Friday, September 15, 2006


Reading about the bag got me thinking about lists and getting prepared and organised. Actually I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Thinking there was a time in my life when I was very organised, and being organised gave me great pleasure. I loved lists and organisational systems and planning, and revising all of the above. Can I admit to alphabetising my books? To colour coding my filing system? To collecting uniform screw top jars for my pantry over decades? You get the idea. Scary stuff.

It's easy to blame the demise of the organised life on the birth of a child, it's certainly been a serious kick in the pants for me in that regard, but there have been other things which have contributed to the erosion of my managed self. In hindsight I think that packed bag, returning home so largely unpacked, was a watershed. It made me realise how much of life (especially my new babied life) was nothing like I expected. How much of the energy and time I spent planning that bag and it's contents was lost, and for no good reason. How planning was no longer going to insulate me from the unknown.

I've always held that planning was worthwhile because the time spent getting it right upfront paid off over the long term. How much easier is life when you can locate your keys/favourite socks/coordinating fabrics without switching the lights on, when your christmas presents are wrapped before you even start thinking about the menu planning, how much anxiety is dissipated by knowing you aren't going to be caught out? But when the planning no longer pays off, what is the rationale for doing it, especially when there are always so many other pressing drains on your time? What happens when the planning (or lack thereof) becomes more anxiety provoking that simply dealing with the shit as it happens?

Don't get me wrong here, I didn't change personality overnight. I didn't lose my love of the list, or stop using them. I haven't given up my various organising systems. But increasingly I recognise that I do little mental calculations about where I can save time and putting things in their proper place, even devising where that proper place might be just doesn't make the cut. On those days I find myself up to my elbows in piles of junk, or realise that I can't find the stash of children's hairclips I bought Amy 6 months ago I feel a real and abiding sadness. I miss a clean bedroom floor from the days when I didn't just drop into bed barely able to get the clothes off me, forget the use of a hanger, for days on end. I miss the order and neatness, the calm and the sense of command.

But I also think I am quite possibly a happier person by balance. Despite those moments of sadness I care less about the things I can't control, about the expectations not met, about the plans dashed to the ground. And I celebrate the inventiveness and excitement of life managed on the fly. Of worrying less about being ready for the future than missing out on the now. I know a new baby will put this all to the test. Balancing the needs of a pre-schooler with the immediacy of an infant will require more forethought. How do you go with the flow if it's flowing in more than one direction? And how will I deal with the further erosion of what I feel to be an integral part of who I am, of how I like things to be, of what soothes and comforts me?

And straight after the hospital bag comes that other mother of all bags - the nappy bag. This post has already gone on too long, but there's another whole post in the nappy bag, about how you build and maintain it, about whether its a parent thing or a mummy thing, about when you travel light and when you wing it...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great post. i am struggling with what to put on the "back burner" My mind races with new ideas. Pens sit in their holders. fabric lay in the same spot. Great papers collects dust and fabulous camera waits in its bag. I have a spot inside that is always sort of sad..unspoken.
i have three great kids, went to part time and yet still can't get organised. Dogs need walking, floors are covered daily in dog hair, bathrooms never seem to be clean enough..wash, calls, errands, sports and keeping up with friends.
I visulize tossing the cell phone off a dock in the middle of a lake (although i would'nt because it would pollute)..but the act of tossing it. I fantasize about selling everything and starting over, just wearing white t shirts and jeans only, and having a couple acres to sit on. The house would have a small amount of comfy furniture..cupboards with only what is needed. Cleaning would take a few hours to make the whole place fresh.
i want to paint today..but nothing else is done. Am i A.D.D?
Do I lack confidence? Guilt, trying to focus on what is children and family..but I seem to be learning slowly at 47, that if i don't take care of my needs and myself first, it rubs off on them. It is great I realize it, but how can i really change and make my life happen..become alive again?
Maybe i need to say "NO" everyone. I am a "yes" person. "yes" I will help.."yes" i will drive one way..yes yes yes...
"yes" gets me nothing sometimes..I never say no. "NO" I am going to paint today..or "NO" I am off taking seems around here that is not a good enough excuse. Today I am going to make it one. Maybe tell my family what I am telling you. Maybe they need to hear this. they might be happy..they might be encouraging. i need to see it in a new light..take a new path.
Today i am going to try a bit of cleaning..then do some painting (but my office is such a mess) see what happens? Do it on the deck? it is a beautiful day.
It is this daily conflict of thought, that depresses me. It is this, where i feel like I never accomplish anything. I am bored and tired..I call myself an artist, but I never do it as much as i want or could..why? I seem to go in circles. i wish someone could take my hand, and show me. How do people do it all? Where did I learn this? Is it my age? From my Mother? (I am jumping around in this little square of words)
OK here's the deal...
Today is a new day...a new road...this important..when I was a parents said that once I went to the mirror at age 3..stared at myself for a long time and said outloud.."I LIKE ME"..I want to feel that way again..
Thanks for listening.
nan bee

1:47 am  
Anonymous Ash said...

I abandoned the nappy bag with my second child. Boobs, a single nappy and a mini-pack of wipes and that was it. Nothing else. It was wonderful.

9:09 pm  
Anonymous Alison said...

I'm with Ash. Nappy Bag? Never had one, never wanted one. I had a cloth change mat, 2 nappies and a travel pack of wipes and it all rolled up neatly inside the mat and tucked into a small lightweight bag I used as my handbag. Even though I bottle fed (and that's an entirely different post altogether) I still got a couple of bottles in there, and some formula, my wallet, phone plus a million other things and the bag was no bigger than 20cm x 20cm. I've never really understood large nappy bags slung over strollers.....

6:37 am  
Blogger sooz said...

OK the nappy bag. If your child is a projective vomiter, like Amy was, the bag also includes at least two full changes of clothes for her and one for me (although on more than one occasion I wished it was 2!) and a half dozen cloth nappies for mopping. No I kid you not. If your child has chronic nappy rash and/or eczema (Amy's best friend) it also includes moisutriser and nappy rash cream. And breast pads for copious leakers (hello there!) and Lansinoh for cracked nipples and not too long into things it also included sipper cups and copious snacks - for Amy and her friends.

When I was preggers I bought a lovely designer nappy bag (converts post baby to a nice tote) but I realised not long after Amy was born that it didn't fit into the bottom of the pusher easily, so yes I abandoned it too. But one of the problems with chucking everything in my handbag was that it meant I was always the one responsible for remembering everything. I came to envy those who had an organised nappy bag they could easily pass to a substitute carer, and which they could reasonably expect a husband or partner to share responsibility for keeping well stocked. They didn't have to think prior to every trip what they needed to take, or kind themselves mid bus ride, covered in vomit with no mopper uppers.

So I never did it like that, never took a change mat (double duty for a mopper upper) or a big tote, but I tell you I am seriously considering a tailor made for this time around.

2:34 pm  

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