Saturday, February 9, 2008

Prioritizing...Again

A few short weeks ago I wrote THIS post wherein I listed the things that I would like to do and that I felt would improve my quality of life. Well the last couple of days... scratch that.... few years.... I've been trying to focus on what really matters. You know what is REALLY important to me and what things REALLY would make me happy. Dealing with Kid's surgery definitely brought these feelings and questions to the forefront for me. And while I was trying to think what few things REALLY matter to me and assess if I am actually doing them or even capable of doing them... I remembered that I had already written this post a couple days after New Years.

Hmm... a short perusal proved that #1 the things I wish I was doing TODAY are the same things I put on the list nearly a month and a half ago and #2 I haven't done any of them yet. Well I guess #2 isn't entirely true... I did update Baby's memory book and I did paint those napkin rings with Kid that one time, and I did file my paperwork (well I started it anyway)... but overall I haven't even attempted to tackle the things that are hanging over my head.

Now it is true that the last month and a half have been a little crazy around here. There was my hormonal breakdown, my father's visit, Kid's neurology appointment, Baby's birthday, and last but not least Kid's surgery. So it is understandable that I haven't made a lot of progress in, say, the decorating department. And as legitimate as all that sounds... I mean it does... doesn't it?... the truth is I could write a list like that for EVERY month of EVERY year. That is just my life.

In the past few weeks I have often contemplated letting go of the blog. Yes it is true. Sometimes I think it is just a distraction from my *real* life and it keeps me from spending my time on my *real* priorities. You know... I just can't decide if blogging should be as important of a daily fixture as it has become. But then I have a week like last week and the support I get from everyone out there is so *real* that I have to rethink my position. This is real. And yes it can be a distraction...but it can also be a haven and a support system like none I have ever had... or that I think is even possible in the *real* world. The thing about blogging is that it is an obvious distraction but I have done a lot of soul searching and have come to terms with the fact that I felt this way in the past about my magazine reading, phone calling, and even catalog reading... the truth is staying home all day is boring at times and I will always find some thing, meaningful or not, to distract myself with. Maybe it is impossible for me not to... and maybe... just maybe it is unreasonable for me to expect otherwise. So I will continue to blog... and continue to make lists of my lists... and continue to obsess on my nature.

Now that I've sorted that out back to the discussion at hand... my list. Spending time with my kids is still a priority and probably something I will always fret over (despite being with them 24 hours a day). I'm not sure there is much I can do to ever ease my conscious in that department. But the other thing on my list that I think about ALL the time (and something I can do something about) is buying that stupid blue Ikea furniture. I want so much to just move into this house already. Move in completely and commit to it. I think that would help me feel more settled. And then I wonder if that is the real motivation or if I really want to do it because it is acquiring more stuff and that my real motivation is to just keep surrounding myself with more and more things. I have been really trying to think... really think... on a deep level... about what I am really doing and why. Why does that bedroom bother me so much? Will redoing it really make me feel better? In many ways I really think this is a legitimate desire. When I am in a room that is finished I do feel more at ease and comfortable. I'm going to think on it. Next month if it is still on the top of my list I'm buying the damn furniture.

30 comments:

Robin said...

I think that life is just always a journey to finding happiness. I don't think there is ever a destination. I want to always be striving for more. Sure, I want to be happy, but I think it is unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time. I'm just trying to reach the next level. I think it is great that you are constantly reevaluating.
I am glad that you are going to continue to blog. I do consider you and your commenters my friends, and it helps keep me sane.

Feener said...

oh Mrs. F.
how true ! i have not decorated this house and we are in it almost 4 years. i go to book club and i amazed at the other ladies' homes. I mean everything is done to a T. I have not done a thing. Now that the basement is finished (big deal getting it done). i have no excuse not to make the family room nice. i keep telling myself, the kdis are too young the furniture will get ruined. what if we move and the furniture doesn't fit well in the new house. excuse excuse. meanwhile i am embarrassed to host book club(well my house is much smaller than the others as well but at least if decorated i would feel better) . sorry so long but ahhhh. feel the same way.
also, i too think that blogging is taking up too much time, distracts me for getting things done, takes time away from me and hubby time. but i admit, I need some sort of outlet while sitting here all day. and i do not consider laundry an outlet. i would like to curb my time (as i write this freaking long comment)

blah blah blah - thanks !!

Cara said...

