When I first picked this post title, it was going to be a post about our new car. In December, our old car decided to need repairs worth the equivalent of its blue book value. Since we had already spent more than that on repairs earlier in the year, and the car had 190,000 miles on it, we decided it was time to call it a day. The tale of how we came to purchase a cute! new! blue! Honda Fit became less enjoyable, though, when a week later someone who owes me a decent chunk of money emailed out of the blue and told me he was declaring bankruptcy.
When one gets complacent about the behavior of others, it does tend to bite one in the ass.
So the post celebrating the new car was scrapped, partly because the bloom was off the rose and partly because I know too many people who are like “Well if the car is that spacious, can I come live in it when my family doesn’t have a home anymore BECAUSE WE ARE POOR AND THE ECONOMY SUCKS.” And while losing another $6000 to a bad relationship that has been over for years is highly vexing, the sacrifices we will be making to compensate for that hole in our budget are more like a conference C-Man wanted to attend and any furniture for the next year or two, rather than health care or heating our home.
The title, though, This Year’s Girl, applies equally well to another post that had been percolating which is this one: who the fuck am I now and how do I get back to being a person that I like being?
I’m not sure how I worked 60 hours a week at two different jobs in the fall of 2008 while I had a one year old who wasn’t sleeping through the night. Did that really happen? Oh right, see: new car, money for, not from lottery winnings. (We use the lottery money for something else.)
But who was that woman who could manage those two schedules, dress up in suits a few days a week, do extensive public speaking in a professional environment, parent 3-4 hours a day and get up several times at night? Was that me? Really?
My working hours are now capped at 35 per week, and I have another adult in the house who is paid to take care of the child for about 48 hours a week. Let’s say that 4 of those 48 hours he’s actually hanging out with me, and 2 of those hours I’m showering since I often haven’t done that by the time she gets here, but that still leaves a gap of 7 hours.
I know how much I could get done at work in 7 hours. A ton. I dream big dreams of the day when I may be allowed to work an extra 7 hours some week because there is a project that just needs doing. I look at the to-do list for my life for one week and surely in 7 hours, I should be able to knock off a massive amount of stuff.
The truth is, I don’t really want to. I don’t care anymore.
I remember when I liked to-do lists. Now I gaze at them with a mix of dull hatred and resignation. The resignation is because I will inevitably do those things since there is no way to permanently escape, but I will not do them so quickly that they will get off the list any time before next month. Or the next. Or possibly next year. I’m annoyed that those things aren’t done yet, but it gives me almost no satisfaction to cross them off, so I avoid them.
Who is that person?
Our guest room and half our garage are immobilized by stuff I’m supposed to be turning into money on Craigslist, as a way to help someone else. It arrived in July. Of 2008. I have gotten rid of probably a couple hundred cubic feet of it and made her some much-needed cash, and yet there’s always more STUFF and my fantasies about a helicopter crashing in our back yard revolve around figuring out how to make the crash destroy the guest room and garage simultaneously without harming the kitchen, which is between them. Then again, the kitchen could use some rearranging. How long is the typical helicopter anyway?
My sewing machine has not been set up properly on its table since March of 2009, though I have used it once on the kitchen table. My sewing room is full of bags of outgrown kid clothes I need to hand down to two women I know who have younger boy babies, but I can’t seem to get that organized.
The dog’s nails aren’t being trimmed, the backyard has piles of weeds that need to be sacked up, and there are new ones growing. I can’t even manage to email someone back about taking away the godforsaken hot tub whose only purpose is to collect filthy water. I’ve had an energy audit on the house that produced a list of next steps, none of which I’ve given any thought to since the guy was here four months ago. Except when they emailed me a followup and I was like “oh leave me the hell alone.” (In my head, not in an email.)
I have a pretty wool sweater that I needed to take to the dry cleaner in March of 2009 that has never gone.
I’m pretty sure I should have paid estimated taxes in 2009 and I’m going to get hit with a penalty, but the CPA who did our taxes last year has pissed me off at least twice since then so I just didn’t bother to deal with it.
Who? The fuck? Am I?
I think my ability to blame the kid is coming to an end. I am no longer holding the baby most of the day and haven’t been since August of 2008, so I really could pick up my own dirty socks and put them in the laundry basket rather than walk by them FIFTY MORE TIMES. I have more time than any of the working parents I know, more money too, money that I use to pay people a higher hourly rate than I make so they can clean the bathrooms and mow the lawn so that I have more time.
(Side note: I have only ever mowed a lawn once in my life. Our front lawn, which is a hill, with the push-mower C-Man bought because he was supposed to mow the lawn. Which is a hill, and he has a bad knee. After I did it once, we started to pay people to mow the lawn. The time I save by doing this is the time spent arguing with C-Man about what we’re going to do about the lawn so the neighbors don’t call the city on us, which is why I was particularly aggrieved when I hired a lawn company and then had to argue with them regularly about when they were supposed to show up.)
