Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Calendars with Pencil Smears
When I was in my 20's and even my 30's, I thought there would come a day when I'd be an empty-nester. That would mean clear white spaces on my calendar. Maybe lunch with a friend, or the garden club, or book discussion group. No carpools, or parent-teacher conferences. No shopping for a homecoming dress, or three basketball games this week, orthodontist appointments, or setting aside all of Saturday to find a swimsuit you and your daughter can live with. Surely, when all of that had run it's course the calendar would be empty except for the fluff of life.

I was wrong about the white spaces, or lack there, or actually the whole empty-nest thing. The older I get, the more often I'm wrong, about many things. My calendar doesn't have big white spaces, what it does have is appointments that I chose to put there, that are mostly about me, and sometimes my husband or one of the four-leggeds that choose our sofa to shed on. Once in awhile someone will ask me to talk on organization, time management, priorities, not because I'm a pro at it, but because I've read more nerdy books on it that anyone else I know, I look normal and am willing to get up in front of a group and talk about it.

My first piece of advice is - keep one calendar. Only you write on the calendar. And only in pencil. Because calendars have a way of changing, or rather lives do. Whatever we put on them, last week or last month or last year, sometimes at the last minute things change radically and you find yourself erasing like crazy, re-scheduling all those appointments. Sometimes life gets in the way of whatever you'd oh so carefully scheduled six months out. Seriously, who really knows if you can make a dentist appointment six months from now? Or pop in for a mammogram in a year?

There's a sweet little family 1200 miles south of me, and they could use a bit of help. Really, they just need someone who has the time to stay at their house all day and isn't on crutches and can push the gas pedal of the car. And has a bit of experience changing diapers, cooking, playing Go Fish or Clue and reading bedtime stories, or playing under tents in the backyard. They don't need an organizational guru, just an extra set of hands, so the Daddy of the family can actually go to work, instead of staying home doing all the above.

So I got out my eraser, picked up the phone, and started re-arranging. Re-scheduled, found substitutes, flat out cancelled, did the laundry, bought some groceries for hubby, and put some kid-friendly clothes in a suitcase, and I'm off. Nine days from now I'll fly back home, see what's penciled in my calendar, go through the mail, buy some groceries, get the laundry caught up, and slide back into my life here.

I used to think the Empty Nest stage would be so simple, you could write on your calendar in pen. Things wouldn't change, life would be orderly and organized all the time. When my husband was visiting his 95 year old mother two weeks ago, at the assisted living facility where she lives, he overheard one of her tablemates say, "it's not the getting old I mind, it's never doing anything important, we don't contribute anymore. I hate not being needed by anybody."

Thank you God for being needed, for still being able to lend a hand. For still needing to write in my calendar with pencil instead of pen. Life is not made of a calendar with big white spaces, it's made up of one that has pencil smears here and there, messy erasures, so we can write in really important stuff like dropping everything to help, and the blessing of still being needed. Thank you too God, for a husband who's willing to let me leave him behind, to cook for himself, take care of all these crazy animals, swiffer everyday, and try not to run out of socks, since you know God, he doesn't have a clue how to run the washing machine. Just like the loaves and fishes, if you could stretch those clean white socks, we'd both be grateful.

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  posted at 7:33 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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