I am old school and still love my hand written pocket calendar.I like to get out my pen and fill in the dates of a new year. I like to use my pen to cross of the days that have passed. It is how I keep appointments and keep my life organized. My calendar is one of my most favorite things I own. I also love watching my calendar fill up. I get a thrill out of a busy schedule..every once in awhile.
I noticed while I was home that Mom also seems to love calendars. She owns three. She has her Thomas Kinkade calendar which is more of a wall piece of art in the kitchen than actually used as a calendar. She has a white board calendar that sticks to the fridge that does most of our household managing. Last but not least she has has this wooden calendar she has been ordering paper refills to fill up for at least 20 years. This calendar organized our household activities for pretty much my entire childhood until we got the white board one. Now I feel really old.
But I think calendars are magical. Dreaming about the future. What kind of events or appointments will fill up the days. I have also noticed during times of high stress I don’t pay as much attention to mine because it tends to stress me out. I don’t anticipate the next activity or cross out the days as religiously as I normally would. I think I try to block out the passage of time.
With Mom’s MS I feel I have become increasingly more aware of the passage of time. I look towards future months and wonder how Mom will be doing. I look back a few months at how she was doing and where we are today. I can pinpoint her health by looking at events and remembering how she was health-wise when we attended them.The journey of MS can’t be chronicled into appointments and events. It lands on the unexpected. It can squash all other appointments and events in its path. Mom’s MS has a mind of its own and in no way respects or cares about my pocket calendar and my plans.
But I continue on dreaming filling in my calendar. And so does Mom. Because at the end of the day you have to live. I read a quote recently about travel but I think it also applies to my life: “You have to fail to plan and plan to fail.” So I sit here with my calendar knowing that it could all be flipped on its head in a split second…but for now, it is all organized neatly into its dates and times all wrapped up in its maroon cover.
Do you keep a paper calendar or an electronic one? Why do you prefer one over the other? Have you ever been excited about being busy with plans? Does looking at all the days of the year and all the changes that could happen ever overwhelm you? Do you enjoy filling in the dates of your calendar too?
My family has always been late for things. For as long as I can remember punctuality was not a characteristic that people would use to describe us. It was never done in a rude fashion, but just about 5 to 10 minutes behind schedule. I say typically because it was selective. We were on time when it really mattered for things like school, dance class, weddings, etc. Things where punctuality was important and necessary. Now that my mom has MS our tendency to run late for things has taken on a new life of its own. We operate on a completely different time schedule, usually running very behind.
It’s not all my mom’s fault, I can’t completely blame her at all. Let’s take Christmas 2010 for example. I have always had a bad habit of biting my nails but I finally grew them out for my wedding…and so I could wear dark nail polish for Christmas. As we were running around trying to get out the door for Christmas Eve mass I realized I had forgotten to paint my nails. At this point my dad was running around looking for the checkbook, mom was making sure everything was in her purse and my newlywed husband just stood there in awe of this. This is because his family runs 10 minutes early to everything, but I digress. We had about 3 minutes before we were walking out the door. My sister looked at me and said we’re going to paint them, grabbed her nail polish and we did it. We put my hands on the kitchen counter and with 3 minutes to walking out the door she painted my nails. They were drying as we arrived at church.
I bring this up because it makes me laugh but also because my family is having to learn to be a little more organized to get out the door now. I also have to learn to be okay with the fact that we do run a little later now. I have a slight Type A personality when it comes to these things. I don’t mind running a little late but I have a point when I decide it’s too late. It’s a basic formula for my meltdown: Getting out the door drags on for various reasons that don’t relate to my mom (forgetting keys, forgetting garage openers, forgetting sunglasses) + my mom needs extra time = me putting stress and pressure on my mom in the situation.
The reality of the sitaution is the world is not going to end if we are late. We will get there when we get there. We are not going to be in trouble if we are late. One of my college best friends used to say “what are they going to do?” and that’s the attitude I need to have. I need to repeat these statements over and over. Over and over. I need to have them screaming in my head in these moments, drowning out whispers of stress as I begin to pass the whispers on to everyone else. Instead I need to take a mental step back in these moments. I need to help where I can but I also need to treasure the chaos, treasure these moments. Treasure that we are all together piling into our car to go somewhere the same way we have done all my life. We are all together in these moments. I need to focus on the moment and enjoy being fashionably late x 2.