It’s Time to Let Go of Harassed and Bedraggled

I have a distant memory of this person who used to get up and don business suits and high heels every day.  She spent her days downtown, liaising, managing, co-ordinating and generally bustling around being productive.  Oh, that person was me!  Where on earth did she go?

Admittedly, I have kept my hand in running a freelance business.  Thank goodness, because if I tried to rejoin the workforce now I wouldn’t know where to start.  Technology has run rampant since those glorious days when I sat at the forefront with a Mac Classic on my desk.

One of my greatest challenges, though, is my own self-perception.  While I like to think that my clients see an efficient, confident supplier of awesome business writing, whose reproductive history is somewhat irrelevant, she’s really just a shiny shell concealing the harassed, bedraggled creature that my children like to keep at their beck and call.

I need to convince myself that I am a business owner who has children, rather than a Mum who runs a small business.  Sounds simple, and yet I am a slave to my life’s distractions; and there are so many distractions to choose from.

I woke up the other day full of excellent intentions – start the day with hot yoga, straight to a meeting of my business mastermind group, a few hours in the office and my running clinic in the evening.  Wow, just looking at that schedule makes me feel all Oprah meets Martha Stewart!

Then a double take at the clock confirmed that it wasn’t an optical illusion –  I really was running 40 minutes late.  After 20 mad scrambling minutes I actually got one off to school on time – not bad, considering.   My oldest, however was in crisis; she’s a teenager, and a drama kid.  Her friends are all teenagers and drama kids.  You can only imagine how much excitement that makes for!  My second was sick.

So, I missed hot yoga getting #1 to school and I missed the mastermind meeting getting #2 to the doctor.  By then of course any remnant of that competent executive-type had run screaming from the building and I was just left with ‘harassed and bedraggled’.

Still, the crisis and the cough were survived.  So, my day was not all for naught.

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Important Life Lessons for Children

When did I start to become defined by the behaviour of my children?

Maybe it was the first time one of them had a toddler-tantrum in the supermarket and I endured the accusing glares of others who’s children ‘would never have got away with that’.  Yeah … yeah, I expect they were all potty trained at four months, walking at five months and quoting Shakespeare by six months, too.

Unfortunately, though, I think we all do become identified with the successes or failures of our offspring.  Fortunately for me, all three of mine are highly intelligent and creatively and athletically gifted.  It’s not my concern if other people don’t always see it the way I do.

Now I’m not saying they’re perfect; they do all have their own little idiosyncrasies (yes, let’s call them ‘little idiosyncrasies’).  But on the whole they seem to be turning out okay.  For starters, they’re all completely bilingual – they speak perfect English, and equally flawless Canadian.  I swell with pride when I hear them say “I need the loo, eh”, or “I left my toque in the boot of the car”.

And for the most part I think I taught them most of the really important life lessons – for instance that house-cleaning is over-rated and people should be interesting enough to find better things to do with their time (aside from the mad panic shoving clutter into closets when anyone is coming to visit).  Or that it is extremely dangerous (er, I mean rude) to interrupt someone while they’re reading, particularly if what that person is reading is anything by Terry Pratchett.

So, on the whole, I think my work here is done and they’re ready to be let out in public.  How the public feels about that is their own business.

Running to the Future

Is it possible that middle age is not the most elegant time of life to start jogging?

I went for a practice run the other day, mostly motivated by a morbid fear of being left in the dust, breathless, red in the face and humiliated at my upcoming running clinic.  I quickly had to adjust my intention to run daily when every muscle in my lower body mysteriously seized up the next morning.  There’s a lot going round right now, so I obviously came down with a rare achey-body virus.

Still, the first running lesson went quite well – despite my disappointment that they didn’t cancel after a foot of snow fell the night before.  The idea of running was stressful enough without worrying about sloshing through the slush and muck of a retired blizzard.

I was horrified to discover that the goal of the clinic is a 5km race.  And here I thought the goal was to be able to trot to the end of the block without keeling over and dying.  Still, as we ran I’m pretty sure I could feel my butt firming up which is really what it’s all about.

It was a glorious moment when we found ourselves back at the store before I gave in to the urge to disappear down the nearest alley and stumble to Starbucks.

And not a single crisis at home while I was out – yay!

When Empty Nesting Becomes a Police Matter

Mixed results so far in the business of developing autonomy.

Firstly, I arranged to take a running clinic with a friend – how grown up and adventurous!  Here’s an activity that will make me fit and slim and possibly even preclude me from carrying a cellphone, thereby guaranteeing an hour of exclusively adult company.

We went for a coffee before registering, and I told my friend about my plans to reinvent myself.  As we left the coffee shop I laughed and explained that I couldn’t resist the temptation to call home and check in – even though my children are 12, 15 and 17 and quite capable of being home on their own at eight o’clock of an evening.  Nonetheless I pulled out my phone to the sight of a furiously blinking ‘message’ light.  Not to worry, it’ll all be fine, I thought, until I heard my son’s hysterical voice imploring me to come right home because he’d called the Kids Help Phone and they’d told him to call the police and the police are on their way over.

Say What?  The police!  And do you think I could get an answer on the home phone number or any of the three cellphones for which I pay so much to ensure I can reach the children at any time?

I didn’t get my new running shoes, but I did break some landspeed records on the way home.

You’ll be relieved to hear that everyone is alive and well.  Said son was on the receiving end of some harassment at the hands of another student at school, and the Kids Help Phone seemed like the perfect people to help.  Why they felt this was a police matter, I’m not sure, but when a police officer did finally turn up at the door she very kindly allayed my fears of being hauled off to the slammer for failing to instruct my children on the precise situations that warrant a 911 phone call.

Next week when I do actually start running I can only hope that the agony of exertion can keep my mind off the chaos that could be unfolding at home.

Help – my nest is emptying!

What a shock it is to realize that my little chickies will soon be flying the coop.  Okay, I suppose I’ve always known it would happen – but this soon?

After 17 years of living my life vicariously through three other people, I suddenly find myself challenged with the need for an autonomous existence – for a persona other than “Mother”.  As a sidenote here – I agonized over whether to call myself “Mum”, which is what I am, or “Mom” which is the prevailing moniker here in Canada.  I still haven’t managed to convince my children’s teachers that Mom is correctly spelled with a ‘u’, and frankly we’re all a little confused.

Anyway, I still have time – my oldest is 17 and currently planning just how far away from here she can get the second she graduates in June.  My sons are 15 and 12, so I have received the rude awakening in time to come up with something before the youngest leaves school (unless, of course his teachers suddenly recognize the genius he has been claiming since kindergarten, and skip him ahead 3 grades).

It’s going to be a bit of a makeover, but I’m on a mission to convert myself into a fascinating person with varied interests, no end of sparkling repartee and a constant stream of brilliant plans none of which involve children.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it, so I think I’ll go and watch Family Channel while I think about it.