Good to hear you are keeping up the blogging. :-) You really make my day, and I think it blogging is definitely a cheap source of therapy.

Mrs. Furious said...

Robin,
I've updated my post a bit more re: the blogging. I think I have found a way to see it that maybe will help me feel less guilty about it... maybe!
I think the thing for me is this... my mom didn't spend enough time with me. And so I always worry about that. Of course I am here all the time... but she was too... she just wasn't emotionally connected. In my heart I know that I am but I will always question and feel guilt about my distractions.

Mrs. Furious said...

Feener,
I hear you.
I do.
It is such a hard line to walk... finding fulfillment or even just distraction vs doing a good job of staying at home.
I'm never totally sure which is more important.
Does the relief I get from blogging give me more pleasure than the chaos of household tasks and unfinished laundry gives me pain? Tough call.

Decorating: just do it. I'm 3 years past you (7 years here) and still haven't done it... and it bothers me just as much. I hate to buy crap Ikea shit but really if I can get a room finished that is more important at this point.

Mrs. Furious said...

Cara,
I'm glad your happy :)
It is true that the blog does help me sort out a LOT of stuff and often helps me move on or get motivated... I'm going to keep doing it.

squeegee said...

Phew, it's nice to know I'm not alone in the "to blog or not to blog" internal debate.

I'm glad you're going to keep blogging.

Mrs. Furious said...

squeegee,
thanks for commenting! I'm glad you enjoy the blog:)

I have a feeling everyone who blogs must have this debate with themselves from time to time. I of course have it hourly ;) If not for the kids I'd have a lot less conflict... but I'd also have a lot less material!
It is a lot like how your hair always looks great the day before you are supposed to get it cut... I always think "that's it" and then I wake up and have the best blog day of all time and recommit.

Kid Art said...

I think that time for yourself IS a real priority. I just think the balance is incredibly hard to find when parenting.

I have similar feelings about working outside the home. And then anything I do on top of working that takes time away from the family - ie taking time to work out, etc - makes me feel unbelievably guilty, even though I know I need a balance to keep my sanity and ability to be a good parent!

I stayed home with my kids for 5 years. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but it is true that it can be boring at times, and lonely too.

On decorating, I don't know. I struggle with the stuff dilemma all the time too. But I will say that it's given me a great deal of pleasure to create nice rooms for the kids - albeit out of Ikea crap - they don't know the difference between Ikea and fine furniture, so who cares? And we're just finishing up a major basement renovation - and I tell you what, it makes a BIG difference in our daily quality of life. Shallow? Maybe... but I'm happy about it.

What blue furniture? : )

I would miss your blog if you decided to stop...

Kid Art said...

Someday I will learn to make a link, but you could cut and paste this:

http://www.notestoself.us/2008/02/runs-with-blobs.html

I read it and thought of you Mrs F.

Dinah Soar said...

As I've aged I've realized that things don't have to be "all or nothing".

You enjoy blogging. Your readers enjoy you blog (I do!). But, there are other things you'd like to do, need doing...the solution could be this: don't quit blogging, cut back...post two times a week or three, instead of 7.

I recently cut back on my blog posts and it is wonderful. I have the best of both worlds. Often, it is about balance.

As for your house....you do need an overall plan in mind if you want your rooms to flow...but you could decorate a room at a time.

I'd start with the room that you think would give you the most joy.

We move a lot, and I used to do the main rooms first. Last house I did the master bath first and it was wonderful. That is where I start my day. And surrounding myself with order and beauty gave me a feeling of peace.

In the meantime while you are trying to decide what path to follow, I'd suggest what the Fly lady mentions about decluttering...make it a daily goal to get rid of 27 things (can't remember what her number was). If you are familiar with her you know even a scrap of paper like a grocery receipt counts as one.

I think getting the stuff we have organized makes us feel more in control...and I perceive from what I read on your blog that a feeling of being in control is important to you and comforts you.

Just make a beginning....one small step in the chosen direction, one step at a time.

For inspiration you might enjoy this blog:

http://pleasantviewschoolhouse.
blogspot.com/

Sorry for the long comment.

Mrs. Furious said...

Emily,
I desperately want THIS. And THIS. They remind me of the expensive Maine Cottage Furniture stuff. We have a big antique four poster cherry bed frame that I need to work around. The room is a light yellow. You can see a partial pick HERE in the second shot.
So I think the blue is a nice contrast to the yellow and the dark bed but still styled in a way that is in keeping with the bed. See? I need it.

