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Priorities... [Dec. 13th, 2009|12:45 pm]
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[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

One of the things I've become conscious of in recent months is my priorities. They haven't changed, I'm just aware of them now.

While my health and fitness has improved slowly but steadily since the stroke, I still have a fairly limited amount of spoons, and even when I'm doing well, it doesn't take much to steal them all if I'm not careful. I've been tending to beat myself up a bit for not getting things done, but then recently I realised how it is I work my limited resources.

Lex is my number one priority.
I'm sure this is no surprise, but because he is the top priority, it greatly affects everything else, including my interactions with him. I work my whole day around making sure I have enough in reserve to deal with him. That means I can actively resent people and things for trying to take my time or attention, because everything that does cuts into the limited energy I have, and I try to hold on to as much as that as I can for my child. No-one's needs are more important to me than his.

Put it like this - I eat breakfast every morning now. Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate breakfast. The very thought of food early in the day makes me feel ill. But every morning I choke down food, because otherwise I won't keep up with Lex's needs. Those needs include the indirect stuff like doing the washing and other chores.

Number two priority is me.
Because if I don't find time to rest, or eat, or chill for half an hour here or there*, I will have less energy left and have to start cutting into my reserves to deal with Lex. And I can't afford to do that because I never know when I'm going to need them because he's suddenly having a bad day due to teething, mood, or he's just plain ornery. Of course on low energy days/weeks, this means having to actually leave him in his cot for a while while I eat uninterupted, or putting up the temporary fence while I work on things, just so I can hold on to what I've got rather than using a fair chunk of my energy keeping him out of whatever it is I'm trying to do.

Keeping him separate from me on these things is usually the last ditch effort to save some energy, because I'm already run down. The level prior to that is me sleeping in the loungeroom at night, so he doesn't wake me by kicking the cot in his sleep. I wake easily, and if I get woken, I don't get back to sleep. And I seriously need sleep. So during the really rough times, I don't even get to share a bed with my wife. Which leads naturally to...

Number three priority is Sharon.
Sad to say, but there you go. She knows this and gets it, because Lex is her top priority, too. It's why Lex going to bed at night is such a nice thing, because then we can have a bit of time together... if we're not catching up on housework, Continuum work, etc. And even when constantly playing catch-up, we will end up with time together out of sheer exhaustion. Time together these days usually consists of sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream each and an episode of Q.I.

Poor Shaz, she works hard through the day and comes home to an energetic son and a husband that is usually like a piece of limp lettuce. And if I've had a bad day, or week, she ends up picking up my slack. That said, I'm usually the one who has the job of making her stop, telling her to go and read for a while, or whatever will give her a break. It's why I'm sending her to Swancon on her own, she'll have to place what she wants to do at the top of her list, because she won't be able to do anything for us.

When I'm doing okay, I make the time to cook her fresh gluten free bread. It's not much, but she appreciates it because that bread is only made for her, no-one else gets to eat it.

Number four is Mum.
Mum is actually one of the prime energy drainers in the house. Not equal to Lex, but not far behind either. She usually creates way more work and stress than she solves by being an extra set of hands for dealing with Lex or household chores. One of the reasons for this is the need from my end to try and keep her active. If mum had her way, she would lay in bed all day, never help do her own banking or shopping, etc.

And if she's not panicking about something tiny, she's forgetting to lock cupboards, or forgetting to do other things (or doing other things) that lead to Lex getting into moods or potentially trouble.

I get very tired of telling her to leave Lex alone when he's doing something harmless that he enjoys, because she's seen some issue or threat with it that means in stopping Lex she's going to frustrate him needlessly which will always lead to him screaming in frustration. Which I really don't need, especially when the problem only exists in mum's mind. Meanwhile, I get very, very tired of telling her to relock the fucking cupboards, which is the sort of thing that could be a genuine danger to my child. I have to constantly be aware of whether or not she's left something unlocked, and that awareness is a constant drain in and of itself. I feel like the first time I miss something, that's when Lex will get hurt, and I'll feel like it's my fault for not noticing.

Number five is all the other day to day stuff and Continuum stuff. Which is why my tax is still two years behind.

Number six is livejournal, socialising, people in general.
Most people drain the hell out of me. It's why I resent everyone! Because if they are taking my energy, it leaves less for Lex. And I will always resent that. Don't get me wrong, I like people, I just don't want my reserves whittled away. Those reserves belong to Lex. So I want to be the one choosing when I have time to expend on you. Please, feel free to contact me, or arrange to catch-up, and I'll take it from there. If it's a no this time, it may well be a huge joyous yes next time. I love all my friends, I just love my son more.

