Saturday, October 29, 2011

That 5%

Yesterday I got home from a doctor's appointment shortly after 2pm and promptly checked our voice mail. There was a message from one of the moms of a child in my daughter's class. She was calling to apologize that she wouldn't be able to make it to help at the class party today because her sitter for her younger children didn't show. When I heard her message I stopped breathing. I was the snack mom for the class party and had thought it was on Monday, not Friday, today. And it started at 1:50pm, which meant that there were 24 kids at a party with no cookies to frost. No sprinkles to sprinkle, no sugar rush. I almost got sick and felt dizzy, like I may pass out. But I managed to make my way to my computer and pull up the email from the mom organizing the party to see when it was scheduled. And it was occurring...on Monday. I was beyond relieved. For that brief period of time I thought I had screwed up epically.

I am a very organized and efficient person. I can easily manage a ton of data, to do lists, projects, sew halloween costumes, all without breaking a sweat. I always have a million balls in the air that I am juggling but due to my OCD, neurotic control-freak type A personality I have things completely under control. About 95% of the time. It's that other 5% where I drop the ball. And unfortunately it tends to be in a spectacular fashion. A situation this past summer was relatively mild. After having my mother-in-law come home from work early so she could pick my daughter up from camp so I could take my son to his annual check up only to find out the appointment was for the following Monday at 4:15, not this Monday. So I had to recreate the fine orchestration of transportation a second time. One of my husband's favorites was the time we arrived at the airport ready to fly out to visit relatives in Seattle with kids in tow and their millions of pounds of gear only to attempt to check in for our flight and not have our reservation located. Because we were at the wrong airport. And then there was the time I accidentally paid the mortgage twice in one month. Which isn't a bad thing per se, except there were other bills that needed that money.

So I was feeling really lucky that I dodged the bullet with my daughter's party. What a huge relief, that would have been a fiasco. Because, really, with everything I have going on and the lack of sleep and non-stop craziness I was certainly due a debacle. And of course eventually I had one. Because the percentages weren't in my favor. I was overdue for my 5%.

For the past three years I have run a large fundraiser for my children's schools. It involves a tremendous amount of data and organization. And because I am an OCD, neurotic control freak type A personality I am not content to use the ho hum materials that are provided to me by the product company. Oh no, that would be too easy. So instead I recreate the instructions order form and price list to my higher standards. Like anyone cares. But I care. Last year was a near disaster when I was halfway through stuffing the packets that were to go home to the families with my beautiful flyer when I realized I had typed the due date incorrectly. So I had to make 800 more copies and re-stuff a few hundred packets. Crisis averted. I certainly wasn't going to let that happen again so I checked and rechecked the flyer for this year before I made those copies. And so all 820 fundraiser packets went out on Friday and I was feeling happy to have it done. Until I got the email.

A friend of mine sent me a message. She was confused because there were some items in the glossy product brochure but they weren't listed on my order form / price list. It took about two whole minutes before it finally dawned on me. Holy crap, I had sent out my beautiful brochure and all 820 packets with the price list and order form...from last year.

I'm not going to lie to you, I didn't just shrug my shoulders, have a glass of wine and figure I would deal with it on Monday. Because that's not how I roll. I freaked. There were a few tears. I may have actually hyperventilated. And once I got my wits about me I immediately texted my friend in a panic. And she texted me off the ledge. And another friend was willing and able to help me with my new brochure and a third friend helped me get my email blast out with the corrections. All at 8pm on a Friday night. And later that night yet another friend sent a kind note of condolence and support. And this is why I love my friends. Because they put up with the OCD, neurotic control freak type A personality that I am 95% of the time, and are there to help me recover from the epic fails for that other 5%. Thanks guys.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Everyday grace

Last Saturday I was at my son's soccer game when the husband of a friend of mine came by handing out flyers. He was holding a fundraiser at a local restaurant to raise money for St. Jude's, of which he was running the Marine Corps Marathon for on October 29th. My Marine Corps Marathon. What was most remarkable about this encounter was that I had no idea he was running the marathon. I had run into my friend just last week. It was the first time I had seen her since the summer and we talked extensively about my injury and disappointment over not being able to run and the hard work I had put in training for the marathon before everything fell apart. And my friend didn't mention her husband's training. Not once.

Did she just forget to mention it because it had slipped her mind? Or that it was no big deal? Highly unlikely, they have six children, including two year old twins. I am thinking that his time-consuming marathon training had a tremendous impact on the family schedule and there wasn't a day that went by where she wasn't painfully aware of the time it took for him to train. Was I miffed that she didn't tell me? No, I am in awe at her graciousness. Instead of telling me how excited he was that race day was almost here she focused on me. She didn't patronize me and say there would be other marathons. She didn't say how sorry she felt for me. She simply acknowledged my disappointment and the loss of something so important to me as running. And the psychological impact I was feeling. And assured me that even though a return to running at that distance seemed impossible I would get there. As a fellow runner she understood perfectly. And rather than having to fight the urge to tear up and put on a brave face like I do with most people who express their condolences about my loss I felt at peace. I am thankful to her not only for making me feel better about my situation, but for providing such a wonderful example of everyday grace.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You do what?