And I'd miss you all too if I stopped... thank you for saying that.

I'll check out the link... I used to read her blog but haven't stopped by in a while. She is a great writer!

Mrs. Furious said...

Dinah Soar,
Don't worry not too long of a comment.

The blogging is a struggle. I know I should ease up a bit and I'm trying. I worry a lot about not meeting people's expectations and although I am working on it... it is a hard thing for me to break.

Yes you are right I do take comfort in being in control (for better or worse).

I think I'm going to work on developing a plan for the upstairs. We have the downstairs finished but for one reason or another I have never finished the upstairs. And it really does weigh on me because, like you say with your bathroom, it is where I start my day.
I think I'm going to start tearing out inspiration pics so I feel like I am working in the right direction.

I'll go check out your link... thanks!

Mrs. Furious said...

Dinah Soar,
I just checked out the blog... THANKS! She and I have very similar tastes. Although she is seems to be doing a better job of pulling it off ;)

Mrs. Furious said...

Emily,
I went and read it. Perfectly timed... it is so funny how that works out. I like her points about how it is such a well suited medium for women to establish community. When I think about it from that perspective it does help me to validate what I'm doing here. Thanks.

Nutmeg said...

If it makes you feel any better I've seen every version of that Hemnes dresser set and they are actually pretty sturdy and all of them have held up well in the three different houses that I've seen them in.

And I echo everyone else that we're glad you aren't quitting...

BUT. As we've come to know and enjoy you and your family I'm sure we all agree that if you think you'd be better off then I think you should quit.

I'm just happy that today you came down on the other side of that coin!

P.O.M. said...

I'm glad you're going to stick wtih blogging too. We all need our daily fix of Mrs. F. I, too write lists and lists of lists and evaluate my lists and re-write them and save them.

Mrs. Furious said...

Nutmeg,
thanks :)

And good to know on the dresser!



P.O.M.,
Mr F just brought home some great new list pads from a printer he works with: skinny with like 30 lines and it is kind of thickish slightly shiny paper... the kind a ball point pen glides on.... I am so freaking excited! Got to go make a list....

Torey said...

I've been prioritizing around here too, Mrs. F. and I have to say that your blog has helped me so much. I'm not into exercising, but since I met you and started reading your amazing blog, I've started cooking and cleaning. I look at you, and you're so real (I'm gushing. . .how embarrassing) and you do this whole mom thing so well. Then I thought, I can do that. And I have. Who knew that I could cook? (BTW, I have a great new recipe to share with you on Wed. . .it's AMAZING!!!)

What I'm saying is that we all appreciate this blog, but more than the blog, we appreciate you. And whatever YOU need to do. And if the house is a mess, and you haven't showered in a week (or is that only me?) but you're kids have a home cooked meal and some quality mom time, then which is more important?

Robin said...

Mrs. F,
I read your revision about the blogging. I am the same way. In the three years that I have been staying home, I have done (been obsessed with, if you will) different things to help cope with the difficulties of being a stay at home mom. Being a mom is a 24/7 job, and I don't think it is realistic to think that you (the general you) can be happy just mothering 24/7. I know I am a better mom if I have something that I do just for myself. Whether that is blogging, participating in message boards, talking on the phone, reading, whatever. I just sometimes need a break from the constant nurturing. I might be available more often for my kids if I didn't do any of that, but it would only be quantity, not quality. I also think it is really important for kids to be able to entertain themselves, and they get that opportunity while I am nurturing myself (which is what I consider myself doing while blogging.)

I have a friend with a baby (only child, and only grandchild on both sides,) and this baby throws a fit if it is not being entertained constantly. I love that my kids can sit down with their toys and be perfectly content by themselves for 30 minutes.

I highly doubt that your children will ever feel that you are unavailable (like you felt with your mom.) You are a very different person than your mom, and because you are so aware of it, I don't think you would let that happen.

I guess my rambling point is that none of us should feel guilty for doing something for ourselves. It makes us happier moms, which makes us better moms.

Mrs. Furious said...

Torey,
I am so glad the blog has meant so much to you. Really.

I can't wait to get the recipe!




