Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me. Really.

Social Sabbatical
Volunteering Vacation
A Trip Down the river "No"
Boundary Bonanza!

There comes a time in every woman's life, where she comes *this* close to going bat shit crazy. *This* close. Where if she has to peel one more hard boiled egg or needs to use the baby wipes one more time on the cat, then it's, poof! She's lost it.
Luckily, I'm not too opposed to my daily hard boiled egg peeling, because hey, as long as the kid eats it! And, while I do have empathy for Hector, the long-haired Persian cat's unfortunate "fecal faux pas", there's always something amusing about having to use a baby wipe on your cat.

What IS the bane of my existence is the fact that there aren't 48 hours in a day. That I don't have enough time to get everything that I need to get done during the week done. It's completely frustrating. It would be one thing if I was getting the volunteering, errands, housework, parenting and cooking that I NEEDED to get done, finished, but I'm not. The fact is, I'm struggling to find enough time to get the non-negotiables in during the week, and that doesn't even include the projects that I "want" to do and the "Me Time" that all of us sometimes need.

I've come to realize two things:
1.) Being a stay-at-home mother and housewife, running a household IS a full time job!
2.) If you're trying to stuff a full time job into the abbreviated work hours of 8:00am - 2:45pm, while they're in school, then there's not time for fluff! Good Luck.

This is why I've decided to try an experiment..... After this week, just for a while, I'm going to go on a social sabbatical. I'm not going to make any social commitments during week days, unless for emergency of course. A friend in need, somebody in from out of town, whom you made plans with *Ilya*, a while ago. I'm going to start saying : N-n-nnn-n-Noooooooooo to taking on ANY MORE volunteer projects this year. Here's the clincher though:
I'm not going to feel Guilty doing it! (Ok, maybe a little.)

Oh my God people, the guilt! The guilt! I always feel SO badly declining friend's lovely invitations to coffee or lunch or walking or playdates. So guilty. I don't want them to think that I don't love them, or that I don't want to spend time together. My friends are great and I'd hate for them to think it's anything personal. It's not them, it's me.

Alas some friends take my rain checks very well, and some, not-so-well. But what can you do?
You're probably thinking that I am way over-worrying this whole problem, but what you might not know about me, is that unlike the rest of my WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE when I had like a measly five friends at a time, now I have 567, 897, 345 friends because I am...........THE OFFICIAL SCHOOL WELCOME WAGON! That's right, you can just go ahead and call me Vice President Lauren..... Vice President of Lower School New Families Lauren....AKA....The Welcome Lady. Yes, it might just be volunteer work, and sure it is only the PTA, but for two years now, I've been meeting hundreds of parents, including those I met the first year on my own, and from Noah's old school and from places other than school. And now to say the least, it has snowballed, and I have this great big glacier sized, lucky, beautiful chunk or friend ice that is way bigger than I could have ever imagined. I'm so amazingly grateful and appreciative and in awe of my super awesome, mega-caring friends. I just hate disappointing them. I hate saying "No". Each week, I do have to say "no" multiple times. It's really hard.

Which leads me to my second category of pressure/worry.......volunteer work!
Ok, let's get this straight:
A.) I really, truly LOVE my volunteer work at the school. I love giving back, it's work with a purpose and it can be great fun.
B.) It's not just "silly PTA games".... I do real WORK. I spend hours each week "working" on top of my "full time housewife/Mom" gig. It's work.

Currently, the following is the volunteer work that I am doing. Keep in mind, for most of the "jobs" below, they each take online administrative work, spreadsheets, lists, budgets, emails, phone calls. I advertise, make write-ups for the online newsletters, print and hang posters around campus, send out constant reminders. I attend meetings, shop and prepare food for events and handle clean-up. It's work!
  1. I'm a vice president on the executive board -lower school new families.- meetings.
  2. I welcome, I give tours, I am hosting a dinner for roughly 45 new families.....that's about 90 people! I'm also going to be holding evening "coffees" so the new parents have additional opportunities to meet-and- greet.
  3. I facilitate the school's parenting group. We meet, I feed, I lead, we chat, we listen, we share parenting stories. It's a lot of work time-wise, but my pride and joy and I love it!
  4. I co-chair of a resource library for parents. It's in the second year. Pretty awesome collection
  5. I'm co-organizing our classroom potluck.
  6. I'm organizing and hosting coffees for the new parents in our particular classroom.
  7. I'm part of the networking group, who are trying to get a directory off the ground.
  8. I'm occasionally a school photographer and often our class photographer.

Believe it or not, this list is SMALLER than it was last year.
Ok, enough said. You get the picture. I'm busy.

The thing is......wait for it...........the thing is, all of the things at home that I NEED to get done, I LOVE doing! Do you hear me world!? I LOVE being a housewife!!!!! At least for right now, I feel very content. I enjoy it. Nothing makes me happier than getting things done! Checking errands off the list! I like having a neat and tidy home. I enjoy vacuuming and ironing, and having clean clothes in the drawers. I look forward to cooking dinner, to improving on my kitchenly skills.

