Parents of young children know the syndrome. It starts with the first arrival. It might be the middle of the night but the new baby wants to be fed and will not let you sleep until her needs have been met. Then there are the unscheduled needs for diaper changes, which gradually emerge into tending to the tears of scratched knees and lost toys. Then it’s help with homework, parents meetings, walks, bedtime stories, birthday parties, sports events, to name but a few.
Me First demands like these are gradually replaced by “I can do it myself!” demands which, paradoxically, merely change the kind of responses expected of parents. But Me First demands of work also begin to muscle in at this point too. Whatever the weather, however tired one may feel, work pressures are real and continuous.
And then comes retirement. You might think, as I did, that the retired can at last make Me First demands for themselves.
That is emphatically not been my experience.
The last three days are an example. Thursday night I was awakened shortly after falling asleep about midnight by a ferocious thunderstorm accompanied by torrential rain. I got out of bed to check that our skylights were securely closed, and fell asleep again. About an hour later, as the storm continued to rage, my husband and were both awakened by toilets gurgling. The outside water was not running through the outside drains quickly enough, and was noisily backing up. When I’d contemplated the possibility of flooding in our house in the past, it did not include black water rushing out the toilets as the first sign of trouble. The good news is that the toilets did not eventually over-run, for which I was grateful.
The next morning, though, there was two inches of water in our sun room, soaking the rya carpet, and miscellaneous pools of water in our kitchen, bathroom, hall, and entrance lobby. Outside was a mess.
Fortunately the day was sunny and we spent the next two days cleaning up, drying out, and clearing moss from the roof which had interfered with water running efficiently into the gutters. We even felt rather fortunate when we discovered that many places had suffered really serious damage. The accident and emergency department of our local hospital is closed for another two days as a result of flooding, for instance.
But last night as I was preparing for bed, I switched on a light, and every plug in the house blew. I got dressed, went out to the meter room and tried to switch the wonky circuit breaker back on. It didn’t work, and I went to bed.
So this morning I woke up with a brand new Me First demand muscling out my normal Sunday plans.
You see what I mean? Some thing is always lurking in the background ready to demand attention – whatever you’d been planning on doing.
PS: I did get the circuit breaker fixed this morning. If I hadn’t, I couldn’t be writing this. I wouldn’t even have had my morning cup of coffee. Not a bad day so far. Even if it wasn’t what I’d been planning on.