Thursday, August 21, 2008

Making it work

I wake up each morning to a to do list that looks like a copy of War and Peace, written long and narrow on a 4x9” pad.

Naturally, I go to bed each night keenly aware that I did not get through “enough” of my list. I spend a lot of time reassuring myself that hey – it is what it is.

You can do what you can do. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll all still be there tomorrow.

And the next day, and the next day, and the next day…

I frequently find myself overwhelmed, in spite of my good intentions to let it be and go with the flow. I find myself angry about my own inability to keep my house clean, my car sparkling, my files organized, my kids neat and tidy (ha! yeah, that right there would probably take three full-time nannies…), my stock portfolio balanced (and makin’ money wouldn’t suck, either) and so forth and so on and on and on.

I’m not a Perfectionist (lord knows), but I do have Standards and I am not happy when I do not keep at least within spitting distance of them.

And I’m not. I’m not at all. I’m going through my days lately feeling as though, every minute of the day, I’m choosing which fingers I’m going to cut off.

It’s not a very fun way to live, you know? And I’m getting preeeeeety stressed out and upset about it. I keep trying to be at peace with It All, and failing, and then getting upset because I’m not able to not be upset, because I can’t find my hakuna matata, because I’m supposed to be more zen than this…ARGH! Why can’t I just Do It All?!

The DailyOm smacked me upside the head today with some observations in Life As It Is: Making Life Work For You : Like the president of a large organization, we must first realize that we cannot do every job ourselves. The first step to sanity is learning how to delegate some of the responsibility to other people, whether by paying someone to clean our house or trading childcare duties with another parent.

Now, there’s nothing here I haven’t read before. Shoot, there’s nothing here I haven’t preached before.

It’s just that, somehow, I don’t expect them to apply to me.

I have some weird notion that I am better, stronger, faster. I’m Fantasy Super Mom, ta-dun-DAH! Watch as I effortlessly go through my day, cape streaming in the breeze! I make it look easy, don’t I?!

Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m the first to tell anybody else that they need to go easy on themselves, and delegate, get themselves some help, for Pete’s sake!

You can only do what you can do (I tell everybody else). And if you can’t do it, but it needs to be done…you either need to let something else go, or you need help (I go on, wisely).

You need to delegate (I enunciate clearly, possibly tapping a finger meaningfully on the table with each syllable: del{tap}-uh{tap}-gate{tap}).

But for me? Ooooooooh no. Impossible. Quite out of the question. I can totally handle it. I just need to try harder.

Sigh. I really am not that bright, you know?

There is simply no way I can handle all the things I think I can handle. I’d need two, possibly three of me to take care of all the various things I have on my plate.

I need to del{tap}-uh{tap}-gate{tap}.

I’ve been thinking about hiring a maid service for a while now. Whenever I find myself thinking that I need to do something about All This, that’s the one thing that jumps out at me as being the thing that would give me the most bang for my buck. If I could scratch sanitizing three bathrooms, vacuuming five bedrooms, three common areas and a flight of stairs, then washing the five bedrooms floors AND two of those three common areas, and keeping the surface dust under control off my list…well.

I think I might just have a prayer with all that other stuff.

Of course, every time I start thinking about maybe actually picking up the phone and calling around for some quotes, Fantasy Super Mom yells, “NO! We can handle it! You’re being reckless and stupid! Waste of money! If you weren’t so lazy, we could get it all done! LESS BITCHING, MORE DOING!” And she bullies me into taking my hand away from the phone.

So I take one for the team and keep on trying and things fall to the floor and smash into a million pieces but, undaunted!, I keep trying and trying and trying…and failing, and failing, and failing…and getting more and more and more stressed out…more and more and more unhappy…less and less and less at peace with my life…

I keep thinking that something’s gotta give, but refusing to recognize that what has to give is me.

I’ve taken on too damned much, and it is up to me to let some stuff go.

Funny how sometimes, a random email from a service I can’t even remember signing up for will hit you right in the gut and make you sit down and focus on your breathing for a minute.

I’ve got to give up something. I’ve gone over my impossible list a dozen times, arguing with myself about the pros and cons of various options. Fantasy Super Mom keeps insisting that we can do it all! while Dark Me is half-hoping we just go to bed tonight and never wake up because this is hopeless…logic says giving up the fruits of a measly two hours of work each week to a maid service surely trumps giving up ten hours of billable time to clean it ourselves…emotion says that a good wife and mother could so totally make this work, somehow, without having to give up anything

…but obviously, I can’t make it work and can’t do Everything myself, this is why we’re having this conversation with ourselves, and by the way it is getting creepy the way we’re calling ourselves ‘we’…

From the article again: Accepting the adjustments needed to make our lives work is an essential ingredient to being at peace with our situation.

Hello, is that a Clue Gun you’re holding? :POW!: Right in the kisser!