Now, despite the way this may have come across, I don't actually intend for this to be a whinge. I love my son, the limitations on my physical and mental energy I have to live with, and... well, the rest is just life. I'm actually very happy. Permanently tired, but happy. Permanently behind on everything, and annoyed about it, but accepting of it. There is more time for fun and joy than a post like this will indicate by its very nature. Hell, Lex is a daily joy, even when he's being a demanding little bastard! That's one of the bonuses of him being my top priority - I like the little guy, as well as love him, and one sweet funny moment makes up for a weeks worth of shit. :)

And while our lives would be much easier if mum weren't around, she's my mum and I love her, and Sharon and I both want her living with us for as long as possible because we know we won't let her give up and just not do anything.

And if we ever have a second child, we'll be even more exhausted, Sharon and I and everything else will slip another spot on the priorities list, but we'll still love our lives, our kids, our friends, and each other.

Between the yawns and the "oh god, this is late again!" moments.

* There are three main ways I chill. Travel, watching films/TV, or creative endeavours.
Travel is not that practical a chunk of the time for various reasons.
Generally I'm watching films and TV I don't care much about, because stuff I'm seriously interested in will drain me, hence not watching very much Doctor Who. That said, if I'm having a good day, I'll watch something worthwhile while I eat or chill, because a life where I watch nothing but bland soulless Hollywood remakes, and shows like Dollhouse, is not a life worth living.
I try to do a little bit of creative stuff every week, because otherwise I will go mad. Even if it's just sorting through photos, or doing a brief LJ post, if I can get one thing done here or there, just for myself, I won't wind up killing and eating my neighbours.

[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2009-12-13 01:59 am (UTC)
Now, despite the way this may have come across, I don't actually intend for this to be a whinge.

Nor did I read it as such. What you're saying makes perfect sense and sounds entirely reasonable to me.

I'll try to book the hotel room for Continuum soonish, promise!
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[User Picture]From: shazgirl
2009-12-13 02:58 am (UTC)
"Mum is actually one of the prime energy drainers in the house."
Oh God yes. Everything always becomes so much harder. Grocery shopping is so much harder with her. If I just took the money and a shopping list and did it all myself, it would be faster, cheaper and there would be much less crap food in the house. And I wouldn't hear her whinging and trying to get out of doing it. But, letting her stop doing things that keep her active and having to use her brain, even just by choosing food to cook is just the start of a downward slope.
I am terrified that she will cause Lex to get hurt. She panics and stops him doing things that aren't harmful (although sometimes noisy or messy) but won't keep plastic bags or medication out of reach. Which can KILL him! So now I have added making up her pill boxes to my list of tasks as it allows me to keep an eye on medication and make sure that it is all out of reach.
"Not equal to Lex, but not far behind either." Hmm, yes but with Lex we get more moments of joy and laughter to help balance it all out. Although to be fair, it's a bit harder for your Mum to give the same amount of joy. I am much less likely to think food smeared over the face is cute if Lola does it. :) Also, with some of Lex's behaviours it is easier to deal with because we know that he will grow older, mature and improve. This is not an approach that will work with Lola.
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[User Picture]From: pedanther
2009-12-13 04:05 am (UTC)
Even if it's just sorting through photos, or doing a brief LJ post, if I can get one thing done here or there, just for myself, I won't wind up killing and eating my neighbours.

Good, good. Danny, it's very important that you don't kill and eat your neighbours -- that would use up spoons that you might need for Lex!
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[User Picture]From: transcendancing
2009-12-13 04:08 am (UTC)

This was an awesome post - makes so much sense.

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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2009-12-13 07:43 am (UTC)
Icecream on and Stephen Fry sounds delightful.
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2009-12-13 10:56 am (UTC)
"And even when constantly playing catch-up"
yeah, that's how it is, isn't it! So I find myself reading livejournal at 10pm instead of being in bed asleep. Clara's back to sleeping well, but I'm so tired...

Is the spoons thing the one I told you about?

I think we both have a lot more spoons than we used to, but we also have more demands on them.

Re Sharon's work - I don't know what hers is like, but mine is a doddle compared to 24/7 Clara! Working while Clara is at daycare or with the Nanny is a holiday for me :)
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