Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Make Excuses

I was in a school meeting advocating for one of my children yesterday.  I was trying to get the teachers and administration on the same page with me, with Britt and I as his parents.  Trying to get them to understand the nuances of how ADHD and Asperger's affect this child's ability to implement tasks required at school.  It was kind of a tricky situation, because this was one of the first meetings of this type where the child was actually present.  How do you address issues without making the child feel less than?  How do you explain the challenges without sounding like you are making excuses?  How do you keep the child from using challenges as excuses?

And I left there thinking, "Ugh!  I make excuses!"

I don't mean to, but I do it all the time.

I take longer to do things--it probably relates a lot to my adult ADD, and just a lot to my personality.  That sounds like an excuse right there, doesn't it?  It is a fact of my life.  You know in the movie Two Weeks Notice, the part where Sandra Bullock's character rants about how she thinks about her boss in the shower--not in a good way (or whatever way) but in a "I can't remember if I used conditioner kind of way"?  That is me all the time.  My mind is always going a million miles a minute thinking about all kinds of random things that have nothing to do with anything.  That means I tend to be slow.

Slow at doing chores--things I hate, so it takes even longer because I have to somehow motivate myself.  Slow at doing things I love.  Because I over think it.  I am a perfectionist about things that matter to me.  And I feel like I never complete the things that are most important to me.  Not to mention the things I just have to do but don't want to.  I am a procrastinator partially because I know how long it will take me, and I know I will have to give something else up because there just isn't enough time at the rate I go.

These are excuses.  I let life hold me back.

I see it in my kids.  It breaks my heart.  I know most of them have the same issues.

I remember very clearly the day I had several friends over at my house and we were all working on scrapbooking or other craft projects.  And we were so wrapped up in our projects, we were still going when it was time for the kids to get out of school.  Some of our kids (mine, of course--they lived there) joined us at my house while we continued working.  That day, my friend's daughter pulled out her 1st grade homework and completed it ENTIRELY ON HER OWN in five minutes.  That never happens at my house.  As a matter of fact, that same homework took us at least an hour to complete, working on it and fighting about it.  And this was before I had other children who also had homework to do--not that babies and toddlers are not demanding in their own right.

It becomes a cycle of excuses.  I didn't always fight the good fight with my children when it came to the 2 hour homework battle (per kid).  There have been more days than I care to admit that I just bagged it altogether.  Who really has 10 hours every day to dedicate to their child's homework?  I hated homework as a child.  I could always pass the tests, but I hated doing all the busy work.  I hated it.  But I want my children to believe education is important.  It is important to me.  But I have failed my kids in teaching them that, I know.

And I have failed them in letting them know I still expect them to work, even though it is a long, drawn-out process.

Because it is harder for us than some.  I know that.  That is an excuse, I suppose.  But it could also be a challenge.  You see, I don't spend all my time worrying about how unfair life is.  It is unfair that other people's kids don't have to work as hard for things as my kids do.  It is unfair that they have to take things for granted while we have to fight for them around here.

I don't like being one that makes excuses for myself and my kids.  I really don't mean to.  I am afraid I have been an enabler sometimes when it comes to letting some of my expectations slide--like requiring them to keep their rooms clean.  Stuff like that.  Following rules.  Sometimes I forget I said something and then I let them get away with things they really shouldn't.  I wish I didn't do that.  It doesn't help them.  It doesn't help us.

There's this other thing I do, too.  I make excuses for other people.  That's part of my personality of always wanting to see the good in people.  I say to myself, "Well, maybe no one ever taught her how to show respect to other people."  I think, "He must be having a bad day, because surely he doesn't mean to treat us like that."  In some instances, I realize, I might be better served to just acknowledge I am often better off simply accepting that other people are not perfect and some of them have no interest in walking in another's moccasins even if it would help them to be more compassionate people.

Does it help that I know I make excuses?  Do I simply beat myself up about it all the time? (yeah, usually I do).  Or can I use this knowledge as an opportunity to do better?  I certainly don't want my kids to feel entitled.  Entitled to have me sign off on their schoolwork, even when they know they should have put in a better effort.  Entitled not to have to keep their personal spaces clean, because Mom will eventually take care of it for them.  Entitled to not be kind and courteous individuals because no one else is and everyone else will just walk all over them.

Actually, I think, . . . I hope!. . . my kids are the exception in that last one.  My kids KNOW i expect them to be polite and caring to others in their lives.  Often it seems we are the rare ones in that effort.  Maybe that is something we are lucky in that, being five kids born so close together, they are forced to exercise this practice daily.  Some kids are spread so far apart or are the baby in a family come many years after the other kids.  They are the ones who are so used to getting what they want, maybe their parents forget they need to teach them otherwise.  (See, that's me making excuses for others there again).

Anyway, I honestly do hope I can do better about preventing these excuses I make from crippling our lives.  I want more for us, even if it is hard.  WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!

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