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.