It certainly isn't as if I haven't done things. I started sorting the boys' clothes and made substantial progress towards clearing out the clothes that don't fit any more. I've got several bags of clothes to give to a friend whose son can wear the 3Ts and smallish 4Ts that Son #3 has outgrown, and then I've got several other bags of even smaller stuff, which somehow escaped past purges, to donate to charity. The Pit of Despair (aka, our garage) lost some weight this week as well, since hubby pulled out several bags of clothes that he had sorted to be picked up by a local charity and I stumbled across a stack of materials from an old freelance job of mine that went into the recycle bin. I made a tiny little baby step towards beginning to sort out old toys by boxing up the old peg puzzles (and yes, realizing that I had a drawer full of them was a classic facepalm moment--after all, Son #3 is only about 2 years beyond them developmentally). I even made major progress on a project that has been haunting me since last summer (and which will be worthy of its own post when I finish up the final niggling details, so I won't elaborate here).
So why the grumpiness? Well, the first part has to do with realizing that I'm past the fun opening stage of embarking on a new project (in this case, decluttering the house and simultaneously trying to restore some balance to my life) but still miles away from realizing my goals. I will soon run out of low-hanging fruit to pick and start running up against the obstacles that made me decide that, say, cleaning out the closets could wait until after I checked out what everyone was doing on Facebook.
The second part has to do with underestimating the size of the task. I had thought last summer that getting rid of 1,000 pounds of stuff would make a noticeable difference in my house. Well, between the bags of stuff we gave to charity, the papers I recycled, and the batteries my friend took to the hazardous waste disposal, we got rid of about 100 pounds of stuff in the last week. That's 1/10th of the total goal, and you'd never notice. To paraphrase Roy Scheider in Jaws, I'm going to need a bigger goal.
Getting rid of stuff hasn't been my only attempt at self-improvement. I started trying to exercise regularly shortly before the last school year ended, when I found that my anxiety was waking me up at a brutal 5:30 a.m. every day whether I liked it or not. (And for the record, I like sleep. I need sleep. I am more pleasant to be around, and not-so-coincidentally, my family is much happier when I've had my sleep.) It seemed much better to get up and walk/jog around the neighborhood than to lay in bed having anxiety attacks. Now, I can't really say that I've ever had a regular exercise program in my adult life, and my two favorite hobbies (reading and knitting) involve a lot of sitting around. My physical condition is exactly what you would expect of a primarily sedentary 40-year-old, except that I'm not overweight. (Won the genetic lottery there, because up until now I've done nothing to earn it.) My main accomplishments so far have been not quitting, and improving my jogging speed to the point where I might be the second person caught by the undead hordes in the zombie apocalypse, instead of the first. It's not nothing, I suppose, but I still feel like kind of a fraud when I put on my exercise clothes.
And why the lack of sleep? The public school system is adjusting their calendar to start earlier in the fall, which means the kids will get out much earlier next summer. In the meantime, though, this summer is being cut nearly a month short as we transition from a late-start to an early-start calendar. As I realized we had less than a month of summer left, the old feeling of anxiety that I left behind for a couple of golden weeks started to reappear. All of the plans that had existed in a cozy space of "wouldn't-it-be-fun-if" in my head (books to read, craft projects to do, time to hang out with friends) have now crashed smack into the reality that there are really only three weeks to go, and only one unplanned weekend, before the boys are back in school.
Last year I started the school year in the hope that I would be able to juggle my obligations and my interests, and ended up overwhelmed, hopping from task to task. I'm so hoping that it won't happen again, but I worry that just like last year, I am not far enough along in trying to make changes to the status quo to be able to maintain any momentum. I'm enough of a grownup to realize that I'm not going to transform my life and the stuff-laden crazy routine my family has gotten into overnight; it is more like trying to make a U-turn in a river barge. So yes, a little instant gratification would be nice right about now to keep up morale, but I'll settle for a random squirrel picture instead.
Hey look at that--I figured out how to put a picture in a blog post! The day isn't a total waste.