Wednesday 1 November 2017

Another Day, Another Box of Stolen Pens

Points to those who get the Simpsons' reference.

Last night was Halloween and it was pretty much the most understated Halloween I've ever done.  Partly because of me being away, and partly because there's been a lot of other stuff going on that had to take priority.  It makes me feel bad, because Halloween is special to kids and has been to our family in particular.  But at the same time, I'm too tired to really care.

It's been difficult since I've been back.  I'm just as frayed as when I left, so my temper isn't where it should be.  I've found that a particular trigger lately is what I call "making my job harder than it needs to be."  I have to handle the vast majority of what needs to happen in this household and so it really frustrates me when I don't even get the minimal cooperation needed to keep me from having to redo work over and over again.

Simple stuff like: when I've managed to clear the clutter off a surface (table, freezer, kitchen island) and other family members immediately begin to dump more stuff on it.  (This particularly pisses me off when that stuff has its own place, usually near to the dump site.) This is really frustrating when I'm clearing it for a purpose, like setting the table for supper or so that I can do my work.  Or asking me to do something or help with something and then "remembering" a dozen other things which need to happen first.  

It's not fun at the best of times but usually, I grit my teeth and go on.  If it's the boys, I'll prompt them to put away their things (Alex is particularly prone to leaving small stashes of stuff all over the house).  But lately, it's been rubbing me really raw.  I'm frustrated that I haven't been able to use the comfortable chairs in the front room for over two months because toys and other stuff has gotten piled up in them and no matter how often I put those things away in their place, more stuff appears almost immediately.  I'm frustrated that when I mention it, I'm told that there's no place to put away the toy bins, which is because people have tossed random stuff onto the shelves where the bins are supposed to go instead of putting that stuff into the bins.  If I suggest stuff gets put away in the proper bins, I get complaints about how the bins are hard to find, since they get buried under stuff or have so much miscellaneous stuff in them that the kids just dump them out in order to search for what they want (and that stuff ends up on the floor and doesn't get picked up).  If I try to get them to do a general tidy up, I get tons of complaining and need to direct them toy by toy.  If I don't push the tidy up, then I have to pay the housekeeper to do it and she can't do other things that I need her to do.  If it doesn't get done, then I get crap for the fact that the house is a mess and "why should I bother cleaning up my stuff if the house is a garbage dump" attitude.

One can see why this is emotionally escalating.  There's really no way for me to even maintain minimum standards without the rest of the family's passive cooperation.  And it feels like this is happening in a lot of areas.  I don't have the support to do the small, every day changes and then I have to choose between fighting the small fights or fighting the big ones and either way, I know that no one is going to pick up the fights I can't fight.

I'm all too aware that letting things slip makes it much harder to pick up, leaving an oppressive future burden to hover over me.  And I've tried to be polite when people point that out to me in an effort to be helpful and motivational.  But sometimes it doesn't matter how useful and necessary a task is.  Sometimes there just isn't the energy or time to get that task done, even though not doing it will have a higher long term penalty.

I read an article many years ago about the challenge that typical families have in understanding families who are dealing with extreme poverty.  For a typical family, financial difficulty means cutting out "extras" like take out or shopping.  That's a dynamic they understand.  They have trouble understanding how someone can be "stupid" enough to buy an item for $5 when there's a three pack of that item for $12.  It seems like a clear cut decision, the three pack is cheaper per item, leaving $3 to spend on other stuff.  And when every nickel counts, having $3 can be stretched a long way.

Unless you don't have more than $5 and need the item.  The person is very aware that it would be cheaper in the long term to buy the three pack and that by having to spend $5 now, they are perpetuating a cycle that means they won't have the $12 to buy the three pack in the future, condemning them to spend more money than they could have in a situation where that money could be critically vital to have elsewhere.

Right now, I don't have that metaphorical $12.  I don't even really have $5 but I'm scraping together $4.50 on a payment plan and hoping that I'll get lucky. 

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