Doing the Important Work First

9 Apr

I have an online mentor that I’ve been following for about a month named Darren Hardy. He’s geared mostly toward business, so not everything he espouses relates to me, but something he talked about this week went straight to my heart. He told the story of how his mom left right after he was born because she never wanted children. Darren’s dad was left to care for him and refused to give him up, even when Darren’s grandmother showed up on his doorstep to take him home with her. Darren’s grandmother, who was terrified to fly, had gotten on an airplane to come get him and was the most important person in Darren’s dad’s life up to that point, so refusing to give Darren to her was a huge statement about his commitment to his son. They moved to Hawaii where his father was a college football coach, and they were living a great life. Unfortunately, a few years after they moved, Darren’s grandmother died and his grandfather didn’t take her passing well. Within a short time, it was apparent that without help, Darren’s grandfather wasn’t going to make it, so Darren’s dad quit his great job and moved back to the states to care for his father. It was not easy because college football coaching jobs in their area were sparse. They got by but it was difficult, until he was finally offered a coaching job two states away. When Darren’s father asked his father about moving, the reply was, “do what you have to do.” Darren’s father called the school back and over a speaker phone with several people listening, he declined the position and received an ovation because he chose family over career, a decision he never regretted.

I needed to hear that story this week. I have been struggling with a similar decision of whether to pursue a career on a more full time basis. It seems that every time I make progress in one area or another, one of my children needs me and the progress is either forgotten or just gets put aside. Hearing Darren’s story made me realize that as much as I might want something different; my family still needs them to be there for them on a daily basis. More importantly, I realized this morning, that my situation isn’t keeping me from anything. Instead, I have an incredible opportunity in front of me. You see, when my youngest was born I was incredibly disorganized and struggled with keeping up with laundry and housework. I was a fun mom, but I am not born organized like some folks, so keeping up with everything got overwhelming quickly when I had a child with extraordinary needs. I searched out and found Flylady and the house has gotten better every year since. I have not always been as consistent as I would like, but even when I slide, I now have a place to start and a way to get back to better. I know now that my son’s medical condition was an opportunity for me to grow and to learn new life skills for myself as well as my family.

Today, I realize I am seeing that kind of opportunity again. My son needs to develop additional life skills to be successful in high school and beyond. School came easy for me because I loved it. I would occasionally get a bad grade, usually on a long term project, because I didn’t understand how to use my time well and would wait until the last moment to get the project completed. Funny that no one ever taught us how to manage our time, they just expected it. School came easy for my husband too, so to have a child who really doesn’t care about school and how well he does is foreign for us. It is, however, similar to the struggle my mom and I had over keeping my room clean. My mother is born organized. Her home has always been neat as a pin, except for my room when I still lived with her. I never understood the point of cleaning my room. I was ok with the mess. It really didn’t bother me, and rather than fighting with me, my mom just let it go until she couldn’t stand it and then she would make me clean. I hated it and so did she, but because we didn’t understand each other, it was difficult to make progress. Although the situations are similar, one thing is different. I understand my son because he is just like me, and as of this morning, I figured out that helping him will help us both.

I realized this morning that I am doing the very thing that I am trying to change in my son. I hate admitting that but it’s true. I want my son to do better in school. He wants to do better in school, but he isn’t doing the work to make that happen. I want to lose weight, but I’m not doing the work to make that happen. He knows that doing better quality work on his homework and studying daily will raise his grades but he plays video games instead. I know that eating lower carb, better quality food and exercising daily will reduce my weight but I eat potatoes and grains and sit in front of a screen far more than I need to. The same thing goes for the many unfinished or un-started projects around the house. Consistent effort, even if it is small and applied over time, will make a difference. It is time to change for both of us. It is time that we commit to being better, and until I do the things I need to do, how do I expect my son to do it? It’s a sobering thought, but it’s also a hopeful one because I know I need help. I almost always do better when I feel like I’m part of a group or a team. I worked with others, albeit online, to get my home in order. I get much more accomplished when my family pitches in, even for a little bit. This past weekend, my boys each spent less than an hour helping us to prepare for our Easter party on Sunday. We accomplished as much in an hour together than I could have accomplished all day by myself. It amazes me every time. I think my son and I can be that support system for each other.

I’ve always said I could conquer the world if I had a secretary or a personal assistant to take care of all of the details of life for me. I’ve thought that when my son goes to college, I will be doing just that for him so that he can keep his life on track. Like his mother, he has great potential and intent that sometimes goes awry. I recently spoke with two wealthy men with ADHD. Both of them struggle with organization, but both of them have incredible assistants that keep them on track and they both are able to run multiple businesses and travel the world having the life of their dreams. That is what I hope for my son. That is what I hope for all of my sons; that they will be incredibly successful, that they enjoy every day and that they will give to those who need it most. It occurred to me today that I can definitely step it up in that department myself. That way, I can coach my son instead of criticize. We can cheer each other on instead of avoiding each other. We can develop a plan for success instead of failing a little bit every day. I like the idea of it, and I am hoping he will too. More than that, I’m hoping it will help us both reach a level of success we’ve never seen before and it will be so much better that we’ve done it together.

So, like Darren’s dad, I’m choosing my family. I will still blog and broadcast my radio show. I’ll continue to research other career paths, but I’ll also tackle all of those projects I’ve been meaning to get to. I’ll be more accountable for my health and well-being, and I will hopefully be teaching the traits I pray my children will develop. It may not be easy, but I’m sure it will be easier than fussing with one another over grades and homework and video games for the next three years of high school. My hope is that we will both come out of this feeling empowered, strong and successful and that we can carry that forward for the rest of our lives, just like Darren’s dad.

It isn’t fun to look at the areas of our lives that need improving and act upon them, but when we do, we not only improve our lives. We also improve the lives around us; at least that’s been my experience, so I’m starting today. I’ll keep you informed on the progress, and before you know it, I’ll be watching this one graduate and contemplating that full time writing career again. It can wait and so can I because I have more important work to finish first, and I am blessed to have this work to do. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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