I got up this morning, as grumpy as all hell, headache from sleeping in the wrong position, irritated about how my day was looking and generally feeling altogether crap. I’m 55 years old; how do I end up doing things that I don’t want to do? How does that happen? Why does my life not look like I want it to?
I decided last weekend that I’m going to rewrite my book. In case you don’t know, I wrote a book about a year ago, with what is for most people, the most interesting topic they can talk about: themselves. My book is about how we went from having jobs to being property developers, turning over blah blah, etc, etc. When I wrote it, there was a definite context for it: I was teaching personal development/mindset and money mindset and John & I were putting together information to begin teaching property development. There’s a definite gap in that market, let me tell you; all of the so-called property development ‘experts’ teach you how to do small scale projects. We didn’t do that. We didn’t want to spend our time building up slowly, starting small and working our way up to bigger things, we wanted to just step straight into the big stuff and not waste any of our precious time on learning curves or all that garbage. So that’s what we did. After spending a couple of years doing renovations, we thought ‘bugger this for a lark’ and found ourselves an $11 million project. Now that’s a learning curve!
I think it’s a fascinating story but then I’m extremely biased because it happened to me. I also believe fully and completely that because it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. Although I like to think I’m special and unique (my absolute worst fear EVER is that I’m ordinary), I also totally contradict myself because I believe that there’s nothing special about me and if I can do this, so can anyone else. It was all just this big learning curve, we had to keep growing, changing, adapting, letting go of things, not taking “failures” as meaning we couldn’t do it, not taking on other people’s opinions that we were mad, that we’d lose everything, that we’d fail. We just kept going till we got to where we wanted to go. That’s all. There’s no other big secret. But it has been an interesting journey.
The problem is, though, that I’m getting nothing done. NOTHING. I’ve fallen back into my old habits of doing all the things that are a bit of a nuisance, all of those little humdrum things like getting the washing in or paying the bills, even socialising & fitness training, in the mornings in the hope of ‘getting them out of the way and leaving me clear to work for the rest of the day’. I live in this happy little fantasy world where, once I’ve got all of the bits and pieces out of the way, I’m free to create and do all the things I enjoy doing. You’d think that after decades of running my life this way and decades of it never working like that, that I’d learn my lesson, but no; I still find myself organising my life like this by default. I don’t even think about it, it’s just how it ends up.
Contrary to the popular view of tortured artists (and whether I can stake a claim to being a tortured artist or not, how I feel right now is how I imagine a tortured artist would feel, constantly battling the mundanity of everyday life while they strive to bring the beauty of their artistry into the world. Cue a large sigh while I put the back of one hand to my forehead), I’m a morning person. I love the mornings. Mornings are when I get all my stuff done, when I’m the most creative and productive. So, if I’m filling my mornings with all this mundane/non-urgent/non-creative stuff, accurately or not, I end each day feeling like I’ve created nothing. Which is okay once in a while, maybe even one day a week, but it’s not okay when it’s gone on for weeks or months, like it has now. Like an overgrown toddler, I end up resenting everybody and everything. I resent John for taking up my mornings, even though I agreed to the morning training sessions and John delightfully takes me out for breakfast after most of our workouts. Ungrateful brat that I am, I find myself resentfully ordering a very nice breakfast while feeling totally put upon and abused. Then I spend the rest of the morning apologising and being overly nice to John to try to make up for my abysmal behaviour. Which pulls me further away from feeling like I’m doing what I want to do and creating & writing because by this time, I’ve managed, with a fair degree of expertise, to get myself completely out of a creative headspace. By this time, I don’t want to do anything.
I saw a post that a friend had put up this morning about how she was going to go over and play with her son till she realised that actually he was quite happy in his own space and there was nothing for her to do. That’s what I’ve spent months doing: being (and I can’t believe I’m saying this because I swore I’d never do anything like this) a helicopter parent. I’ve got great excuses, the same as all helicopter parents: Keeley’s been off school & at home sick or injured or both for 12 weeks out of the last 16. Since she goes to boarding school 500kms away and we only moved to the Gold Coast last year, she has no friends up here, she’s never been to school here, she has no one she can socialise with. With the full force of parental guilt hitting me right between my eyes, I’ve taken on the responsibility of making sure she’s happy; we moved house, therefore, as her mother, it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s happy and occupied here. The weight of that responsibility has been getting me down, though, and I eventually told Keeley that she needs to find herself some friends, maybe find some local sports teams/summer camps so that she can find a group of friends up here. She doesn’t really see the point as she’s quite happy doing what she’s doing it’s me who’s exhausted with the whole thing, but she said she would try to sort it out as it would be nice to have someone other than her mother to go shopping or down to the beach with.
Unfortunately, I can’t leave it alone. I keep looking at her and, like some obsessive compulsive, thinking, “She’s still in the house. Why is she still in the house? She must be bored. If she gets bored, she’s going to get depressed, she’s also not going to enjoy her time at home. Right, I need to make her do something” Then I find myself saying “Okay, so what are we going to do today? Where are we going to go? What do you want to do? Is there anything we need to buy?”, sounding for all the world like one of those over-attentive friends that no one wants to be around because they’re a real pain in the bum, always trying too hard to be liked. And it starts before the child even gets out of bed in the morning! By 8am, I’m thinking, “right, I need to get things done as quickly as possible because Keeley will be up soon and I’m going to need to make sure she’s happy (!), so I’d better get stuff done now because there’ll be no time later”. Then, I look at the clock and think, “Oh, there’s no time to get into any writing, there’s no point in starting, I’ll just do this piece of nonsense over here and kill some time till she gets up”... and nothing gets done and I finish the day feeling like I’ve achieved nothing that I wanted to achieve and feeling resentful and discontented at the world and his brother because I’ve had to do all these things that I don’t want to do. Again.
Maybe it’s time to stop being a discontented toddler, stop pretending that I’m not allowed to do all of the things I want to do because of the various people/situations in my life and actually organise my life so I do the things I enjoy doing. I wonder if I can manage that? Hmm…
Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...