Robin,
You are right and certainly I can read that or think that but believing it is sometimes a different story (about myself). I've been doing this stay at home thing for five and a half years and the reality is that I do need something for myself and that I do feel like I have a community of support with this blogging and that is important. I think that I will always feel a bit guilty but I can recognize that what I'm doing is worthwhile at the same time (some of the time).

katieo said...

Mrs. F
(get comfy. I think this comment is longer than the original post. AND be aware- I'm feeling particularly frank this evening.)

I disagree with your third paragraph. hormonal breakdown, not sleeping, bithdays, company, Kid's medical care (and maybe even some family drama of which you respectfully refrain from letting us in on (?)). Those are all very important things that suck energy, motivation; they require you to be present mentally and physically. I really don't think you should see anything about the last month in what you DIDN'T DO, but what you DID! (Oh wait. I'm sorry, did you also say you updated baby's memory book? Oh and of course there's the blog... ) And please, put that load on most people's shoulder's and they'd have gained 20 pounds with that stress in that amount of time!

"I worry a lot about not meeting people's expectations"

Screw us! YOU have the power to set expectations Mrs F. And so what if we run away from our computer crying because you haven't posted for a third time today...you have got to do what you need to do to feel good about your days. it's not about spending enough time with kid. It's about you feeling like you spent enough time with kid. So this is what I have to say: either get over it and change your perception about the *reality* of how much you're there for kid (i realize that is easier said than done considering your background), or cut back ever so slightly on the blog....and then (here's the most important part) BE OK WITH IT. EITHER WAY.

And the overhanging stress? The decorating? Baby steps!! Just doing one tiny thing like pulling out the pictures or THINKING about a plan for furniture and then GIVING YOURSELF CREDIT for that action or thought!! It will go a long way in making you at least feel like you're being proactive. I realize this also is probably harder to actually do considering you are such a perfectionist.

In my opinion, the "distractions" of life aren't so guilt-inducing if you feel like you are actually making progress in other areas. "Baby steps" aren't just effective in slowly chipping away at your priorities and goals, they make you feel proactive. So when you get on the computer or the phone or whatever, you don't have the sinking feeling that the blog is taking away from *real* life.

And while we're talking about perfectionism...

Just do me a favor before you get fed up with the blog and feel guilty again and are tempted to just delete it. Do you think there's maybe a large space between how much time and attention you're giving it now and just pulling the plug on the whole thing? If it's not "all," it's "nothing." You have got some crazy manic focus that makes for fun blogging, effective weight loss, meaningful parenting, everything you feel strongly about...If only you could channel that into "striking a balance."

Bottom line: You do NOT give yourself enough credit. But it's weird too, because you are so assured and yet seem to not believe in yourself at all in other ways. It's like you go through spurt of feeling like you do have the power and capability to make your life exactly how you want it, and then you tell yourself you don't. But it begins and ends with you.

Sorry to play therapist. I suppose I could've gotten away with, "Oh yeah Mrs. F, I sometimes feel guilty about blogging too." ha.

Mrs. Furious said...

Katieo,
"But it's weird too, because you are so assured and yet seem to not believe in yourself at all in other ways."
what can I tell you... I'm a complex person ;)

and
"You have got some crazy manic focus that makes for fun blogging, effective weight loss, meaningful parenting, everything you feel strongly about...If only you could channel that into "striking a balance.""
easier said then done I'm afraid and in many ways I think the truth is I don't want to because the benefits of my particular craziness is that I am very good at the things I choose to be focused on and I'm not willing to settle for less than that.


But here is the real deal:
I am a diarist.
I blog about myself not just my interests.
I am incredibly open about my mental ongoings and don't see hemming and hawing as a weakness. I think that often times because I'm willing to put everything out there all the time it can seem that I am asking my readers for guidance or assurance when in reality I'm not. The truth is I do know myself. The thing about the blog is that I use it as a motivational tool. If I wake up and the house is overwhelming I post about it or about being overwhelmed and then when I'm done I am motivated to clean it up. The thing that the readers don't always understand is that I don't really blog about the good things because what is the point? I've got those things under control and I don't really need to work on them or put energy into understanding my motivations regarding them. I'm not nearly as confused or anxious as the blog makes me seem. I just prefer to blog about the things that bother me. And truthfully people prefer to read it.