I just wish that I had enough time to get everything done. Nothing would make me happier than an empty week on the refrigerator calendar. I'd clean and organize and cook and bake and smile!
I'd finally get around to projects and goals, like MAKING holiday gifts this year to save on money, or writing in this blog more often, or sewing a Halloween costume this year. And I would possibly, actually, perhaps, even get in a walk once in a while. (Because believe me, when you're up at 7:00am and standing, moving, go-go-going ALL DAY LONG until the kid is in bed at 8:00pm, you really don't feel like exercising then. I just need to find the time for all of this.

So, please pardon me if I can't take you up on the coffee for a little bit. Or...if I'm not able to volunteer at the back-to-school picnic in three weeks. It's not personal when I don't answer your calls during the day when I'm in the middle of something, or I haven't texted back or replied that email yet. I will, and I DO CARE! It's not you.... It's me.....

Part 2. The more interesting or at least more visual part:
(Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisclaimer! Ok, I am NOT complaining about the renovation work, I'm THANKFUL for the the renovation work . My house is much warmer, functional and pleasant now. It was our choice to do the work, so of course I can't complain. What I'm kvetching about is the totally unexpected, and unnecessary amount of time it took. And..maybe a little about some of the guys who didn't always show up to keep the projects going and the messes they left. Many a night Jon and I spent cleaning up somebody else's plaster dust, electrical wire scraps or pop bottles and fast food wrappers. Boo It was just way more stressful than I had anticipated. Am I glad we did it? Yes, definitely! Would I do it again? NO. Well, maybe. If we weren't living in the house at the time.)

I think the beginning of my super stress all started about six months ago. We began a home renovation that was supposed to be quick and small. As you all know, it never happens that way, and yada yada yada, six months later we are juuuuuust finishing. I had five months of men in our house nearly every day, and on top of that, a summer where Noah refused to go to camp, and instead stayed home with me. It was intense, and did not include much "me" time for half a year.

Oh my gosh, listen we had crews, TONS of men in our house every day. 8:30am, they'd come in. My house is so tiny, I had nowhere to go. It wasn't one or two rooms at a time, it was most of them, most of the time. So I'd just kind of sit there, totally awkward, in whichever room was not as badly torn apart, or had a chair, and pretend to keep busy on my computer. They'd stop and see what I was reading, or be next to me for the phone calls, or watch me eat my lunch. A lot of the time, it would be so loud and so dusty and nasty, that I'd literally have to sit outside in the backyard all day. Have you ever tried to read a computer screen in the sunlight, or eat your lunch outside on a freezing day?

I was miserable, and resented the fact that I was the only one who could be home to hold down the fort, chained to our house for MONTHS. Nothing got done. And the project went on and on. We found out about more and more things that were wrong and needed to be addressed. And projects were flubbed and needed to be done-over, and leaks happened, and deadlines came and went many times. Spring turned into summer and summer into fall. At the height of it all, for a good six- eight weeks, we lived out of two rooms at a time.

First there was that time when my kitchen looked like this:
And stayed looking like this more or less for oh....six weeks. And we had to eat out or eat easy to prepare junk, and I was stressed out and emotionally ate and gained 15 pounds. Oh, that was fun.
And then....then, I loved it how my living room, our main room of the house, had insulation falling out of the GIANT HOLE IN THE CEILING and was wrapped up like freakin' Elliott's house in E.T. like this:
Try using your ONLY bathroom when it has some damn step ladder in the middle of it, and painters and construction men who REALLY slowly sometimes and party in your ONLY bathroom for a couple WEEKS. Just try it, I dare you.

Oh, but the best....THE very best....the most fun was to have nowhere to go to get a minute of privacy, not even your bedroom because since several crews had to come in...drill holes, fill with insulation, plug holes, plaster, sand, plaster, sand, patch, paint, repaint, repaint....FOREVER....because your wonderful bedroom retreat ending up like this. FOR A LONG TIME!
And here I am, nearly at the finish, the day our new "bar" went in....which is highly ironic, because after all of the above that went on, I still don't really drink, but boy I should!


Judy said...

Where I am right now is by FAR the hardest job I've ever had. I have considered (and still am) full time work just so I can slow down! So, I totally GET this post! Sing it, sister!

Kellie Bagne said...

Here's what I'm thinking. Screw coffee and lunch. Yes, it is lovely, lovely to go out and have fun with the girls. Truly wonderful. But then there are all those other things that don't get done because I'm lunching. I think we need to go back to olden days and get together as women to accomplish a task. Like a quilting bee. But a modern quilting bee. Like some of us go to a house and work together to make a big dinner and then split it up and take it home for our families. Or we could each find a project that we need help with and we pitch in and do it. Like organizing photos, or cleaning out a closet, or the garage, or weeding the yard, or whatever. This way we could socialize and accomplish more than we could have done alone.

Jen said...

I TOTALLY get it Lauren! And, I love Kellie's idea! Can we have a clean my bathroom bee? Oh wait - my house is in such a state because of all of my volunteer work that I won't even let anyone in the front door, let alone the bathroom! LOL Miss you Lauren. Deep breaths. One minute at a time. Do the things you love. And - just say NO!

Kendra Lynn said...

Yikes! You do need to take some time off and regroup...can I join you? I love you so much..and I am sure your renovated house is gorgeous. :)