(Photo credit goes to 4-year-old Asher. He likes to take photos of his toys, as well as very unflattering photos of his mom. The photo has nothing to do with the following story other than it represents the disarray in which I find myself living.)
I kind of figured we’d move to 17 miles north of Ingomar and never go anywhere again. I assumed that, living in so remote a location with three small children, we’d hunker down for weeks at a time, save our money, and get right down to the basics of life. I imagined us prioritizing, then leaving the VX only for the things that really matter, meanwhile becoming very thorough yet efficient in the handling of all our affairs because of the blissful, quiet hours spent out in the middle of nowhere. To put it simply, I thought we’d be balancing our checkbook more and driving less.
In reality, just like everyone else’s, our life just seems to be getting busier and busier. If there was an event to go to this summer, we went to it. Even now, far into fall, our calendar overfloweth. I keep imagining that I will find somewhere in the next months a two-week stretch in which we won’t leave the VX. Unfortunately, looking at the calendar, it seems unlikely. Just this week we’ve got hunters coming, two birthday parties to attend, two basketball games to spectate, a Halloween party followed by trick-or-treating… and, oh yeah, there’s always the matter of the cows and our job which is to take care of them. There’s no busier time on the ranch than weaning season, and we are about to be in the thick of it.
What would I do with two solid weeks of empty calendar?
In reality, I would probably be itching to socialize. This is what happens when you’re an antisocial extrovert: You move waaaaaaaay out in the country and then can’t wait ’til somebody has a party. (Never mind that one day spent away from home with our kids converts to approximately four days lost forever in which I could have accomplished many things such as balancing the checkbook and scrubbing the bathtub… if I’d just stayed home. Because in order for us to be gone a single day, it takes one day of preparation (packing the diaper bag, organizing plans, making lists), then two days of recovery when we get home (one to unload the pickup and lay on the couch in sheer exhaustion, one to return the house to close-to-as-clean-as-it-was-before-we-left). Sometimes it seems like I spend half my time hauling stuff from the house to the pickup before we go and then from the pickup to the house when we get home.
Here’s what I would like to do with two solid weeks of empty calendar: Stay home and peck away at the disaster on my desk, because seriously, this pile of receipts and mail and notes that is ever-growing to the right of my keyboard is starting to affect my quality of life. For instance:
Today I drove down 40 miles of dirt road to pick up our two big kids, who had spent two days with Grammy and Grampy. Pulling out of Grammy’s drive headed home with them, I realized it would be a good idea to fuel up before driving back up those 40 miles of dirt road. So I turned the pickup toward town, toward fuel pumps, instead of toward the VX. About a mile down the road, though, I remembered I didn’t even have my wallet and thus no way to pay for fuel. Knowing Beau would cringe if he knew what I was doing (he’s the type who likes to top off a fuel tank when it reaches the halfway mark), I decided I could definitely make it home on the fuel I had… and probably even back to town! So I turned the pickup around in the road. In the middle of doing so my back tires dropped into the (completely dry) barrow ditch, and wouldn’t come out until I got out of the pickup to put the hubs in. I’m pretty sure the kids thought I had us good and stuck, but I showed them that Mom can sure take care of things!
Forty relatively uneventful miles later, the kids and I made it home. There was my checkbook, sitting on the kitchen counter where I’d left it.
Shortly behind us, the Schwan man showed up. The poor guy drives all the way out here, and I’m a sucker for overpriced treats, so I always feel obligated to buy from him. He told me my total and I patted myself on the back for knowing right where my checkbook was. I opened it and then remembered I’d used our last blank check somewhere in recent memory.
“I have more,” I promised him, holding up a finger. “I’ll go get a new book. Be right back.”
In our bedroom at my desk I opened every drawer three times, shoving aside envelopes and calculators and notecards and newspaper clippings. I found a box full of blank ranch rodeo checks. Ranch rodeo money is only used for the promotion, organization, and presentation of the ranch rodeo we put on annually.
Do you think I could find any personal blank checks? Not a chance.
Back at the front door, I asked the Schwan man if he could take a debit card. He could!
After a moment of working with my card, though, he said, “Ma’am, my machine won’t let me use this card because it expires this month.”
I looked at the mound of mail on the kitchen counter. “Right! The bank sent our new cards already… hold on… I know they’re in here somewhere…”
I rifled through the pile of mail for a while, my checks growing as red as though I were standing at the grocery store checkout with a long line of people waiting behind me and a clerk unable to get my card to read… and then I remembered the ranch rodeo checks. Feeling guilty about it, I paid the Schwan man with a ranch rodeo check and sent him on his way. I will later reimburse the ranch rodeo from our own personal account (after I find our own personal checks, which I am sure I hid somewhere very safe). Thus, I have made more work for myself. Is this what the experts mean when they say that disorganization actually creates more work for the disorganized?
Things are a mess around here! I’m not getting around to things that need to be attended to. My case might be extreme, but from what I hear, a lot of folks are in the same spot. We’ve all got too much to do these days — and most of it is good stuff to do! — but there’s just not enough time to get it all done. The question is, where are we wasting time? What are we doing that we shouldn’t be doing? My peers are always hemming and hawing over what to cut out of their schedules so that a simpler and more fulfilling lifestyle might be achieved for the whole family. My mom continually ponders: Why is life so busy these days? Which suggests that this ol’ world hasn’t always been this crazy.
So what do you think the problem is? Why is my life crazy? Is it because we have little kids? Do I waste too much time blogging? And looking beyond me to our society at large, is it social media? Is it excessive road time? The American determination that we are going to do it all and have it all? Too many options and not enough saying no? If you have answers, please let me know.