I have not yet mastered the art of letting go of the things I cannot control. If anything, I have become more anxious, or at least I am conscious of my anxiety, or there are more things to be anxious about. Or less things that I can control.
For example, when applying for jobs, I worry about what if this one calls me before that, will I accept, but what if? Which is all pointless because a) noone calls b) if they call, would it have done me any good to be worrying about all the possibilities and permutations and combinations before the fact. To be fair, I worry about these things because I want to figure out whether to apply at all. Why apply, if I won’t accept. But I only won’t accept if a number of other things fall into place, which I have no way of predicting. So.
I have always said that having kids is an exercise in losing control. This feeling of basically having to let go and go with the flow (even if the flow is basically getting no sleep, or having to sling your baby and carry her around 24/7 because she will not be put down. The alternative is to run from pillar to posts for solutions that basically stop being relevant just when you found them because the baby has moved on to a new problem). I never quite got the hang of this loss of control or at least, I never got over the resentment of having to lose control, but thankfully, the babies grew up, and gave in to a modicum of a routine. Of course, modicum is the operative word.
My kids are older, but they are unpredictable. One of the unpredictable things is there health. Last year, Nene has been sick one every month, if not more. He basically has a permanent stuffy nose (like allergies, but to what we don’t know, likely the air which we have no control over and I do not possess a husband who believes in the expat solutions of air purifier, special cleaning of aircon with tea tree oil, what not), which at some point degenerates into a bacterial infection/tonsilitis. Mimi’s health has been pretty robust – being around a sick brother notwithstanding – but occasionally she falls sick too. And then, there’s me. So there are three variables that cannot be controlled, and doctors visits and care etc which all takes time, which in between trying to finish writing a dissertation and apply to jobs and write a proposal for a postdoc that will anyway not consider me (and which now is not posting the recruitment ad eveb) and prepping for the poorly paid jobs I’ve been offered, is time I barely have. Even with hired help at home.
I am sorry to say that the time before last that Nene fell sick I collapsed into a blubbering mass because I just did not have the time to take him to the doctor. Again. Then I felt guilty about that.
But today I did better. Today when each of my children complained of some ailment that would require a trip to two separate doctors, requiring me yet again to reschedule my carefully laid plans for the day, I took a deep breath and went with it. Sequenced the events in my head – prep helper to get appointment for local pediatrician in case ENT for Mimi doesn’t work out, call ENT on repeat in the morning and request afternoon appointment so I do not have to cancel lunch meeting with former boss, if afternoon is not available, cave and take whatever appointment, but resist urge to contact former boss until this has been confirmed. Once inevitably only 2 pm appointment is available, accept it and cancel lunch. Go with Mimi to Central to ENT to be told she has middle ear infection, but basically it could have been diagnosed by pediatrician (but what if it coudn’t have so good I did ENT and saved myself two potential visits, at least I’m covered by insurance), head back and work on bibliography while Nene plays with cars on my leg, only snapping at him when he jabs at my keyboard and basically erases entire bibliography which I thankfully am able to recover, then dither over whether to send Nene to doctor with helper because the doctor will give the same medication anyway, cave to guilt and take himself, bring home the same medication including one dodgy looking cream that I’m not sure I want him to apply, dither over whether to sacrifice run in favour of packing for next day’s minibreak which I probably should not go on because of all these doctor’s visits but it’s the summer vacation…
The thing with kids is that I cannot afford to procrastinate on my own stuff. When time is mine, I have to work like a horse, because I have no idea at what inopportune time the interruption will come. How do working parents with no flexibility do it, I wonder? But I know. I was that parent. You do what you can. You don’t feel guilty because you don’t have a choice. Because I seemingly have ‘the time’, I am plagued by endless claims on it. But it is finite and so am I. Nobody else seems to understand this.
I am not good at making decisions on the fly because I want to agonise over the perfect one. I am getting better at deciding something and then squeezing my eyes shut down on the what ifs. Today I managed this, even with the PMS hormones raging and threatening to take me down into sadland. Of this I am proud.