We had a lot of crap to deal with in 2009 that we did not have in 2008, which is to be expected when a high-needs young adult moves into your house for half the year and spends the other half needing assistance from your child care provider because now she’s living over there. The schedule disruptions seemed endless, the drama was often times overwhelming, and countless hours went to discussion, planning, reacting, and talking to professionals about how best to manage things. C-Man had multiple health episodes which limited his parenting participation for several days each time and required multiple physical therapy appointments. The (only) car (we own) broke down twice. Our washer broke down. My relaxing family trip to Colorado to visit my sister sent all of us home with colds. My relaxing trip to BlogHer ended up with me riding with a friend in a cab to the hospital. My relaxing weekend getaway with C-Man was prefaced by cutting my foot open in the shower so badly that I couldn’t put weight on it for several weeks.
Added up, though, I still feel like it isn’t enough of an explanation, like I’ve just become a different person since we moved into this house. A person who does the minimum usually, with spurts of manic activity when the stress is unbearable – activity never sufficient to solve underlying problems.
I am convinced that many of the physical clutter issues in my home could be managed more successfully if we owned more than three laundry baskets. Laundry baskets are wonderful for turning chaos into order, but we only have three, and often one of them is being used as a sleigh, basket under a hot air balloon (don’t try this at home, many children are too heavy to carry around in laundry baskets, you might pull something, not that I would know), garbage truck, or ladder. And then one of them is invariably full of clean clothes that god forbid someone take 2 minutes to put away, because I am my own worst enemy.
Somehow, though, I doubt extra laundry baskets will make up for my general lack of giving a damn anymore. You want someone to care, make a plan, and get up on it?
You need to talk to last year’s girl.
I’ll tell you who you are…you’re ME.
I just tried to leave a comment and it was rejected because that’s just the kind of motherloving day I’m having and it’s only 9:29 in the gd a.m.
What I was going to say in my comment, which is now sure to appear directly above this one rendering this one utterly and completely useless, is that I know who you are…as you ask so poignantly and urgently in this post, you are ME.
Welcome. I’m hoping that with two of us, it will be easier to manage. Whatever “it” is.
I love this post because I feel much of it so acutely. I still kind of love lists but I’m looking at mine with the same kind of resignation. I am not sure if it’s seasonal or what, but I just don’t want to do this stuff. It’s not hard stuff, but right now, it seems hard.
You know, reading this, one thing kept echoing through my mind: depression. Feeling like you can’t keep up the way you used to? Sign of depression? No caring about things, or not caring enough to fix them even though they bother you? Depression. Not knowing where your time is going because you can’t see any result from it? Depression.
Don’t publish this comment if you don’t want to, but have you thought about seeing someone? I know that sounds like just one more thing to have to deal with, and it is, but ultimately, it can be the thing that helps to put everything else back on track.
First of all, congrats on the Honda Fit. You’re going to love her more than you ever thought possible.
Second, last year’s girl is still around. You just gotta find her.
Here’s to a better 2010, Skye!
You know, some people might call these growing pains. Now that you’ve discovered that you’re not who you thought you were, you might think about who you want to be. You may be surprised at all of the parts of yourself you’re willing to transform, and all of the parts it’s ok to give up (or encourage to grow).
Or, you might just need some iron. ;-)
Have I told you how much you rock? You and your blog? because you totally do.
Apart from the details, and my lack of actual writing talent, I could have written this post.
Maybe it’s a “I have a two year old and now I’m just too freaking tired to do anything but breathe” thing?
For myself, I’ve been thinking along MizJen’s lines, in her comment above. You know that Zen thing about not being able to learn if your cup is already full? My cup is getting empty. The things (demons?) that used to drive me to action don’t anymore, because I have been forced to learn acceptance instead.
I figure it’s a good thing my cup is empty, so something new can fill it up. Just waiting and looking…
If it’s the same for you, i hope you find something wonderful to fill your cup up soon.
I feel moved to agree with Grace. As someone who has been in a shoving fight with depression my whole life, what you talk about sounds like depression to me. I also encourage you not to publish this comment if you don’t feel like it, but you might consider seeing someone… And if you’d like a recommendation, email me and I can give you the name of a really insightful, intelligent and caring someone.
I could have written at least half of this. Just a couple of days ago I was thinking about how I used to be so organized and able to actually complete tasks. And care. Now, it’s toys strewn everywhere, bits of cereal all over the carpet, dishes in the sink, and laundry calling my name. None of which I really want to do anything about. I know I should, but I just can’t work up the energy.
And not working up the energy has contributed to my weight gain. Vicious cycle, no?
Ok – so I am not helping by not responding to your email about the clothes. I will take them ALL from you. I can either come down to South Austin and I can take you to lunch – just because ;-). Or if you want to drag all of that and your butt to Marguerites, that’s fine too.
My choice – take the first option cause then it will get us both out of the house and will get another thing off of my to-do list. [ I need to go to Austin Baby too :-) ]
Pardon my butting in, but since you put it out there on the internet for all the world to comment…
Do NOT start seeing a therapist. You don’t need one more appointment to keep. Try a little self-care first. Think of it as homeopathic healing for this funk you’re in.
The problem is that you’re putting everyone in the world ahead of yourself. Your needs matter. You need to simplify your life, and this starts with saying “no” to people. Even if it starts with those people you were going to hand the clothes down to — tell to come and get the clothes, as-is where-is, or you’ll haul them to Goodwill next week.
Proceed in like fashion with every other thing in your house that is a chore you’re doing for someone else. Your Craigslist beneficiary, other people with issues — all of them have to take a damn number, and that number comes AFTER the number 1. People who work for/with you need to carry their own loads, by the way.
Oxygen mask, remember?