The Final Countdown

 

Do you find countdowns a suck? I do.

The wild abandon and excitement of 71 has whittled down to a slim 35 with a deathly pallor. There’s no going back now, and each day when I get up the number on my phone is slightly smaller.

I am going overseas for the first time. By myself. Leaving my family alone for two weeks.

35. That’s five weeks, or thereabouts. Two fortnights and a bit more. Two more grocery days for me to sequester all those essential goodies at the back of the pantry, because you-never-know. Only one more work cycle before the one I need to start training up my replacement, and making sure he knows all the stuff I keep in my head and don’t even notice that I think about.

I need to write lists. 35 days is definitely the time that lists should be written, although perhaps a brain transplant would be much easier. I never thought before about how much I know, or how valuable that knowledge is to people who may not have it. It makes me feel…valuable. Lunches. What to make. How to make them. Who’s going to complain. What to tell them. Make sure to do the washing. How to peg the socks. (Where to find the socks). What the kids should eat. What the kids shouldn’t eat. What the kids will tell you they want to eat and is actually sequestered at the back of the pantry but shouldn’t be eaten in combination with certain other things.

When to go to swimming lessons. Where to go to violin lessons. How to pack for singing lessons (scooters are a must, although no longer essential for violin). Where the kids are. How much it costs to put them there. Wash. How to peg socks. Wash. Wash kids. Make sure they wash their hair, because they’ll tell you they don’t need to. Lunches. Wash. Peg socks.

I don’t do that much. Not really. (Wash. Clean floor. Wash floor. Peg socks. Fold washing. Lunch.) I’m a stay-at-home Mum with a little part-time-job (oh it’s a work-week. Pack boxes. Report data to boss in Sydney. Take a trip to the recycling centre. Wash. Peg socks) and some days my worst problems are I’m lonely and spending too much time on Facebook, or there are no clean socks. Governments don’t rise and fall on my say-so. The world will not end if I shuffled off to the USA (in 35 measly days), and life will indeed continue, close up around my absence and heal in the space of a trip to MacDonalds for breakfast, and maybe a few tears at bedtime.

But…and here’s the thing…knowing that I’m going, knowing that I need to write lists, and find the time to record this knowledge, knowing that things will go so much more smoothly if I can and do record this stuff in my head, that makes the stuff in my head feel valuable after all. It makes ME feel valuable. Not a world-changer, perhaps, but a sock-washer and people-motivator, an organizer of things that need to be organized.

I never thought I was good at that stuff. Not, that is, until now. I’ve always compared myself to people who seem to do it better, with greater ease, and I’ve somehow forgotten that my own contribution is not only just as good but, to my little family, crucial.

35 days. Tomorrow it will be 34, and on Saturday, 32. I must get onto those lists.

How about you? Have there been things in your life that you hadn’t realized their value until you lost them? Or things you never believed you were good at until you realized that some people are really, really bad at them? I hope you see yourself as valuable today. You deserve to, my friend.

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11 thoughts on “The Final Countdown

  1. Zeesh! And I thought I was stressing about five days away in QLD. 🙂 Lists. Organisation. Neither of these are strengths my hubby possesses. I suspect my kids will live on take away, stay up too late, wear unwashed school uniforms – or worse, they might not even make it to school.

    • LOL! And we just need to let that go and accept it. I’m the same. I know things won’t be anywhere near as clean as I’d like them to be when I get back, and my kids may well be slightly feral from eating all the wrong things. But I’m going, and I will have fun, and that’s that.
      Have an AWESOME time in Qld! I’m loving your book by the way 🙂

  2. You are extremely valuable Megan, You are valuable, your blogs are valuable, your knowledge is valuable, your skills are valuable and a valuable friend.
    And I’m sure there is someone else counting down the days at your house, but they are different days……
    Bet you, your man has the exact number of days on hand till you get back and is missing you before you have even gone, not to mention how much the kids and all your friends will miss you too.
    Funny how we are always counting down to things….. , Madeleine will be 6 months old in 3 days, Christmas is in 11 weeks etc. I’m learning though, that I need to remember to appreciate the lead up, the now moment, just as much as the destination otherwise I miss the 6 months it took to get to 6 months etc. Hope you enjoy the next 35 days and then the next 14 days away and then the months after you return.

    • Ack, I’ve been so slack in coming back to reply! Paula thank you so much. You are beautiful, my friend. MWAH!
      I know what you mean about not missing the moment in looking for the destination though – it’s a valuable lesson. Enjoy those months with your baby while she still is one xxx

  3. The trouble with lists is they are losable. So really you need duplicates…. Enjoy it all. Getting ready can be fun.b

  4. Maybe you need to hear one of my favorite memories of parenting. I had gone back to school after being a stay-at-home mom who knew everything and was the best at making sure everything was done right. I had to study so had sternly told the kids not to talk at me though the bedroom door. I later heard my husband tell the kids that he would take them out to buy boots because I had mentioned that they needed them. I panicked. What if he bought the wrong size, what if they didn’t match their jackets, what if… BUT I didn’t rush out of the room and he did just great. And I don’t remember if they matched their jackets. I guess it didn’t matter.
    But I also remember the panic of making sure everything was in order (and the house was clean) every time I left the family alone. Next week we are leaving for a month and there will be (don’t tell anyone) dust on the tables when I leave. I know because there is dust now and it isn’t on my list to dust. 🙂

    • HAHA!! I love that story Pat. I had to give up on controlling my kids’ clothes very VERY early, because both my eldest (particularly my girl) turned out to be super-opinionated. I remember sending her off with my Mum one day with some money and the instructions “just buy her shoes. Whichever ones she wants. I don’t care what they look like, Just Buy Shes She Will Wear!”
      Hope you have a WONDERFUL time on your holiday! Maybe you should add onto your list to draw a little doodle in some obscure place in the dust – just to make you smile when you come home 🙂

  5. “To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”

    I think all moms should leave now and again, just so their families don’t take them for granted. I hope you have an absolute ball of a trip and an even bigger ball of a homecoming.

    And you talk about lists? I could paper my bathroom with the lists I’ve made in the last 35 days. Going is so much work, isn’t it. Even, as in my case, when you’re going home.

    • You are so right in that. I think actually it’ll be a really good thing for my family to not have me round for a few weeks. They will learn all kinds of skills that they wouldn’t if I was there, no matter how hard I tried to teach them.
      Coming back will be interesting, learning to slot in again.
      All the best with your packing there too, my friend!

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