I don’t have to like it…but I do have to do it. I have to make adjustments, adjustments that will let me feel at peace with the life I’m living. If I don’t…I suspect I’m going to be on the news one of these nights. “Crazy woman runs into oncoming traffic stark-nekkid and screaming, ‘So…much…DUSTING!!!!!!’, film at eleven!”

Once I get over myself and make the adjustment, things will be better.

I just have to let go. Accept that I am not Fantasy Super Mom, and I can’t do Everything.

…admit that I need help…

paid help…

…to take care of some of the most basic aspects of running a household…


Right. OK. This is me, getting over myself so that I can get back to being myself. I don’t like giving up my delusions of super-hero-ness, but hey. I also don’t like being a stressed out bundle of Crazy.

It’s time to start calling for house cleaning quotes, delegate that vast and unpleasant time-sink off my plate and see if it doesn’t give me some sanity back.

…I wonder if they could start, you know, tonight


Gina J said...

Go for it. I have someone come every other week to clean my house. She doesn't clean like I do, but I've learned NO one does it like I do it except my mom. :-)
It gives me sanity to have someone clean for me. It will give you sanity, too.
Thanks for your blog!

Misstea said...

AMEN, sister.

I live alone, have one bathroom and two bedrooms. I've hired out my cleaning as well, and it's a huge relief to let it go and concentrate on the stuff that is important to me.

Tracy Motorsports said...

Do it. It's the best money I've ever spent (other than that wild weekend in Mexico when I met this...) well, nevermind.
And it isn't just *not* having to do the cleaning yourself. The even better part - for me, anyway - is coming home to a clean house. Walking in the door to the smell of Pledge and Windex and all those other brand names that collectively smell like CLEAN to me.
You'll love it and kick yourself in the butt for not having done it sooner.

Steph said...

I swear to you, I could have written this myself. Well, a few months ago, I could have written this. Right now, I'm entirely too focused on one (or both) of us finding jobs and getting our own home again. :grin:

At any rate, GOOD FOR YOU!!

Yarnhog said...

Ya know, even the most perfect housewife of the 1950s (who didn't work for pay, by the way, and whose kids walked to school and didn't need driving to after school activities) had household help. Often help from several different people. So I'm not sure why moms today, most of whom work for pay at least part time and also serve as taxi service for multiple offspring, who can never be left unattended because the world is just too damned scary, are expected (and expect themselves) to also do all of the work that constitutes running a house. It's impossible.

Bearing in mind, of course, that I have no household help of any sort, have two kids with multiple after school activities, have a husband who works at home, making messes everywhere he goes, and spent 12 freakin' hours today doing horrible, stressful lawyer-work. I may not be in the best frame of mind to be making comments, actually.

Bullwinkle said...

I hired my first cleaning help 4 weeks ago. Wonderful.

And after reading your post (and your commenters) I still think I'm not eligible/worthy for household help. (Read: I don't have "enough" going on. I don't have children to care for. Except the furry ones.) Whatever.

It does bring a sense of calm and peace.

And I got over it pretty damn fast and now they come back regularly.

Anonymous said...

We used to have a cleaning service every other week (to control the expense) and it was great coming home to a clean house. The clean didn't last very long. The thing I hated the most was the night before they came, we all had to declutter so they could clean, clearing junk off flat surfaces so they could dust. Then they kept breaking things and not telling me, so I finally let them go.

Anonymous said...

Just remember, even superheros have sidekicks that help pick up the slack!

I think the money you spend on this will be returned many-fold in terms of getting making extra money in your business venture and keeping what's left of your sanity in place.

Quilty bird said...

I have had a cleaning person/service off and on for over 2 years. They come every other week and it is great. I have time to clean since I only work part-time and both kids are in school. It's just that I don't want to. Maybe I'm lazy, or restless, or whatever. Maybe I'm too tired from tidying up after everyone. Whatever the reason, it is money well spent. It is way cheaper than a divorce, or marriage counseling or anything else like that. I like to tell people I'm helping to stimulate the economy.

Call and get some estimates at least. Maybe it'll be cheaper than you think?

Patty said...

Amen, Sister! We have a cleaner who comes in for three hours a week, every week. Mind you, it's pretty cheap where we are ($11/hr CAD - I figure that's cheap!). This amount of time equals the following savings:
1) no yelling at spouse for not helping to clean the house again this week,
2) coming home to and living in a clean house,
3) keeping the house cleaner in general because, hello?, we're paying someone else to clean it who can't if there's too much crap around,
4) being comfortable having people drop by because the house never gets that bad (yes, I worry about stuff like that) and
5) one less thing to worry about means lots more time to enjoy being a stay at home mommy, etc, etc.
Go for it.

Lydee said...

why don't you check into Flylady.Net. Surely you've heard of her. Go check her out and see what you think.

Anonymous said...

My view is: if you're working for $ and your hourly rate is higher than what you pay the cleaner... then it's a no-brainer. Do it already!
I have had cleaning help in the house for over 30 years. Money well spent, for all the reasons given by others - sanity, happier marriage, fewer arguments, tidier house, etc.