When I started this blog, I was lonely and depressed. I constantly beat myself up for my inability to keep a tidy home and yard, keep all the things mended which need mending, decorate my home, make and maintain friendships, cook all of our food at home and keep eating out strictly to a special occasion event, look presentable…the list goes on.
Little has changed in those few years. I’m no longer depressed, but I do suffer from frequent melancholia. I beat myself up less, but frankly, it’s hard not to call a fig a fig*. My house is always wrecked, my yard has had next to zero attention in the last two years, well, I have basically failed at all the things.
A while back Mary Tyler Mom wrote a lovely blog about being good enough. It was probably one of the most helpful things I’ve read on the blogosphere, and when I’m feeling angsty about myself and what I accomplish, I just have to ask myself if I’m doing good enough. I usually am. This is a huge struggle for me, because I am a perfectionist and I have ADHD. Together they leave me crippled and paralyzed. I see a mess and don’t know where to start. Each time I attempt to fix the mess by tackling the individual components, the others distract and distress me. And then, it’s hard to find a stopping point, because it needs to be perfect.
Most of my life, I have simply not done the deed. From projects in grade school to getting ready for the day, most of the time I have said “fuck it” and don’t do it. As a child I needed firm guidance and boundaries that my mother was unwilling to provide. As an adult I have to shoulder past my own issues to attempt to provide these same boundaries for my children and guide them through their own struggles with perfectionism and ADHD. This ish is hard.
I’ve struggled to accept my shortcomings and develop coping mechanisms and plans of action to deal with them. Progress is slow, but it’s there. I find I do better when I’m focused on being good enough and let go of being perfect. All that gets thrown in the shit-can, however, when I have encounters like the one I had last night. Usually, people are polite enough to keep their mouths shut and their opinions out of my dirty laundry. Usually.
I am the team manager for my eldest daughter’s soccer team. Half of those people owe money, past due by months. Who the hell signs up for competitive, travel soccer and then can’t bring themselves to pay the necessary extra money to make it happen? One of those people, who loves to talk about how broke she is, came over last night to pay. She was shockingly rude. Let me give you the back story.
Two years ago, Hurricane Irene took a tree out in my front yard. It came this close to taking out the house. It’s outermost branches caressed the windows in front of my house, then one of my neighbors came over, in the middle of a hurricane, with his truck and a winch and pulled it back several feet for us. So grateful. Some people are good. This tree was a huge hickory and after the hurricane all the locals with the tools were peddling their ability to fix fallen trees. They wanted several hundred dollars we didn’t have. My
friend acquaintance came over with her husband and their Eagle scout candidate and did their best to chop up the tree and collect the wood for the Boy Scouts. Their chainsaw was unable to deal with the large stump, and they got it bound up several times. They left behind a huge wall of small branches and a 5 foot stump, where the tree had broken off. I was going to remove the branches in a blaze of glory I had affectionately dubbed The Great Wall of Fire, but emergency services pulled in from all over the country swooped in one day with a couple of trucks, six men, and a big ass claw and scooped them out of the ditch without so much as a how-de-do. I stood there open-mouthed for about ten minutes before I worked up the nerve to go ask what was going on. I was afraid I’d be getting a bill from the county. When I found out they were doing it as part of hurricane recovery emergency money, and the bill was footed by taxpayers (thank you all!) I almost wept. The wall of fire would have been awesome, but to be taken care of by someone else was a treat. I think they offered to come back for the stump and I told them not to bother. Oops.
Back to the rude lady, about her: she’s a perfectionist who’s always got her hair and makeup done and is fully accessorized, car and home are always spotless, and photo-shoot ready, basically nothing is ever, ever out-of-place, and everything is always perfect. That’s about her. It shouldn’t be about me, but I guess it is.
Here’s a transcript from last night:
Her, “Do you rent…or own?”
Me, “Own, why do you ask?”
Her, “You’ve still got that stump…when are you going to get rid of it…I’d have figured an owner would get it out of there.”
Me, “Well. It’s just not that easy, we didn’t have several hundred dollars…”
Her, interrupting, “Burn it out.”
Me, “Wouldn’t work. We tried that with another stump on the other side of the driveway.”
Her, “There are things you can do.”
Me, “It really doesn’t bother me. It grows interesting fungus…”
Her, interrupting, “Oh. So you like it.”
Me, thinking: Enzymes, take forever, money…Stump grinder, money…digging it out, time and back muscles I don’t have…Why does this matter so much to her.
We go on to discuss why I haven’t taken it out. Like it’s any of her business. Honestly, I don’t care for it one way or the other, at the moment, because I’ve got enough other stuff on my plate to deal with and a stump just sitting there growing interesting fungus and not hurting anything or making any messes is just not high on my list of priorities. She continued to argue that it is easy to get a stump out, and pointed out that one of her neighbors came in with his bobcat and pulled a stump out of her backyard for her. I don’t have a neighbor with a bobcat. I’d have to pay someone. This rather uncomfortable conversation went on for fifteen or so minutes.
All of this is moot because it was never any of her fucking business anyway what I do or don’t do with a stump in my yard. It’s nobody’s business that my pressure washer broke and my house is covered in algae. It’s nobody’s business that I haven’t worked my garden beds in two years. It’s nobody’s business that I haven’t gotten around to trimming the hedges for the holidays.
Yet they make it their business. She was just one rude enough to say something. I think that’s what stings the most, the fact that people are looking at my house and judging us. In Mexico, houses are built with boring outside walls, not front yards for display, social posturing, and status building. They don’t give a shit about the outside, because it is what is inside that counts. Not in ‘Murica. Here, your yard reflects your social standing. At the moment, we are white trash.
I’m struggling internally with this. Because I know better, and because I know we are judged harshly for it and it is affecting our children. Nobody wants their kids to hang out with kids whose parents don’t pressure wash their house or tend the yard. Seriously, I have my hands full with raising four tornadoes, teaching them, cooking most of our food from scratch because even if I wanted to, that prepackaged stuff makes my family sick (because gluten and dairy), trying to keep a somewhat tidy house and person, trying to make a go of freelancing, trying to make time to work on my craft, my hopeful chosen profession of writing, but nobody cares. Always be kinder than necessary for everyone is fighting some battle are words we see in memes, there are anti-bullying campaigns, tolerance campaigns, change the world campaigns, and yet, here we are judging people because they have a stump in their yard or a dirty car.
I know I should consider the source, and just remind myself that I’m doing good enough but honestly, it’s hard not to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough*.
*I was going to use “call a spade a spade” but it is apparently racist.