Now with the parenting guilt that is something that I will probably always have. I work on it and I realize that I am home 24/7 so obviously I am here... but the computer is a distraction and my responsibilities in keeping this thing going do take time and sometimes more time than I want and sometimes less time than I want. But when Kid closes my laptop I feel bad. She is telling me I'm doing this too much. And in an ideal world I could find a middle ground and post a few times a week but that is just not me. I'm an all or nothing sort. Can I work on it? I can try. But the issues that surround that are bigger than 17 years of therapy have been able to diminish completely.
I think when you aren't a perfectionist it is quite difficult to understand the depth of the issue and I can see that what seems so simple to fix can be frustrating. But doing something a little at a time just isn't in my makeup. And I really think that is the truth. I think on some level some of this stuff isn't just psychological it is how a person's brain functions.

Mrs. Furious said...

I hope that is clear.
Basically I use the blog to process my thoughts. It doesn't always mean I am literally questioning myself or doubting myself 24/7.

Mrs. Furious said...

Katieo,
oh and
"It's like you go through spurt of feeling like you do have the power and capability to make your life exactly how you want it, and then you tell yourself you don't."
I do think I have the power to make my life as I want it... I really never lose sight of that... what I am working on lately is figuring out what it is, exactly, that I do want. Do I really care if the house is organized or is that a social pressure?... do I WANT to return every comment or do I feel I SHOULD return every comment? I'm trying to be extremely thoughtful about what choices I'm making and that involves a lot of questioning but it doesn't mean I don't think I can do the things I choose. Make sense?

katieo said...

The thing that the readers don't always understand is that I don't really blog about the good things because what is the point?
What about cooking? And weight loss?

I think that often times because I'm willing to put everything out there all the time it can seem that I am asking my readers for guidance or assurance when in reality I'm not.
Yes. I think it's natural for readers (me) to want to jump in and dole it out. (But I have sensed that's not WHY you put it out there...)

...the benefits of my particular craziness is that I am very good at the things I choose to be focused on and I'm not willing to settle for less than that. Yeah, I could totally see that. And I do realize it's easy for me to jump in and bag on the perfectionist plight. I struggle in a different way.

I'm trying to be extremely thoughtful about what choices I'm making and that involves a lot of questioning but it doesn't mean I don't think I can do the things I choose. Make sense?
Yes, totally.

And the parenting guilt? I think most people carry it to a degree. Even if you did everything right, you'd always (general you) be wondering.

Thanks for the thoughtful response. The "picture" is a little clearer now :)

Mrs. Furious said...

Katieo,
Yes to the cooking & weight loss... but if I posted positive stuff all the time I would be unaccessible and annoying. You know what I mean. I was just at this blog that was fantastic but really the whole time I was thinking "are you really real? is it really this easy?" And she seemed better than her reader like something you should aspire to.
And although I want to be motivating with the weight loss and the cooking I want to do it from the point of view that anybody can do it... even a crazy stressed out sleep deprived mom ;)

And I am a *fixer* too so I get it. And I don't mind people giving me their take on things since there are many times when someone says something in just the right way and it can change how I'm viewing the situation.

Heather said...

You know, the Scandinavians are fans of Ikea! You can't call their favorite store's products "crap shit!" That's like saying Bjorn is a stupid name! It hurts!

Seriously, there's a lot to say about this post, but really the most fundamental in my mind is SOME Ikea stuff is crap. You gotta be choosy about which things you pick. The Hemnes line = not crap. I demand a retraction!! ;)

Mrs. Furious said...

Heather,
come on you know it is crap. I mean I'm still going to get it... but furniture you have to put together yourself versus furniture ... say.... handcrafted by the Amish, or an actual furniture maker, is crap. We've had so much Ikea it is crazy and the fact is real furniture can be moved indefinitely without getting rickety and sadly that cannot be said for Ikea stuff.
I am getting the Hemnes line though for Kid's room.
But you know what I'm saying I want drawers made of actual wood (the whole drawer!) not particle board.

Heather said...

I do NOT know it's crap. I'm serious! We have tons of stuff from Ikea, and I've learned to pick out the crap from the rest of the stuff. Particle board = crap. Wood = not crap. There's dormroom stuff, then there's the other stuff. Everyone's amazed that our dining room table and chairs are from Ikea. Baby Hansen's furniture will also be from Ikea. I very much like the company, their stuff, their prices, and their stance on environmental stuff.
I don't mind putting things together; I'm pretty good at it now. I have some other stuff from you'll-love-it-at-Levitz, and that place is seriously freaking shady.


Your love of all things Swedish is faltering! ;)

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