Sinkholes and Structures

There are times when a friend asks me how I’m doing. I inhale to answer and I have no words. This is not a sign of nothing to tell, but a sign of “I don’t know where to start.” This past week is one of those times. When describing last week I previously used the metaphor of a flood, but today a sinkhole seems a more apt comparison, at least to start. I may very well jump metaphors before I finish typing. I do that sometimes. Sinkholes develop slowly and invisibly as water seeps far below the surface. The ground is eroded until it all collapses inward. I did that the second half of last week. Then I spent the weekend figuring out where all the water was coming from and how to go forward.

The core of the issue is this: I am the scheduler of our family. I was consistently scheduling everything to maximize Howard’s creative output and to maximize the growth of the children. These are good things. I like them and think they are quite worthwhile. Unfortunately I was also structuring our lives so that the only way to maintain the system was for me to consistently give up things that I wanted. I tried very hard to stop wanting things without consciously realizing I was doing it. It didn’t work and I collapsed.

As usual, Howard was there to pick up the pieces. He hugged me a lot. He listened to me ramble and fished out the important bits so that I could make sense of them later. He told me I should take a vacation. This last piece was the first step I took toward changing the structure. I’ve booked a flight to Baycon. I’ll be going by myself and it will be terribly inconvenient for everyone. The inconvenience is the point. I am allowed to want inconvenient things and get them sometimes.

Today I saw the second structural change I need. Our house was a mess. It has been a mess for months because I have not had the time to clean it nor had the energy to make the kids clean. I realized that anytime a challenge arises in our family I assume that I am part of the solution. So instead of a cross connected web where everyone was helping each other, all the threads led to me. We had a family meeting tonight to point this out. Everyone nodded and agreed with me. Then we scattered through the house with assignments to make a room clean. Thirty minutes later the chaos level was greatly reduced. I don’t expect them to turn over new leafs and be exemplary from now on, but at least we have tonight’s lesson and cleaning to point to when we need to remind them.

Also included in tonight’s meeting was a little lecture on “Thou shalt not ignore your mother when she speaks to you.” I feel like I’ve been saying it for weeks, but it might have sunk in more tonight. I hope so. I’m tired of feeling disregarded and invisible.

Further adjustments may be necessary, but I figure they’ll become apparent when we are ready for them. Honestly I am my own worst enemy in keeping these changes. It is going to take concerted effort for me to not let things slide back to the way they were. I’ve long known that the only person I can truly change is myself. Now I need to learn that it is okay to ask others to do some of the changing. It is harder for me. Doing most of the work myself is easier day to day than requiring my kids to step up. The hope is that they will someday step up without me having to goad them into it. If I can just get them helping each other I would not feel so over-burdened.

Right now I’m just glad that I can feel energetic and interested again. I wear out before the end of the day, but it is still better than all-worn-out all the time. Onward.