What Will Be My Next Big Project?

A few months ago I was diligently writing a book. I was laser focused and for the first time ever truly felt like I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing in that moment. I was never so sure of anything in my life. It felt like I was being guided through the process, rather than my normal approach of doggedly sticking to a predefined plan.

It was an amazing experience, unlike anything I’d felt before.

But since I completed that project I’ve been trying to figure out what my next one will be. I have several ideas but when I try to decide what I want to work on I just feel…I don’t know…kinda meh. They’re all good ideas and I want to do those projects at some point, but I don’t feel a burning passion for any of them right now. None of them feel like the NEXT thing.

Then last night, while I was lying awake once again at 3 am it hit me. I know what I want my next big project to be.

I belong to two parent groups on Meetup. Both have been run by the same woman for the past 10 years. Now that her son is a teenager she hasn’t been focusing on the groups at all and has left it to the members to host their own events. Membership in the groups has been declining (although there are still almost 3,000 members between the groups) but worse engagement in the groups is minimal.

There are few events each month and those events are rarely well attended. People signing up for events and then not showing up is a big problem that has been a source of frustration for those willing to host events. Many members are interested in seeing these groups succeed but after the current organizer announced she is going to step down no one has offered to take the lead.

I have to admit, when I saw her notice I deleted it thinking that I have the same problem she has, a busy life with already insufficient time to do the things I want to do. Definitely not something I need to add to my already full plate.

Except for one thing I realized last night.

This could be an amazing learning opportunity for my kids. For more than a year now I’ve been trying to find ways for them to learn about making money in non-traditional ways, perhaps running a business in some way. While these groups don’t currently make any money, it is possible to lead Meetups in a way that can generate income.

The issues with the groups would need to be addressed before anything else. But this is something I could get the girls involved in. I can talk to them about what makes some groups successful while other fail. We can work together to host events that fit what the group is looking for. They would be involved as business partners and not as event attendees. They could host events where they teach younger kids crafts (something they love to do). They can come up with their own ideas for events to host and ways to get the families engaged again.

This could be how they learn about what it takes to run a business, in a way where the financial risk would be minimal. Over time, if we are able to fix the issues with engagement we could start charging members a small annual fee to generate a little money. But even if we never get to this point the things they could learn will be priceless in the future.

So for this reason I feel like this is my next big project. This just feels right. It is in line with so many of my goals I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I will be talking to them about this today and then will reach out to the current organizer. What could go wrong? Even if we fail the girls will have learned so much.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Meh

Defiant Kids Versus Exhausted Mom – Who Won?

If you read my post on Friday, Watch Out For the Wrath of an Exhausted Mom!, you may be wondering what happened Friday night when we talked.

When I left the house Friday morning I couldn’t even make myself breakfast because every surface in the kitchen was covered. The front living room was also completely torn apart. The kids had been painting the walls but had not been cleaning up after themselves. This was their project and they knew they were responsible for cleaning up, so I left it as I found it. I was too tired to try anyway. I grabbed my coffee and a banana and headed to work.

That evening when I came home I walked into a house that was virtually unrecognizable compared to the one I had seen in the morning. They had clearly been cleaning all day; there was no other way they could have achieved what they did. Not only did they clean up the mess from painting, they cleaned the bathroom in my bedroom plus both of their bedrooms and the back living room where they’d been sleeping – literally every room.

The relief I felt was tremendous and helped me have a calm discussion with the 3 kids who were still at my house (2 had been picked up before I got home).

They explained why they were making noise. My oldest daughter came into my room assuming I was asleep and didn’t think she’d disturb me. I listened. I didn’t necessarily agree, but I patiently heard what they had to say. Once they were finished I stated my point, that I had to work and that this situation is not like the ones when we have friends sleeping over on the weekend.

I admitted I should have set better expectations and that I should have set better limits given that it was during the week.

We decided that if….okay, when (because having a houseful of kids is kind of my thing)… we have another weekday sleepover that by 10 pm they would go into their bedrooms on the far side of the house so they would be less likely to disturb me. I accepted the day’s worth of cleaning as their penance for the wrongdoing the previous night.

