As I'm getting a little older, I am slowing down a LOT. Because I'm moving so slowly, the world around me seems to be speeding up -- to the point that sometimes I feel I'm going to be thrown right off the merry-go-round of time, never to be seen again.
I had a great weekend. Last night I went to a Luau thrown by a friend who's a fellow homeschool mom. My husband and I don't socialize much, so I was thrilled to have a party to go to :) I was simply amazed by the preparation that went into the party, and the fact that everything was done, and it seemed nothing had been forgotten. The hostess is a single mother, with two special needs teenage sons, and I'm very doubtful I could handle any of her regular days, much less pull off a party. But when I got to the luau, albeit an hour or so late, it was beautiful. There were decorations, drinks, straws, enough chairs, cups, utensils for the food....all the little details were covered.
I'm not like that. The party brought back to mind my dad's surprise 70th birthday party (it turns out that he actually had cancer at the time, but hadn't been diagnosed yet. I am SO glad we had that party for him....he was thrilled by so many little things that day). I was in charge of planning and executing the party (even though I lived 600 miles away). The pre-party planning went well....I delegated several things, and had a master list drawn up (I LOVE lists). The problem is that I am a procrastinator. And my siblings are procrastinators. So the bottom line is that the morning of the party I was at Sam's Club with my sister-in-law buying 80% of the food, and the large gift from his children (a Pimpin' Grill....he called it the Cadillac of grills).
Fast forward through the day, and it's time for the party. Literally, it's 4:00 and the party invitations said 4:00. I'm rolling in to the driveway, and my stomach sinks because I see all the cars. Darn it! I forgot normal people (read: not my family) aren't usually 1 to 2 hours late. And we invited normal people. Luckily my dad was out with my brother, and they weren't coming home until we told them to. So I went rushing to the house, sent all the nephews out to carry in bags, grabbed everyone I knew (and one girlfriend of some nephew that I didn't know) and gave everyone a recipe and ingredients to make the food. I'm also trying to be hostessey and greet guests, many of whom were family and work friends of my dad's that I hadn't seen for twenty years.
It was actually amazing how quickly everything pulled together. It took probably 20 minutes to get everything made and set out (unfortunately the meatballs baked in grape jelly and chili sauce were a casualty of poor time management--or maybe it was some type of subconscious protective instinct). There was a beautiful cake (thanks Sam's Club for being able to decorate one in 15 minutes). My dad came in about 10 minutes later, everyone shouted "SURPRISE", and I have the priceless memory of my dad being absolutely thrilled.
The question is, why the last-minute rush? I knew about the party 6 weeks in advance. I had my master list that was detailed enough for the most anal retentive of party planners. I knew where to get everything, had my recipes printed out with grocery lists for each attached.....but the follow-through wasn't there. The result was that there were 20 minutes of absolute chaos--10 people in a kitchen, all trying to rush through and prepare food. I couldn't help sneaking glances at the guests, trying to read what they were thinking. I'm pretty sure most of them were thinking I'm a flake. I don't actually like being (or looking like) a flake. I usually laugh things off (my favorite coping mechanism) but living on the edge of disaster is starting to bother me. I want this part of my personality to be different.
I read an article about a year ago (or it could have been 8 years ago--remember that whole time speeding up thing) that was discussing procrastinators like me. There are two intervals of times--NOW, and NOT NOW. If something needs to be done NOW, it has to be done. NOW. If something needs to be done in a week, or a month, or tomorrow, it's NOT NOW. Thus it goes to the back of the line, until it's NOW. Unfortunately, many times NOW is actually AN HOUR AGO, so it's EARLIER, so it's already TOO LATE--and there you have my life. I understand normal people do things in stages, a bit at a time, so things get done in a timely manner. I want to be one of those normal people. I just haven't figured out how.
In the end, everything eventually gets done. I just can't help but wonder what it would be like to enjoy a function without the stress of standing in line at Target twenty minutes before the function buying a pair of shoes. Or praying that my car won't run out of gas because I waited until the last minute to buy gas, and also left home late.....thus initiating a game of Russian Gas Roulette. I long to be the calm, collected, color-coordinated woman who is in control of her life and her environment. There are a couple of women in my life who come to mind...I admire them so much. And if anyone ever throws me a surprise 70th birthday party, I hope one of them are in charge :)