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Posts Tagged ‘planning’

‎For once it’s not me. It’s not me who got the time wrong, left the house too late, stopped for tea when I shouldn’t have. We were on time, dare I say even a few minutes early, only to arrive and found out they’re behind schedule.

The games are late.

We now have 45 minutes to kill. My daughter goes off with her friends, I call hubby to tell him not to rush getting here, and now I find myself in a very unfamiliar situation. I have time on my hands and not the slightest idea what to do with it.

If I were at home I would fill the space with laundry or lunches or other chores I should be doing. If no one was around and I didn’t have to ‎pretend to be productive, I would lay down on the couch and watch a silly reality show I would never admit to loving. (My latest trashy addiction is Hockey Wives. So, so, so bad).

But I’m not at home so I can’t do any of those things. Instead I sit on a hard plastic seat, surrounded by people I either don’t know at all, or know only by face and which child they belong to.

I’m not used to having time. Not because I can’t find free time or make free time but rather because free time kind of scares me. I don’t know what to do with it, it makes me feel restless and fidgety and anxious.

I’m good at being busy and rushing and thinking about what comes next. Even when I’m not busy, I’m good at thinking about being busy.

I know what busy looks like.

Free time, on the other hand, makes me feel fidgety and anxious and uncertain. I don’t know how free time is supposed to look.

Well, that’s not exactly true. When I think of free time I know how it looks in my head. It looks like a cottage on a lake (and by cottage I mean basically a house with electricity and ‎running water and decorated by Sarah to within an inch of its life. Even if I do free time, I don’t do rustic). A cottage on a lake with wind rustling the trees, ducks lazily circling in the water, sun on my cheeks and a novel in my lap. That’s what free time looks like to me.

I think I can do that, but when I look up and that’s not what I see, I’m back at square one.

Only now I see that I only have five minutes to kill. It’s almost done! I’ve almost survived.

I’m almost back in my comfort zone – back on schedule.

(Sigh of relief)

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‎I planned to write tonight. I planned to sit down in front of my computer, a cup of steaming hot, sweet milky tea sitting on the desk beside me, and write.

I planned to finally try and write a submission for the short story contest that I entered last year and was hoping to enter again this year. I’ve had a few ideas floating around in my head for the last few days and I was planning to finally get something down on paper.

I should have known better.

It seems that whenever I plan to write, a dozen other things pop up and get in my way. It seems that whenever I plan to write, I actually fail to write anything at all.

Instead plans got changed and I ended up cuddling with my daughter on my bed, watching a movie we had already seen. We painted her nails and ate snacks and when we were done I put my arms around her and she tucked her head under my chin, her hair tickling my neck.

When the movie was finished I put her to bed and kissed her cheek, brushing her hair out of her face and inhaling the sweet scent of her. All too often these days I forget about these moments with her, I think she’s too old and I’m too busy and that we’re not in that place where we once were‎.

But then we have a night like this, a night where I was planning to do other things but instead spent the night curled up with a little girl who is not going to be little very much longer. And now, as the night draws to a close I haven’t written any part of a short story; I didn’t even turn on my computer.

I didn’t do anything at all that I planned.

And it was pretty great.

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For years when my kids were really little I felt like I would never get a break. Their needs seemed constant, unending, crucial; so much more important than anything else I could or should be doing.

Their needs were physical. Things I needed to do for them, get for them, make for them. Over and over it went. I honestly thought it would be like that forever. For me, early motherhood was about the short term, the immediate, filling what was empty, fixing what was broken, finding what was missing.

It was always a matter of “what now?” I would finish one thing and look around for the next. If I was lucky, I would have five minutes to try and anticipate, guess which ball was going to fall out of the air next. Of course there was never actually enough time to avoid it; but rather just enough time to see it coming.

But slowly, so slowly in fact that I didn’t notice at first, things started to change. The needs are now less physical and more emotional. Less skinned knees and more hurt feelings, less “play with me” and more “watch what I can do,” less cuddling and more getting out of the way.

Of course, they still need me and I hope, to a certain extent, they always will. But something has shifted and just as when they were babies and I wondered if I would ever adapt to the new normal, I am once again feeling lost, uncertain, unbalanced.

I have time for me, and I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t remember what I used to do, what I used to enjoy, what I used to dream about. I have forgotten how to imagine without being realistic; forgotten how to plan without being prudent. There are spaces in my life and I don’t know how to fill them, or even if I should.

And there are some decisions to be made that have nothing to do with them and everything to do with me; how I see myself, and where I see myself going in the future.

Only now I don’t know how to make them.

I don’t remember how to plan ahead further than the next moment or minute or inhale and exhale. I don’t remember how to look ahead further than the next ball coming at me. Everything has changed from “what now” to “now what?”

Now what am I going to do?

Now what do I want to do?

Now what am I going to be?

Now what?

And to be honest, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’m going to choose unwisely, make a bad decision, or, perhaps even worse, that fear will keep me from making any decision at all. I fear that I will accept the status quo as the best I can do, so unsure of myself that I will ignore the possibilities and instead be resigned to simply accept the realities.

There was no instruction manual for becoming a mother, and now I’m discovering that there’s also no map for finding my way back to the person I was, and no compass to lead me to the person I’m supposed to become.

I find myself just as lost as when my children were babies, only now it seems that I’m the one who needs to grow.

If only I can figure out how.

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The voices were soft at first, barely above a whisper. I had to concentrate to hear them and make out what they were saying.

“Come over here, look at me, I’m beautiful.”

What? Who is talking to me? I shake my head and move on.

Over the next few days they got louder though.

“Come look at me, you know you want to, you know you can’t resist. I will help keep you organized. I am a home for all of your brilliant thoughts. I will look amazing in your purse.”

It was then that it all slowly began to make sense. It is September, time for the annual call of the daily planner.

Every year I buy one, certain that this will be the year that I actually use it. I will write down all of my to-do’s in one handy place – no more random post-its junking up my purse. I will keep track of writing ideas, birthday lists, clothing sizes, doctor’s appointments, and library book due dates all in one stylish package.

And I do. I do all of that and more.

For about a week and a half.

Then I switch purses for some reason and decide it doesn’t fit in my new one. A week goes by and I don’t write anything in it. I have to make a dentist appointment and realize I left it at home. I write the info down on a post-it instead. And just like that, the spell has been broken and another planner sits, barely used, on my shelf. An unkept promise, another small failure on my road to becoming Martha.

You just know she uses a daily planner.

One year I decided to give up the dream and get with the times, in-putting things directly into an “app” on my phone. What a perfect solution (I thought at the time)! I will have everything at my fingertips. And yes, it did turn out to be very convenient and yes, it did help manage things but, to be honest, it wasn’t very much fun. I was all function and no form. Something was missing.

I didn’t get the thrill of pulling it out of my purse and running my hands across the smooth pages any time I had to write something in it.

I didn’t get the joy of spending an entire lunch hour picking out just the right pen to use with it. Smooth writing? Check! Not globby? Check! Doesn’t bleed through the pages? Check! Hmmm, should I go with blue or black ink? These are important decisions people.

Okay, maybe just to me but whatever.

Going digital was a practical choice but one that left me feeling hollow. Organizing wasn’t fun anymore.

So now I’m back at square one. Every time I walk past the stationary store the planners continue to call to me and I continue to try and ignore them. But I’m not that strong and I’m not sure how much longer I can resist.

Hey wait a minute, look at that pretty one in the window – it has a purple cover! I love purple!

Maybe I’ll just pop in and take a peek. It doesn’t hurt to look, right?

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