Monday, August 23, 2010

Changes, Frustrations, and Joys

Several people emailed me this week to ask if everything was ok because I hadn't posted in several weeks. I replied that yes, all is fine, just have been busy with a schedule change and some frustrations. Which got me to thinking about what, indeed, is going on in my life right now.

For one thing, my daughter has gone back to work as an elementary school counselor after being a stay-at-home mom for the last two years. Before she quit work, I had been the babysitter for the two grandsons for three years, so when she was home my 'job' was eliminated. I had thought I would go back to work, but jobs around in our area are scarce, and I'd been out of the work place for three years at that time. Besides, I didn't know what kind of job to look for as I have some 'brain quirks' that make my choices limited.

I began cleaning house once a week for her sister-in-law, and then later going every day twice a day to walk and play with her(the s-in-l) new dog, a high-energy min pin puppy, which turned into me being a working mom's assistant (doing a quick kitchen clean-up and house pick-up while letting the dog play, and then cleaning on Fridays). The rest of the time I just played happy homemaker in my own home, watched a lot of tv, worked in the yard, interacted with my dogs, and spent waaay more time than I should have here on the computer. Basically, I made my own schedule and didn't have to do a lot of accounting to anyone. And I make enough money each week to at least pay for my meds, or buy Eva Jean's special and outrageously expensive dog food every four weeks, or do something with one or both boys.

So, back to the present. Like many families these days, we're all suffering greatly from slow downs with work and being in financial distress. I won't go into all that here, but suffice it to say that we are all incredibly frustrated. When Melody decided she had to go back to work (kicking and sceaming the whole way), it also meant a specific schedule change for me. It goes something like this:

9:30-10:30 walk Max and clean kitchen (I take my Oliver with me so they can play)
10:30-12 clean daughter's house (kitchen, vacumn, laundry, or whatever needs to be done)
12-1:30 my house
1:30-2:15 walk Max and play with him
2:30 pick 4yr old Conner up from school and go to his house
3:15 Garrett gets home by bus
3:15 til 5-7:00ish sit the boys and cook dinner for them and enough to take home for us

The joy of this schedule change is that I get to see the boys every day, and get to interact more with my daughter and her family life at her house as opposed to the boys being dropped off/picked up from my house. She doesn't pay me a salary like before, but reimburses me in sooo many ways throughout the year/month/week/day, more than any daughter should have to do for her mom and dad who are still ambulatory (though becoming more decrepit every year!).

The other change that comes with this schedule change is that I will have to pick up some of the slack in some of my daughter's other obligations, such as in a business that she's involved in with her dad and husband, which is fine, except that I'm afraid I will screw up and disappoint them because of those 'brain quirks' I mentioned before. I'm not sure they actually realize how scrambled my brain is sometimes, though I've certainly told them about it often enough, and I sometimes wonder if they think that I just use that as an excuse to not do some things, or think that it ties into my irrational belief that I'm basically a screw-up. Be that as it may, it's not a huge effort to do what's basically secretarial work, just the frustration (and fear) that I'll screw up something important and disappoint them because of my huge inability to follow or remember directions.

Also, and this is something I don't know how she ever managed to do with the kids running around plus the time consuming business stuff, I have taken over one of her PTO duties of entering Coke product codes for school rewards. Seriously, bags of Coke bottle tops have to be entered on the computer, and it is the most boring and time-consuming task imagineable! Could Coca-Cola have made it more difficult to earn rewards?

Ok, all this sounds like a cake walk to those of you who have four kids, two jobs and an aging parent to take care of along with your own disabilities! But it's a change for me nonetheless, and we're still in the process of fine-tuning it. I'm having to redefine my priorities as far as just getting the basics in my own home done in a timely fashion, in addition to semi-running two other households...especially since, as you might recall from my previous post, I am the queen of procrastination. If you ask me to do something for you, I may happily and willingly say "sure, no problem!", only to forget about it for the next two weeks, so I'm having to remember that there are other people involved now.

But here's something that I realized this week that I guess could also be put in the joy column. While I was berating myself for only being capable of doing fluff work like housecleaning and babysitting (as opposed to, say, nursing or teaching) to bring in some money, I realized that I am contributing to the quality of life for two families with a mother who works outside the home, the absolute hardest job in the world. When my daughter and her sister-in-law get home from a day at school, they walk into a clean kitchen and a straightened up house, giving them time to spend with their kids and doing other important stuff, instead of walking in and being slapped in the face with all the crap that's left over from dinner last night and breakfast that morning (not to mention the mess that three indoor dogs and two cats can make in a twenty-four hour period!). And probably just as importantly, my daughter knows that when those two little boys get home from school, the person who greets them and makes their snack does it with love.

And I've realized that this is something I do well, being a working mom's assistant, whether it's cleaning up a kitchen or cleaning out the kitty box, throwing in a load of clothes or scrubbing a toilet. I used to have my own house cleaning service (which means that I cleaned a bunch of houses by myself), but let it fall by the wayside as it's by yourself on a regular basis, especially if you have a bad back. While my own house is far from being clean, uncluttered, or organized, I have a natural impulse to walk into their houses and head straight to the kitchen or straighten a couch. I also had a very lucrative petsitting service which I gave up when we moved here as I didn't have time because of the grandsons, so it's nice to do that again.

But here's the really nice part ... my 'brain quirks', my inability to focus on a particular task and see it to it's finish, or my inability to even understand the steps to do the task, don't matter! No boss is going to say to me again: "Linda, if we didn't love you so much, and if you hadn't worked so hard, we would have had to fire you a long time ago because of your memory problems". (Well, unless I forget to walk Max, or to pick Conner up from school, or be home when Garrett's bus gets there, or enter the reward codes, or check the email for new orders, or forget to enter those orders, or ... hmmm, maybe I better not get too cocky!).

So, to make this loooong explanation even longer, I'm still reading new posts on my blog list every day, but if I don't publish my own post it's because I'm not managing my time well in my new schedule!