I’m not the type of person who meets women who don’t work (whether moms or not) and thinks, “What do they do with their time?” I know that time has this funny habit of slipping away, and especially moms have their work cut out for them. I try to be respectful of people’s time, their commitments and obligations.
So, why the hell can’t people have more respect for my time?
I work two days a week – the same two days every week. That means that three days of the week, I don’t trek into the office. But that doesn’t mean I’m sitting at home with my feet up watching TV or reading a book all day. I have plenty of things to do – like my 70 hours a month volunteer commitment, or cleaning my house, or going to the gym, or grocery shopping, or laundry, or the million other things that I could be doing.
But, let’s look at what happens on a typical day off:
My mom calls needing something, my dad texts me saying it’s been so long since he’s seen me that he needs a picture to remind him of what I look like, my brother calls wanting to know if I can help with some of his wedding stuff, my future sister-in-law texts me panicking that I haven’t printed off her wedding invites yet, my cousin needs help with the paperwork for her father’s company, the car needs to be brought in to be fixed, there’s dry-cleaning to be dropped off, AMP needs me to pick up something from the store, AMP needs something returned to the store, my grandparents are in town and need to be brought to a doctor, my aunt complains I never visit her anymore…
And, no, there’s very little exaggeration in that… That has actually happened on multiple occasions.
The problem is, I think I’ve inherited my mother’s ‘guilt gene’ – and not in the sense that I guilt people into doing things (though my mother is able to guilt me into doing a lot of things), but in that, I feel guilty saying no. I will rearrange my plans and postpone what I want to, or should be, doing, to do all these things for other people.
I know AMP should take first place, and I try to do the things he wants and needs first. After all, he’s been wonderful about not asking me to work more, even though we could use the money to pay down debt. But, I have such a weakness when it comes to my family.
I could be on the other side of town, and if my mom calls me asking if I can go pick up some bread for her, I’ll drop everything and do it.
And, my dad does so much for me, that I feel incredibly guilty not doing things the few times he asks for something.
But, the wedding thing is starting to drive me crazy. My brother and his fiancée are getting married in 5 weeks. Neither one of them seems incredibly into planning the wedding. My sister-in-law(to-be)’s father has a heart condition and his health is a constant worry, and the mom has her hands full with that, and doesn’t seem to have much worries about the fact that her daughter’s wedding is 5 weeks away and they still haven’t figured out the décor, the flowers, and many other important details.
Which would be fine. My response is, if they don’t care about putting the time into their wedding, that’s their problem. Especially when my sister-in-law calls and asks me if I can do something wedding related and when I ask where she is, she says the beach.
Have I mentioned that we’re Italian though? Have you ever been to an Italian wedding? They are elaborate thought-out affairs. Mine was relatively simple, but still took 10 months to plan, and lots of time and effort. We had a 5 course seated dinner for 120 guests.
My mom is determined that my brother’s wedding should be at least as nice as mine was. I kept things simple, but thanks to my mom it was beautiful and elegant. But that leaves my mom shouldering all the wedding planning responsibility, because if she doesn’t do it, no one will.
And with my mom’s health (she has Multiple Sclerosis and a myriad of other health issues), her responsibilities for her sick parents, and her own life, she is becoming exhausted. So, when she calls me asking me to help out with my brother’s wedding, I say yes, not for them, but for her.
So there goes some more of my time, whether it’s printing out and addressing invitations, or going with my mom to look at favors or decorating ideas, or helping throw the shower that the bride’s side should be responsible for, I’ll do it for my mom and to quiet the ‘guilt gene’.
And then, I’ll come home and make dinner, and clean the house, and do some laundry, and cringe that I missed going to the gym again…
And then I wonder why I feel exhausted all the time…