of Information (or Shame, if they neglect it.)  I update it every day with information I want them to remember. I list the snacks for the afternoon, the plan for dinner, and the list of chores that I have assigned them. All of them usually seem to do pretty well with written lists. They are clear and specific and they can not be argued with. Plus, once a list is finished they are free to do whatever they want. It seems pretty fair to me.

I still come home most days to them playing outside in their bare feet, no homework or chores done, and a bigger mess left all over the place. My dilema here is that, I really don't want to complain about it. Having them play nicely together is far preferable to the frequent calls to my cell phone where they are tattling and complaining about each other. Plus, there are only a few hours of the day here where it is nice outside and I am very happy that they would want to be in the fresh air instead of staying cooped up indoors. With so many kids overweight and out of shape from TV and video games, I don't want to discourage them being active and socializing. Besides that, I feel tired and worn out after a full day of work, and I know they do, too. I want to rest and relax when I get home, why shouldn't they? I feel like a hypocrite sitting on my butt and yelling at them from the couch to do their chores.

I need to find some sort of a balance and routine where I can rely on things getting done, or at the very least not get worse while I am working. I want them to be kids and enjoy their life but I don't want them to become spoiled. Most of all, I don't want to raise them in a way that encourages laziness and clutter and makes them think that a miserable mess all the time is ok. Cleaning up after them myself all the time is not only exhausting, it prevents them from taking responsibilty for their own actions. Walking around behind them telling them to "pick that up" and "put this away" is equally exhausting and causes me to sound like a nag.

Is it worth it though? Will constant suveilance and relentless reminders help them learn the routines or will they just begin to tune me out? Will writing things down and telling them to "Do their lists" have them become more accustomed to doing these things or is it just another way of coddling and babying them? Am I overestimating their maturity or underestimating their abilities? How much housework is fair to expect from them and how much should I worry about being fair?

Aside from that, I have DH and his messes to deal with.  How much should I ask DH to do and how on earth can I get HIM to do it? How can I expect my girls to do what they are asked if he won't? How do I fight the uphill battle of getting them to keep their mess picked up when he leaves a fair amount of mess himself? I try to let him have a space for his crafts because he actually makes money from them and he has orders he needs to fill. Unfortunately, his hobbies have a way of consuming the area and causing messes to grow. (FLYLady calls this a Hot Spot - an area that as soon as it becomes messy, encourages the rest of the room to become cluttered.) His craft area always becomes a collection ground for things that belong to him but the girls don't know what to do with them. Cleaning up this area feels a lot like I am cleaning up his messes for him. That doesn't seem right. Shouldn't he take care of his own area, at least to make a good example for the girls? Where do I draw the line between being a mother and being his wife? Is it reasonable to expect him to do things like take his own plate and bowl and put them in the dishwasher? Fold his clothes and/or put them in his dresser? Put leftovers inside a container with a lid instead of sticking the pot in the refigerator? I may not be perfect about always picking up everything, but I do clean up whatever I get out. I have to. No one else will touch it if they think it belings to me. (Apparently I am an Ogre when it comes to my things. I didn't know this. I didn't even realize I owned enough things to be an Ogre about.)

I guess I am feeling  little bitter and it shows. I am in charge of everything that has to do with the house, by default. I don't want to be in charge, though. I know I coudl handle it all if DH weren't there, but I don't feel that I SHOULD if he IS here. I am in charge of cooking and shopping - one goes with the other and I have to be in charge since DH doesn't get home early enough to cook.  I direct the cleaning and tidying, because, again, I am home in the evenings to do it and he just doesn't seem to see it until it gts really bad. Child care is also my sole responsibility. If he has a meeting or campout, he just goes. I can not even work late without telling him and the girls what to cook, remember to bathe,  and don't forget the homework. I am also in charge of all things financial. Budgets, bills, everything. It wears me out and I don't do it very well at all, but DH doesn't and won't do it.

How do I take care of the daily mess and clutter without pushing myself to exhaustion? How do I show my kids the proper balance between caring for your house and caring for your family? I want them to be independent, strong girls who are capable and well rounded, and I want them to see an equal union in their parents, where we share the responsibilities. Am I being too picky about all this? Should I be thankful I have a loving and kind husband and just deal with everything else? 

Am I totally off base here?

Debbie "Worn Out" Lollar

1 comment:

  1. Have you thought about looking up a summer camp for them? I know there was one year where mom managed to get me into one for a week through the church. Maybe something like that will give them the ability to have a routine, and the lessons they need to learn, you have time to work on the house and have it be clean, and maybe a little break for you and DH to sit down and work on things together they will help you out too.

    You may even be able to find camps that they can go to for a month or more.

    It is just a thought.

    Love you!