Around Here Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

After spending over a decade in law enforcement, victim services and social work, we circled the wagons and brought our kids home from public school. Now, we are on year five. After the first years, we learned to lay to rest all of those good intentions of facilitating unrealistic goals of growth, having tri-lingual kids, and raising prodigal children. We now focus on strong vitals and an education that stands just above 3rd world countries.

Frankly, our boys live like college freshman – stay up late, sleep late and cram like it’s their job. Yes, we have the same 24 hour day as the rest of you, but the mental exhaustion of homeschooling puts that productivity at around 4 hours a day. By the time I do my own jobs, home school and some typical chores, I am mentally done. So, I add wine to the equation and gain a few more hours of productivity.

What do I do with this 2nd wind, you might ask? Mostly, I curl up with a book and ignore all types of responsibilities for a couple more hours. What are my boys doing during this sacred time? They are enjoying endless amounts of technology – YouTube, Xbox, Ipads, TV, etc. Why? Because it keeps them quiet. Because it keeps their vitals strong. Because it protects my sanity.

My boys often ask if we are normal and I say, “Yes!” with resounding confidence. I explain to them that they belong to an internationally, renowned private home school program, I somehow manage to work enough to contribute to my part of the household bills and 80% of our food budget goes to home-cooked food! Did I mention the strong vitals?? We are good, I say!

What’s ‘normal’ anyway. Around Here Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer.

MY NEW TITLE:  HAND GRENADE SPECIALIST

Please help me welcome my very, very, very first Guest Blogger! She is just trying to survive!

MY NEW TITLE:  HAND GRENADE SPECIALIST

How I Got It and How I Plan To Get Rid Of It

By Christina Ruhl

I was sitting at my desk a few days ago, looking discouraged at the numerous piles and general disarray.  Feeling pressure to put out another fire, I had to move paperwork and unopened mail to sit and get to my laptop keyboard which created yet another pile.  This pile went on the floor!  I finished handling the current emergency and still, surprisingly didn’t feel better.  Why?  Starring out the window, trying to decide what to do next, it began to occur to me that my life had become a series of emergencies.  Sometimes there were several in a day!  In the past, I would have referred to them as fire drills but now it felt different.  Lately, it feels more as if I am on the moving track of a carnival game with someone throwing a softball at me…then a picture came to my mind of me sitting and people lofting hand grenades at me and then in a panic I am desperately trying to find the pin!  One after another, after another just as I find the pin and put it in, here comes another one.  I am a hand grenade specialist.  This is no way to live, for me or my family.

I kept hearing the line from the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime; Well, how did I get here?”  Part of it was just life circumstances.  Totally out of my control and I was just trying to do the best I could for my family.  For a year and a half I was working two part time jobs in retail, between late October and New Years it was more full time hours.  Between that and the normal Mom/Wife duties I was just triaging on a daily, even hourly basis.  I could blame it on just that, but that wouldn’t be an honest assessment.  Years ago, as a new Mom, I not only wanted to be involved but also help others.  Still today I find so much joy out of helping people.  The thing I didn’t realize, until I took a step back and looked hard at the situation, some of the people I was helping became grenade launchers.  They got comfortable with me catching their grenades and just expected I would without care for the timing or difficulty.

Here’s the real question, do I want this title?  It does give me a sense of being needed but that is far outweighed by the stress it gives me and my family.  The easy answer is No.  Okay, so how do I get rid of it?  Now, the hard work begins.  I have decided to take an almost microscopic look at my life, specifically the grenades that I handle. As each grenade comes, assessing:

Is this truly important for me to handle?

Would it be better if I let the launcher handle it?

Does the person I handle the grenade for appreciate it or are they taking advantage of me?

What could I be doing instead and does that have more value to me and my family?

The hard work begins today.  I started training a woman to take over a large volunteer position I held for the past 2 ½ years.  She was enthusiastic but despite the time I was taking to go through the process with her, she continued to try to throw (a grenade) more work back on me to simplify the training for her.  For example, I was showing her step by step how to go through a part of the job.  About ¾ of the way through she says, “You’re going to write all these steps down for me, right?”  My response usually would have been something like, of course I will.  But today I swatted that grenade away and said as nicely as I could, “Well, I think this would be a good time for you to jot down things so that it will best help you remember the process.”  It wasn’t easy but I did it!  It’s a small victory but I feel the more of these I have, the easier it will be to get rid of my title.

Finally, I have decided to keep a diary as I go through this process.  It will give me a reference of my achievements and stumbles along the way.  My ultimate goal is achieving a balance in my life of giving to those that I love without giving my sanity.  I’ll let you know how it goes…