There is so much tumbling around in my brain that I don't know where to begin. First, this neglected blog. I am considering shutting it down, though I honestly don't know how. I remember starting it all those years ago in 2006 (wasn't that only last year?). I was excited and scared. Who was I to think I could have my own blog? Now I look at that woman and say to myself, who was that person? I've moved forward, which is a great feeling. Now I need to stop asking, who am I to think I can write books, get an agent, have my books published? To that end, I am slowly laying the groundwork for a professional writer's site, including a professional blog. The blog is where I'll start, since I have yet to be published. This is mortifying to admit, but I have yet to actually SUBMIT anything I've written. So I guess that 2006 woman is still living still, in this almost-2013 body. So is my ten-year-old self, full of yearning, and my fourteen-year-old self, full of anticipation and new power. And there is still the twenty-year-old party girl in there and also the twenty-two-year-old adventurer, chomping at the bit.
This morning I remembered the past self who was unable to effectively manage her time. She was the forty-three-year old me. Forty-three was when I decided I'd change my way of being loose in the world. Not really planning my weeks, my days, not having a plan for my life wasn't working for me any more with two kids, with a baby again--though he was really a baby-toddler when we brought him home. A boddler? Anyway, he was already nearly on the run, getting into everything, demanding EVERYTHING. Such a precious, adorable child whom I could not appreciate, because I was blindsided by feelings of being completely overwhelmed. I will always be full of sorrow for both Han and me during those first couple of years. This morning I woke after one of those wonderful, long, rare uninterrupted sleeps and I heard the familiar soft pad, pad, pad of feet on stairs. "Snuggle with me, please, Mommmy!" he pleaded, even though it was after seven and past time to get up. Because my time management issues aren't completely gone, I got back in bed with him and we did snuggle for a few minutes. Man, oh man, do I love that boy now. It took a long time, but he has grown my heart sooo big! (Thanks, Theodore Geisel, for the Grinchly visual.) There is a book in there, something about the boy with three mommies, and it will come when it's ready. But anyway, my being overwhelmed thing that got in the way of the growing the heart thing? It was partly a lack of time management and general organization.
So move from that tender, loving moment to 8:21 today and I was using my voice as a deadly weapon against my daughter, who had once again left a major school project to the very last minute. It's due today, and Tuesday we parents got a reminder about the deadline from her teacher in the weekly letter. Iona's chosen deliverable is a PowerPoint defining most of the Greek gods and goddesses. Okay, she had done some drawings, ready to scan except they were in light pencil, which required some serious Photoshop level-setting by yours truly. Okay, it took a couple hours, but I did it and Iona was effusively grateful, through all my grumbling about how we were NEVER, NEVER, NEVER waiting 'til the la-hast minute. (Thanks, Taylor Swift, for the song now running through my head without mercy.) Okay, so she got pretty much right on it again yesterday after school. I grumbled about how was she going to do a PowerPoint when she had never used it before, and it had to all be done in one night, and I struggled with whether or not I should put together a template for her. Was this overstepping bounds of letting her do her own work? I decided it was, yes. So I gave her a few PowerPointers and set her loose, occasionally helping out if she got stuck.
The thing is, she did it. Not only did she teach herself how to do those cool (horrible! awful!) transitions between slides, she completely changed the template and made all her own design decisions. My daughter taught herself how to use PowerPoint in about two hours. "You know how Dad does all those charts?" she said to me. "That's right here. I bet I could do charts."
The thing she didn't do was put the finished presentation on the flash drive until 8:21 this morning, and then the flash drive didn't work, and her hair wasn't brushed and neither were her teeth, and I saw the big glaring evidence that through genetics and behavioral modeling I had passed my Big, Ugly Flaw on to her. Being organized matters in today's world, because if you're not, even if you're talented and smart, you'll never produce anything and get it out in the world if you can't lay out the tasks and meet the deadlines, or just FINISH SOMETHING. You'll never be able to make a living. And here's where the circle goes round and round like those wheels on the bus Han is always singing about. And who was I really yelling at? I know who.
I apologized to both kids for polluting the morning with my mad yelling, but I knew it could have been worse. I've been worse. And while Iona looked a little wan and her eyes were a little pink around the edges when I sent her off to fifth grade with her late slip, she's got to be very aware that she's a bit of a genius for conquering PowerPoint and the Gods and Goddesses, because I told her that too. But honey, pulling things out at the last minute is not a lifelong recipe for success. So learn it now.
And the question is, does that ever work? Do we ever learn life lessons because someone tells us to? Or do we learn them when we're ready, or when the choice is so clear as to be like a gun to our head?