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!


glnroz said...

your new occupation is a help to a lot of people involved. You are to be commended. You should be proud. They are lucky to have such an assistant..:)

Ginger said...

I think you are doing a lot with your time, and it sounds like it is really appreciated. When I was working, I would of loved to have had someone come in and clean my house for me, or walk my dogs, or pick the kids up from school. I would of loved someone to start dinner for me...geez, I would love all that now.

My Aimless Infatuation said...

Phew,I'm tired just from reading about all you do each day,I think your memory is better than you think. Give yourself a pat on the back,you still got it girl. Not to mention the people that are lucky enough to have you in their lives. Post when you can,I'll be here.

yaya said...

You are Wonder Woman to the people in your life. How lucky your daughter is to have her children's Grandmother to love and take care of them. As a working mom it would have been a dream come true for my kiddos to have have that for them! I had a string of horrible sitters that I still have guilt over and my youngest is 26! I wish I could do those things for my own Grandchildren now but I keep the insurance for us. I'm lucky that I have a job I love, but believe me I wish I could have been home full-time with my kids. So give yourself a huge hug, pat on the back and let your hubby kiss the most important person in the home! (that would be you!)

Bernie said...

You my friend are an amazing mother, grandmother, friend and wife. You are putting yourself out there to help others and I think that is wonderful. You have ease others burdens and all the while not complaining but loving and caring for your grandsons and everyone's pets. Good for you, not quirky at all but a heart full of love for others. I'm glad you are my blogging friend......:-) Hugs

Wine and Words said...

Hope you are taking vitamins my friend. Wow. Carry on. Carry on.

Jeanie said...

Your daily schedule sounds like it would wear me out, and I still go to a job everyday. You are providing wonderful services for people you care about, which is about as important a thing as anyone can do.

Michele R said...

I bet your daughter is the envy of every other gal at the school! You both are doing your best for your families. The boys are so lucky! Hang in there. You are doing a great job!

kobico said...

Actually, it seems as though you are managing your daily schedule very well. You just have a lot packed into it! I'm glad you're keeping busy and spending time with your grandsons.

MWebster said...

Definitely a big change, and some big adjustments coming up. Never think that what you do is "fluff" work. It sounds like you are all working together to keep things going, so know that you are doing great things. *Hugs*

Donna B said...

Your energy and production level are incredible! I pale in comparison. You are so lucky to see those two little boys every day. You are so good with animals and people. You have talents and you can make your own schedule.

Sorry I have been so behind in my visits. I think the cooler weather will return my least I hope it will. hugs to you

Deb Shucka said...

It's so nice to see you here again. Sounds like life is full and happy for you, even with the frustrations. Hoping you find ways to get here more often with this crazy new schedule.

Lorna said...

Sigh, I can relate to the brain quirks--age certainly doesn't help, nor does menopause. But I sure do love that you are making such a difference in the lives of those you love. Your work, means something to them and to you and I am happy you are able to do that. Even if it means less time writing your blog, for now. Hugs, my friend.

Anonymous said...

I am the receiver of great gifts bestowed by you and the level of appreciation you deserve cannot be fully expressed. Words have no meaning in the description of the help you provide us because it comes in many forms. We know Max is in loving hands while we cannot be there. We come home to a clean house which is blessing we wouldn't have without you, trust me. All of these things happen while we are away and I know we don't tell you enough how much we appreciate what you do. You enlighten our lives and WE LOVE YOU. Thanks doesn't even come close.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Sounds like you're a little busy. Funny how this Midlife Jobhunting works out sometimes. What a valuable position you have. So much help for not only these young mothers, but children, too. Offered by a grandmother who loves them.

I'm certain as time goes on, you'll get your schedule down. Get it organized the way it works best for you. I think you are a much better grandma than I might ever hope to be.

lakeviewer said...

Goodness, Linda, you are a lifesaver for those two working girls and their families. If you count all the people who benefit from your love and devotion, that's a lot of people. No wonder!

Jules said...

I was wondering what had happened to you, now I know. Sorry I just noticed Google ate my comment here. I came over to thank you for your lovely comment on my post about my Grandmother.

Sounds to me like you are well on your way with those boys. You hang in there and remember we are here for you.

Thank you my friend, your words meant a lot :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Jules said...

I thought you could use this as welcome back gift.

Something for you on my blog. :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

yaya said...

I just wanted to say thanks for your sweet comments on my's a difficult time for sure, but one made easier by the lovely people I've met here in blog land. Thanks again!

Rose said...

you are doing the most importat job by helping out your daughter and family. just think, hw difficult life would be for her f you weren't lending a hand. Paychecks are great, but the smiles, thank you's, and love you get back can't be beat. thanks for your comment on my blog re reflect. God Bless

Lorna said...

Just stopping by to say hi; hope you are taking time to enjoy the little things along with the big ones! Happy Equinox :)

Rose said...

thanks for your comment on my post re history of my house. i have done a post re the property as well as other related things. glad you enjoyed. hopethat things have slowed down for you. rose

Rose said...

back again just saw your other comment. i'm in rome ga. not far frome you. when i was working i would have to travel to ringold. maybe at some time the northga and tenn folks can get together. My e mais is you fel comfortable with droping a line every so often. have a good day, Ringold girl. rose

ethelmaepotter! said...

How did I miss this???!!!

I guess it's because I've been busy myself and have gone to part-time blogging.

I envy you. You have taken on a job that so many would consider a chore, a thankless and even demeaning task to some, and you've done it with gratitude. " 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." Oh, how right you are! Those little boys could be going to after school care, where the caregovers are simply overwhelmed and may not even know their children by names. They could be going home to empty houses, with only tvs or video games for company. Your grandsons will benefit immensely from your willingness to give your time to them.

And what I would have given for someone like you when my own children were young! For, as much as I looked forward to coming home to my children, I also dreaded the dirty dishes in the sink, the disarray from the morning rush to work and school, the unmade beds and piles of laundry.

You have inspired me; I always said that when I retired I would like to do some kind of volunteer work, but I didn't know just what. Now I know - I will be a mom's assistant.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Cheryl said...

Of course you do realise that you have taken on the most important jobs in the world? What could ever be more important than helping to raise the next generations and keeping we bloggers going by dropping in and leaving wonderful comments!

Oz Girl said...

Not managing time well.... hmmmm, that sounds like me this summer. I try to cram way too much into every day, esp my work days. There never seems to be enough hours in the day since I started working again. *sigh* Soooo frustrating!

It seems like we all have too much going on in our lives to sufficiently cram it all into one day some weeks. So then it overflows into the next day, and the next day, until we are so behind we don't think we'll ever get caught up!

I think winter might help me. :-\