Last year my youngest child started full day kindergarten. Prior to that he was in a preschool that took me 20 minutes to drive to and the hours were only 9:15am until noon. And it didn't meet every day most weeks. In other words, I had very little free time, and what I did have was usually spent grocery shopping, doctor or dental appointments, and trying to fit in some exercise. So I started developing a list of things I wanted to do when I finally had more than 15 minutes a day to myself. Of course, at the time I had no idea of the secret that many moms of kids in school full time already knew - that once your youngest goes off to school you realize you do not have any more time than you did before. It is all taken up by the same things you did when they were home, except they aren't there to keep you company. Things like laundry, waiting for the guy to repair the washing machine, more laundry, going around to 10 different stores trying to find the stupid light fixture with the odd sized bulbs that seemed so cool when you bought the house, more laundry. Nevertheless, I had dreams.

One of my goals was to learn to play tennis. The last time I had played tennis was a class in high school that I had to drop out of because I had injured my back playing soccer. And for over 20 years I hadn't had the desire to touch a racket. But for some reason I decided I wanted to play. And so I did, I took tennis lessons in the fall and in the spring last year, and would have taken them again this fall if not for my leg injury. I enjoy playing tennis. I'm not super good at it, but it's fun and I hope to continue. Of course it would probably help if I could get over my anxiety of playing actual opponents in a real game instead of with my tennis instructor, but these are minor details.

Another goal was that I wanted to run a marathon. Sadly, due to my injury this summer that goal is on hold. Once my leg is finally healed I may revisit that goal, or I may need to alter it. Only time will tell.

My third goal was to learn how to sew. I had taken home economics back in middle school and managed to make a mediocre apron. When I was in my late 20s and we bought our first house my mother-in-law attempted to teach me how to make throw pillows. They came out lopsided. My daughter had made comments to me on more than one occasion about my lack of sewing ability. I didn't aspire to be on Project Runway, but it was a matter of redeeming myself. And maybe being able to hem some pants.

I took Sewing I at the local fabric store last spring. It was a six week course and during the second class we learned how to use the sewing machine. Once I put my foot on that peddle and heard the rhythmic sound of the needle going up and down I was hooked. It was so soothing, so relaxing, so therapeutic. I went home and told my husband we were buying a sewing machine. He just rolled his eyes so I took that as a yes and went out and bought one.

I loved Sewing I, where I learned to sew a tote bag and pajama pants so I moved onto Sewing II where I learned to sew a skirt with a zipper. I sewed lots of tote bags and pajama pants at home for my husband and kids. But then summer came and there was no time for sewing so the sewing machine sat forlorn and neglected. I figured I would return to sewing in the winter, after the marathon was over. But then I got injured at the end of July.

At first the injury seemed a small obstacle. By the time August was over and I was still unable to run it became clear that I couldn't do the marathon. I couldn't even participate in the local 5k fun run. I was despondent. And grumpy and emotional and restless. I didn't know what to do with myself. Especially since the injury prevented me from all other physical activity that could take the place of running. But to be honest, nothing can take the place of running so even if I were able I'm not sure I would have been interested.

But then one day I was at the fabric store because I needed a replacement button. They had out a big display of Halloween costume patterns. I had the idea that I would sew my daughter's costume this year. She wanted to be a queen, and they had a beautiful elaborate costume pattern for the perfect dress. This would be my fall project that would distract me from being unable to run. This is where I would channel my energy and time.

After the initial high of my decision wore off I realized I had no clue how to sew this pattern. It was way out of my league. Luckily for me, my previous sewing instructor is a wonderful woman who was very flexible. I asked her if I could sign up for another class but do my own project so she could guide me. Problem solved. I would sew the costume, have a positive outlet, and save some money to boot.

Here is what I have learned. First and foremost, sewing a costume yourself does not save you money. In fact, if you are like me and MUST have that beautiful fabric, or even the middle-of-the-road fabric once you calculate the cost of the beautiful fabric, it will cost you several times over what you would spend on several high-end Pottery Barn Kids costumes. I could have bought her a half dozen queen costumes for the price of this dress.

Secondly, I learned that sewing this costume takes a lot of time. Time I don't have. Running only took up an hour of my day and then I was done. And I didn't even run every day. Sewing the costume takes several hours of my day, that I attempt to squeeze in in between physical therapy and doctor's appointments along with everything else. Like the laundry.

And finally, I discovered that people think I am nuts. In my previous pursuit, when I mentioned training for the marathon the reactions I received ranged from disbelief to admiration. Mostly people said they were glad it wasn't them. I got a lot of good for yous. When I mention sewing people always ask *why*? As though they have wracked their brains and couldn't come up with a single hobby they would like to take up less. As though I had committed a crime and this was my punishment. Because why else would someone take this on? For some reason sewing has a bad rap. Perhaps to a large extent because it is somewhat irrelevant in our times. It would be a lot cheaper to buy this costume at Target. Just like it would be a lot cheaper to buy my tote bags, pajama pants or the skirt I made at Macys. And it is time consuming, and painstaking in the detail. Yet somehow it has been extremely rewarding. And when I see my daughter's face light up as I show her the latest progress I have made on her costume I know that sewing will be a part of my life even after I am back running again.