The guilt of Saturday
This time last week I was deep in the middle of the last day of the 54th Annual RRCA National Convention right here in our fair city. Deej, G and I probably put in 12-14 hours a day on our feet – excepting the meals, when we sat down – I’m certainly not one for missing a meal – from Thursday through Sunday, and I then spent all day Sunday cleaning house and doing laundry. This last week it was work and convention clean-up but not bad, a lot more relaxing on the downside. The past month or so was pretty intense, however. Planning, phone calls, telcons, hundreds of emails, constantly wondering if there was something we were missing; I know I felt that Deej and G were picking up more of the work than I was and I worried I wasn’t doing enough. It was a microcosm of what it would be like to squeeze into three months being pregnant with the twins, giving birth and having them grow up; waking in the middle of the night, wondering if we were doing enough for our baby, would it ever learn to walk and go to school and graduate? And, by the way, if you’re a member of an RRCA member club and would like to see what the convention is all about you can see some pics, here: http://mrtc.zenfolio.com/p967467376 We had 12 break-out sessions (4 were CE’s) along with speakers and an Expo featuring all things running for the attendees.
In the meantime I’ve also been thinking about goals, being realistic about goals and life in general. How do I want to do this, this next part of my life? I feel this is a time in my life to look at what I’m doing, consider things, and try to live a bit more purposefullly. Of course there will always be life circumstances that dictate at least part of every day, but Dog and Cat are definitely a lot less time demanding than children. The convention is over and I can take a breath; maybe it’s time to reassess how I do some things. Additionally, the other day I was reminiscing with a friend, comparing the life I had growing up to the life I spent with my kids growing up.
My childhood Saturdays were cartoons for three hours (because cartoons were only on from 7-10am) followed by 8-10 hours running from one end of the neighborhood to the other with about 21 other kids from the block. We always knew when to show up in the kitchen for a sandwich, and anyone who fell and scraped a knee hit the nearest house for a bandaid; moms were pretty interchangeable as far as bandaid application. If we could beg a nickel off our moms we’d walk to the convenience store and buy candy. I have no idea what my mother did all those hours. I know she did not spend it in the only car they owned driving my brother and me to soccer and scouts and cheer and choir and then the store because we have to have a navy blue t-shirt for school Monday and make 87 dozen cookies for Student Feel Good Day. You were kind of expected to feel good on your own and you had two dresses. You wore one Monday and Tuesday, the other one Wednesday/Thursday and then back into the Monday dress on Friday. You could switch it up next week tho, and do the Wed/Thurs dress on Mon/Tues if you wanted, mom was doing laundry once during the week and once on the weekend and that’s when the clothes would rotate back through.
When my kids were all little Saturday mornings were usually some combination of Joy! Weekend! Dread! Weekend! I spent 29 years with one to four children in my home, a husband who traveled frequently and far and a series of part-time jobs which I always liked because I got extra money but had part-time freedom to try to keep up with the work of four kids and all the school, sports, scouts (altho hubs gets a shout out for being The Scout Dad), cheer, etc. Saturday mornings dawned with me surrounded by piles of laundry, a to-do list, a grocery list and marching orders for four kids on what part of the Saturday cleaning they were responsible for squeezed in along side the sports, scouts, cheer, homework, yardwork, birthday extravaganzas, etc. And in no way were the kids going to be allowed to roam a mile in each direction of home with all the stuff in the news about killers and kidnappers and students shooting each other.
Different world, huh? And what are you moms of the current generation with kids doing this morning? I know. Sleeping in. Make some coffee and read the paper, throw a load of non-essentials in the washer. Your children are watching an innocuous bird outwit a coyote and everything on TV is carefully screened for sex and bad language so you can make a quick trip to the laundry room and fold some clothes without your three year old learning the F word.
No! Every year there is more and more for our kids to do and be. You ladies are making my life with four kids look like slacker work. And what of the world of my parents, and my grandparents? Has the world ever changed so much so fast? Or has every generation believed the same?
Since I tend to write for a while and then go do something else so the words can set and ruminate in the back of my mind, I’ve been coming back and forth to my desk for hours today. There has been a man on the lake for the past three or four hours, on his pontoon boat, wearing a straw hat and fishing. That’s all he’s doing. And most of the time he isn’t even holding the fishing rod because he has it stuck in a holder on the side of the boat. He’s not reading a book or talking on phone. He’s just sitting there drifting.
The year the twins went off to college I spent 6-7 months sleeping every morning until 7:30 or 8am. Not on purpose, I just slept like a baby and didn’t wake up. Hubs would leave and I’d snooze with the dog; I think I was catching up from the past three decades. Now I’m back to waking early most of the time but I go straight downstairs to the computer – a habit I picked up once the kids were gone and the hubs would be in the bedroom/bathroom/kitchen trying to get ready for work and I was always standing the next place he needed to step. Suddenly now on Saturday mornings the house was empty, hubs would go work out and run errands, I might run on Saturday or wait until Sunday, or go work a Saturday race if I weren’t running; the house wasn’t a whole lot dirtier than it was Wednesday and besides, I could clean any day I wanted, laundry was easy to keep up with through the week and nearly 30 years of Saturday family/kid busy-ness were *poof*.
I got lazy. I putzed. I did the crossword puzzle and putzed and put stuff off until tomorrow because I could. It was nice for a while but I needed something – and exactly then came the job with MRTC. Now I got up every morning and checked work email. And on Saturday, and on Sunday. And five years later it’s a deeply ingrained habit, not a bad habit, but a habit that keeps me from having a day that I do not focus on work first thing in the morning. And I think that’s not a healthy thing.
When the kids were little if it were a beautiful day like today and we had a couple hours we might have ended up at the Farms on the playground. If it were bad weather we might have done Star Wars Trilogy weekend. I would sit on the couch with them, eating popcorn and watching a movie. Despite those years being so busy, I think I sat down and did something specficially for enjoyment more than I do now. Now I FB and check email and go get more coffee. And this is what I want to examine. This is what I want to consider. I suspect I’m doing it because I’m afraid. I’m afraid to do something purely for enjoyment. If I’m working it’s enjoyable (because I love my job) but it’s Work – it’s a function, a purpose. If I take this Saturday afternoon and read a novel for four hours I will feel incredibly guilty – particularly when hubs comes home since he’s been doing yard work and boy scouts all day long (of his own chosing, why do I make myself guilty when he doesn’t?). I will not have produced anything. I will not have been busy. I haven’t been kid-busy on weekends for years, but I’ve substituted work busy and busy-ness busy and never even realized it.
Secondly, I’m losing focus. I’m not ADD, but I’m living an ADD life. The computer is on all day long. If I had been on that pontoon boat for three or four hours like that guy, well, first – I wouldn’t have. I would never have lasted four hours. I wouldn’t have lasted one hour. I’d have paced and fished and fixed the seats and went to the dock for a drink and had my phone with me and checked the internet and decided my toes needed painting and …
So what I’m going to do, and I’m announcing it publicly, is when I’m done writing I’m turning off the computer. My oldest son just called, I’m going over to see his new flooring and the paint they picked out for the den and what they’re doing in the back yard. Then I’m coming home, I’m turning off my cell phone and I’m getting my novel and I’m going to sit and read. And 20 minutes later when a little naggle comes in the back of my head that I should at least go put away the laundry, then I can come back and read my book: I will not. The laundry is fine and will end up getting put away in it’s own good time. The touch-up painting around the house that has been waiting for four weeks got done this morning, I have dinner ready to cook, and we’re all dry, clothed and healthy. And there are no diapers to change.