06 January 2012

The Year of Living Vigilantly

We are renovating the House of Penii. There were some minor cosmetic flaws that weren't fixed in a timely fashion, and now they've become full-fledged structural issues.

You know that over the past month or so I've been Deep Thinking. I am 47. My primary job is Mother. My second job is Writer, and my part-time job is Wife. I would also add Taxi Driver, but I think it's included in my "Motherhood: A Binding Agreement"  under "Supplemental Duties." There's a lot of fine print in that contract, and I'm sure I missed a few key points.

All of my jobs keep me mentally and physically busy. So much so, I am often paralyzed by the daunting pace, the sheer busy-ness of it all. Which means I end up sucking at all of it. So, I gave myself a year-end job review, and decided change was needed. Thus, The Year of Vigilance. The idea is that our focus, as a family, will be on individual and collective success.

We have several areas in which to work to achieve our goals.

Right now, One is legally considered an adult, but could never survive on his own. I am overdue in taking the necessary steps to ensure his safety and independence.

Two is failing classes, and digging a GPA hole that he will be lucky to claw out of before he must apply to colleges. He has no time management skills, and a distorted interpretation of reality that is the purview of all teenagers.

Three is perfectly content with his sub-par grades, because he has never worked to his potential. He will be eaten alive next year in his regional high school of 1600 students. The teachers will barely notice him, or care if he is struggling.

Four has had great success at his school. He is working on recognizing what frustrates him, and learning to recover his day if he hits a bad patch. But he is still most content watching television or playing video games. He is overweight, and will negotiate for snacks all day. Luckily, he'll eat a lot of fruit, but those are still carbs, baby.

Five is...Five. His previous issues with anxiety seem to have abated, and he's really enjoying second grade. I have to work on his need to buy everything in the LEGO catalog, but he's the youngest, so theoretically he should be the easiest to re-train. Ha!

Speaking of buying everything--I have to stop. I could make a lot of excuses for my Target, Costco, and Walmart bills (it's food/clothing/most of it's not for me...) but the truth is, I'm the one holding the credit card. I have to be the one to say "No." This will also be a good lesson for my children, two of whom went with me to Target the other night. Three was shocked at the total bill and looked at me like, "Um, are you going to be able to pay that?" And that cart really was just food and two pairs of jeans. Oh wait, and slippers and collectible baseball cards for his birthday. See what I mean?

We're all out of shape. The Captain and I spend half our lives in chairs. This is not healthy. Our children would lie around in front of screens all day long if we let them. And I've let them, because I don't always notice, or I ignore it because I'm busy.

But I haven't been busy writing. Mostly I've been reading. I scan and read blogs, I write my own every now and then, but I haven't been working on the book. I can't claim to be even a part-time Writer if I don't write. So I have made a realistic promise of one hour a day writing only "Big Sky".

As you can see, there are a lot of areas to spruce up. I wanted to demolish some, but the Captain suggested that I bite off only what I can chew (hmmm-an idea for my eating habits!), so as to avoid large-scale rioting. My kids have Airsoft guns and they're not afraid to use them, so it seemed prudent to ease into some of the changes. There's already been push-back, which is tiring but expected.

Today, as the Captain was leaving  I was screaming at one of the teens to hurry up.

"They're killing me," I said.

"Don't let them," he answered. "You're ten times stronger than they are. Just revert back to your teenage self and you'll win."

It's true. I was a challenging, defiant, stubborn pain in the ass, all the way into my twenties. After that, I was a gem. (Yes, Mom and Captain, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.) I can tap into that again.



  1. I LOVE the plan! Yes you can do it! Just realistic goals each day please. It doesn't matter what you were, it's the end result that matters and you ARE a gem. They can be too. The Captain already is!
    Yes my love, vigilance. I'm praying for you. Mom

  2. PS I will stop whining when I don't see a blog each morning that I turn on my computer. Love you!

  3. Holy wowsers. That is...ambitious. I barely keep my resolutions for myself. I don't think I could handle six other people. I am in awe.

  4. Ditto Delia's comments. I am in awe of your vision and your realistic perceptions. I look forward to following this story.

  5. Anonymous7.1.12

    Wow. I am exhausted just reading your list. I need to work on many of the same issues, but it's just me and one kid - I don't know how you do what all you do.

  6. Yes the hints from your past make me feel that you have a formidable power you could unleash on those little so-n-so's if you chose! They'd better know that. ;-)

    No idea if this book is applicable to parenting cause I haven't read more than the first bit, but in case it's of help...

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard »
    By Chip Heath, Dan Heath

  7. Anonymous7.1.12

    I'm cheering for you. And have complete faith that you have what it takes to inact the changes needed.

    Also, I saw your tweetie about the peanut butter knife. I've done that. With a baking dish. More than once.

    Later I realized that what needed to happen, before the knife went into the dishwasher, was that someone should have licked it better. So. Not your fail this time, for sure.

  8. Thank you all! I appreciate the good vibes, but I'd save the awe until after I actually accomplish any of the changes!

    I know Skye reads "Zen Habits," and I might check that out, because it talks about just changing one thing at a time. And thank you, London Mabel, for the book suggestion. I walk around listening to myself most of the time and that's not always successful, so outside input could be useful.

    I look forward to sharing the journey with you. I recommend boots, grappling hooks, and perhaps a sidearm if you want to ride along!

  9. Oh God. You've just reminded me I promised myself to write BEFORE I read my favorite blogs. Rats.

  10. P.S. I have started down the drive without various members of my family when they couldn't get it together in time. They usually come flying out of the house before I turn onto the road.

    I don't like to be late to work.


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.