Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"All aboard for Panic Stations"

On Monday night, too late and too tired, I filled in all the BA Skyflyer Solo unaccompanied minors’ paperwork for the children’s upcoming trip to the UK.

Have I admitted here on my blog that I will not be with my children this Christmas? Have I declared it or just hinted at it? At book group yesterday, one of the women gasped when I said it. She gasped and clapped her hand to her chest, and said: ‘Oh. Christmas? I couldn’t do that.’ Will I earn a ‘Bad Mother’ award?

My children want, with all their hearts, to be in England this Christmas. They are desperate to see their grandparents, their aunties and uncles, their cousins and their chosen family – the godless parents and ‘godsisters’, although strictly speaking, I think that should also be godlesssisters. I am desperate to do the writing course in Koh Chang. My article writing is going fine but my novel writing … is not. My doing - my actually doing as opposed to talking about doing – the article writing has made me a much happier human. This has to be good for my children, right? (Thank you kind K for your words after book club! Interestingly, I have noticed that it’s only other people for which this seems to be a problem and it’s not them doing it – it’s us.)

Anyway, so there I was filling in the forms and it was complicated because there was another flight thrown in – I won’t bore you with the details except to say the people taking and picking up from airports have to be named and addressed so BA only handover to the correct people. And then I copied it to the four marvellous women who are going to be surrogate Mummies to my children, and asked them to check their bit and come back and confirm everything is okay. Because I had done the form filling at the last minute, I had to send the forms back to Husband’s secretary before I had all the feedback.

This morning I got an email saying that nowhere on the form did it say that Godlessparents were ‘meeting’ the extra flight. My sister puts them on a flight and Mr Nobody meets them. Will BA notice? I wondered. Can I play Russian roulette with my children? No. This is a small thing: Husband and secretary can sort this out tomorrow in the office (today is a bank holiday).


What it has demonstrated to me is that I am trying to do too much. It can’t all be done. So I am streamlining: I am ferociously knocking things off my list …


What I have noticed is that I am intending to stick to the things I’ve agreed to do for other people, and knock off most of the things I wanted to do. I can easily let myself down but not other people.

I know someone that would challenge me on this: I know he would say that I should be thinking about me. Explain to other people and they will understand. And, this is what my Skyros course is about: I AM thinking about me because my being happy benefits everyone. But this goes against everything in my nature: ‘Don’t let other people down’ was somehow a mantra of my upbringing and I can see it in my Mum and my sister. They think about others before they think about themselves to (I think) the detriment of their wellbeing. I know I do.

Hmmmm, is this a ‘mummy disease’?


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Not entirely - and I speak as a non-mummy by choice. I think it's mostly a woman disease, but again, not entirely; I know men with the same problem. For me, the key is to stop agreeing to do things for other people in the first place. Which is hard. And I don't mean stop entirely, that would be impossible (well it would for me). But the problem is, it's easy to agree to something - it takes seconds and no effort or even thought - but it's often much more difficult to see it through, and yet, having agreed, we feel compelled to do so. And I take some pride in that; like you, I don't want to let people down. So for me, the hard-learned lesson - still being learned in fact - is not to say 'yes of course' as a kneejerk reaction to any request, but to practise saying things like 'I'm not sure whether I can, I need to check my diary, I'll call you later to let you know' or 'Hmmm, that date rings a bell for some reason and I can't think why, can I get back to you after I check with Top Bloke' - not as white lies to put off the Evil Moment Of Saying No, but to buy myself time to think about whether I really want to give the time and effort requested in the context of everything else I have to do. I'm finding that people understand if I then say 'I'm sorry, I can't do [whatever it is you wanted me to do] because I simply won't have time, and I'd rather say 'no' now than let you down later.' And sometimes I even manage to say 'no' straight away!!! (not very often though) So... how about a New Year's Resolution, JJ?

Pacha said...

I think what you're doing is the bravest thing any person can do (be it man or woman, parent or not). Taking control of your happiness and your dreams and FOLLOWING IT THROUGH. Being dedicated to this enough to sift through what is important and what isn't.

And I think for some of us (and here I do think it is a parent thing when it comes to worrying about our kids - ALWAYS, especially when everything is fine but we're sort of already anticipating something will go wrong) letting go of that worrying is the hardest part ever.

I have days. Then I worry because I'm not worrying and I trip back into the circle.

I think you're doing everything right. In your family this xmas EVERYONE is doing what they want. That is all that matters. The coming together afterwards will be fantastic!