And I will be bringing 5 kids with me to Georgia this week. Wish me luck!

Is It All Just a Dream?

Ding!

My phone announces another message. I reach for it breathlessly, wondering if it’s from you. praying it is. I shouldn’t feel this way. I shouldn’t want so much.

I barely know you. We haven’t even met, yet it seems as if you are a long lost friend. Where did you come from? How did you find me? I wasn’t expecting this at all; you have taken me completely by surprise.

Your words are like satin, all smooth and glossy. They wrap me in softness I have long forgotten. You say what I have been longing to hear and I want so much to get lost in the luxurious feel, even if it’s only for a little while. It would be so good to just let go, to trust, to allow myself to indulge in the possibilities.

Your message causes a physical reaction. I respond to what you’ve written as if you’ve run your hands over my body, sensuously caressing my skin, even though you’ve said nothing seductive. It’s so intense I can barely breathe. How is this even possible? What are you doing to me?

It’s been so long since I’ve had someone to lean on, a partner. I want to believe it’s possible, that this isn’t just a dream; but I’m afraid. I’ve opened myself up before and been left heartbroken. I’ve shed too many tears already, there aren’t any left.

If I look past your words is the reality still as shiny? Is there darkness behind the luster?

I close my eyes and imagine you are there. What would it be like? My heart begins to pound just thinking about having you near. I get goosebumps when I conjure an image of you drawing closer. I can almost feel you against me, your arms around me. I rest my head against your chest, finally at peace. At long last I feel like I can sleep.

Ding!

Slowly I awaken, only to realize it is my morning alarm and not a text message after all. Is it possible it was all just a dream? It seems so real. Maybe, just maybe….

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Satin

Watch Out For the Wrath of an Exhausted Mom!

I was flabbergasted, completely stunned. At 1 am my 13 year old daughter came into my room to get something. I have no idea what but there is nothing important enough in my room that I should have been woken up just as I was drifting off to sleep.

Let me back up a bit…I’m sure you might be wondering why my daughter was up at 1 am on a week night. Well, it’s officially summer vacation for my kids. They were supposed to be going to NH with their dad but in what should not have been a surprising turn of events he went up without them, leaving them with me for two weeks with nothing to do while I work.

I abhor the idea of my kids sitting around the house all day doing nothing. It’s important to me that they find engaging activities while I’m not with them, but if the two of them were left to their own devices they would probably spend the day watching TV and playing games on their phones, not because they particularly want to do those things but rather they lack the motivation to find something more interesting.

So in a fit of utter insanity I invited 3 of their friends to spend the week with us (Wednesday to Friday). These are good kids that I trust who have spent a lot of time with us (having 5 kids at my house for days on end is not unusual). Wednesday night 3 of them tackled the project of painting 2 rooms in my house, so the house has been torn apart for days. The other 2 have been busy doing crafts and other small projects. It’s been good for everyone, mostly.

When the kids have friends over I have 2 rules about them going to bed:

1. Don’t keep me up
2. Don’t wake me up

They can sleep as late as they want while they’re on vacation but I have to get up to work.

Well, last night they broke both of these rules. The fault lies entirely with my kids, not their friends. They were inconsiderate. The consequence for breaking these rules is clear and non negotiable. No more sleepovers. Not forever, but enough to be painful. It is the natural, logical consequence for breaking the rules and has been well known for years.

The problem?

Next weekend I’m taking 2 of these kids (plus another friend) with us on our trip to Georgia. The very tired part of me wants to just tell them that their friends can’t come. It would be an excellent lesson and they would certainly learn that I’m serious about these rules. But this trip will be more fun for all of us if their friends come. I’ve already committed to the kids and their parents, and it’s not their fault that my kids were inconsiderate.

So tonight I will need to make a decision about how to handle this. Some parents might disagree with this, but I’m going to talk with them to see if they can come up with a reasonable consequence that will be better for everyone than the one I really should be enforcing. I hope we can reach a compromise because I’m really looking forward to this trip.

It’s often surprising what they can come up with in these situations. Sometimes they are better at this parenting thing than I am!

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Flabbergasted