They say that the best laid plans often go awry. This is the motto for this past week. I find myself being terribly unproductive at work today because I am sort of mulling over what went wrong, and what went right, and how to restore the balancing act that I call my life.
There is a constant background list in my head of all the things I want to do, all things I have to do, all the things that would be a "Good Idea" to make progress both at school, at home, and around the farm. There is absolutely no way that any of these lists will ever be done, except for certain finite tasks like grading a certain stack of papers or folding a certain pile of laundry or trimming sheep hooves. There is always the knowledge that sooner or later, those finite tasks will be repeated with a different pile, stack, or set of hooves. I feel pretty happy when I get maybe 7 or 8 things on this background list - get kids to school, get kids picked up (on-time!), feed animals, feed kids, run necessary errands, cook dinner - basic, need to do every day things.
When things get out of balance, when one area becomes consuming to the point of only being able to do the bare minimum in the other areas, I get frustrated! This week, the unexpected imbalance came in parenting. My third child needed more support in his homework and more emotional support this week. It was highly time consuming - 4-5 hours a night. I am ashamed to say that I had to remind myself that being there for this kid, right then, was the most important thing I had to do on any list. I had the older two cook dinner twice this week. I did the bare minimum with the animals. My poor husband had to come home to a rather disorganized family room (I usually straighten up before he comes), just so I could help this kid with his math and his feelings of failure.
This son is the intense one - a B is as good as an F for him. The school has a grade check tool, and he had two F's on it last night because he had two missing assignments. One of them was homework we worked on for an hour and a half and he couldn't finish, and one of them was a paper he did, had in hand, but didn't turn in until the end of the period because he was having trouble printing the Works Cited page. On top of that, he overheard the teacher saying, "These kids don't deserve this school." He is the kid who will take a generalized statement like that and apply it directly to his own heart.
The happy news is, after a huge meltdown, calm down, back rub, motivational speech, and an explanation that I really was the best person to explain the math to him (because it was hard for me, I can explain it at the very basic level of a beginner - yeah, I was surprised that worked, too), we got all 40 problems of two days of math done - graphing linear equations takes forever, I will have you know, when there are 40 problems..... When I asked him this morning if he could handle the quiz, the reflexive, "I hate math; I am a bad person" statement reared it's ugly head. I rephrased and asked, "Linear equations - do you think you can do that today?".
He said with utter confidence, "Yes. I got that."
Okay, now I feel better that the horse stall has only been cursorily cleaned and we've been living off macaroni and cheese and even that the house was far messier than I would normally like to welcome my husband home to. I am still facing a mountain of what I didn't do, but I will take the advice I gave my son: sometimes the only way over the mountain is to just start. One step.