And have I mentionned that I am just a LITTLE BIT jealous of how you will be spending your xmas with Julia Bell? (have you realised she has quite a xmasy name)

And have you ALSO realised how xmas brings out the traditional/anal/conservativeness (is that a word?) in people? (By the school gates this week all I've been hearing is: "MY Xmas has to done this way...bladebla" No flexibility or change, thank you very much.)

ENJOY JJ and write write write...

JJ said...

Oh buggeration, I've just lost my post.

You are lovely women and right, mostly a women disease but not even that exclusively. I really do have to learn to say no... or I have to learn to keep my mouth shut! I'll check my diary is a good approach.

I am thinking of stepping down as webmaster after christmas - I may volunteer to do the web assistant job which is unfilled... I do need a new year's resolution.

I had hoped to do the big article this week then be free to plot the novel so that I can write throughout the course, but I haven't done presents, etc, so really the week is gone.

Oh Pacha, I'm so excited too, but wanted to be prepared so that I don't waste the time with her... Oh well, back to work.


Carol and Chris said...

There has to be a happy balance between doing what others want and doing what you want. I've already told you that I'm going to re-evaluate what I'm doing next year cause I'm not getting the time to do what I actually want to.

If someone else has a problem that your not spending Christmas with your kids then it's THEIR problem not yours. (Who really cares what they think anyway!!). It's the best solution all round - your getting to do your writing course and the kids are getting to go to the UK and see the family. Everyone wins!!

So *blows raspberry* to those who are being all judgemental!!

C x

JJ said...

Thanks honey. Getting close to panicking today. Lots of deep breaths, and meditative gentle coaching to myself.

I must learn to ask for a brief next time: clear instructions.

I don't think anyone means to be judgemental, but it's how their response comes across, and of course I am nervous that everyone will be happy so occasionally I let myself be freaked out by their reaction.

Leigh said...

Oh, JJ. I am with you on this. Zinnia's right, it is a women's disease, but I think particularly a Mummy's disease. You get so used to not being able to do thing things that you want to do, because you are giving your all to the children, the husband, the home, the bloody school committee (or whatever), that you forget about yourself completely. It becomes a habit. Then, when there's something you actually want to do that is just for you, and that might even cost other people a little something, then you feel guilty. It's ridiculous.

Remember, it's your life too. You live it, girl. Stuff the nay-sayers. Clearly they don't have such conflicts in their lives, and thus are not even qualified to open their mouths.

Sorry, rant over.

Cathy said...

JJ, there is a huge difference between dumping your children on others in order to follow a selfish pursuit ( which you are so NOT doing) and encouraging your children to be independent and follow their own wishes. In being a good mother and allowing them to stretch their wings, you are also giving yourself some quality time. A win-win situation, surely?


Lane said...

Such great comments.

Learning to stay no and streamlining is one of the most honest things you can do.

I think the hard part is not immediately feeling selfish when we say 'no' to something. (at least it was for me) but it's not selfish of course. It's sensible and the world still turns if you're not on the PTA or whatever.

Your family are all doing exactly what they want this Christmas. It doesn't get much better than that. (The paperwork sounds a nightmare though) .

Gosh, there's so much to ponder about this but I need my dinner:-)

Deep breaths, don't panic. You'll soon be writing in Skyros:-)


Jen said...

I've always really admired people who can actually say 'no'. It's a definite life skill.

I spent last Christmas without my boys and you know what? They didn't even remember! There was me thinking they'd be scarred for life or whatever. You're right: happy mummy = happy family.

Teaching your kids to strive for their dreams is one of the best things you can teach them and you're setting a fantastic example.

I'm really proud of you X

Mel said...

I completely agree with all comments! Not only are you a very cool mum raising culturally aware kids and allowing them freedom to grow as individuals (rather than oppressive overseers "I am adult, you are child") you are following your own dreams too which sadly most people don't do. The ones who don't follow their dreams and get bitter about it are the first ones to come down on those who do. Everyone in your fam is happy so don't worry about people who don't get it!

Caroline said...

Your children are happy and you're happy - perfect! And I have no doubt that they'll manage double Chritmas celebrations :)

Follow your heart and follow your dreams.
Life's too short for 'what ifs.'


A good mother is one who sets example for her children and shows them that life is about being true to themselves.

I, for one, will be raising a glass to you this Christmas.


JJ said...

Ahhhh you've all made me cry...

Thank you for your kind and supportive words.