So I was talking to my mom when she asked me if I’d gotten in contact with a lead I was given about a new job. I told her I hadn’t and that it was because I have been struggling trying to find time to work on my resume. Work is insane, and the traffic is getting worse so the commute is getting longer. By the time I get home I am spent. To kick my brain into high gear again once I’ve gotten home, cooked dinner, helped with homework, listened to problems, and taken a shower is more than I am able to do. On top of that I have to get my sleep because I’m no spring chicken and my bills are more than my paycheck without overtime, so overtime is a must. I go in early rather than stay late because the kids don’t miss me when they’re asleep.

She made the comment that she worries that I am trying to do too much. Well I am, no doubt, but some of it is required (laundry, dishes, yard work), and some of it is important (garden). So I gave her the rundown on why doing the garden and some of the other things are important.

Thing is, even though all of my points are valid, she too may have a point – perhaps even a stronger point. Maybe what I am doing is unsustainable. I mean, I know it is, but how do you decide what to give up? Not only do I have a garden, but there are some plants inside the house that require maintenance as well. Do those things need to go? It’s not that watering them takes so long per se, but there is the monitoring to see if they need watering, remembering to monitor them, pruning, making sure they are getting enough sun, etc. There are other things that could be lumped into this category as well I’m sure.

It has become obvious this year that sustainability and resilience requires more than one person, unless you are in a very minimalist situation. When you are a single dad being that minimalist isn’t really an option; there is a lot that is required just to be a decent father. But I have always been a great father, and want to continue as such. The relationship and trust I have with my kids is priceless.

So what do I do? Stop gardening? My health and the health of my kids are at stake and that is something that is with us for as long as we inhabit this earth. Am I paranoid, thinking that the food I get from the store is really that bad? Maybe only time will tell. But what about the increasing cost in food, and the exponential cost that is looming because of the severe drought conditions we are experiencing that no one is talking about? What happens when the unavoidable increase in taxation teams up with rising food costs? Not try to find ways to increase the efficiencies in my household and make a smaller eco-footprint ala: reuse, repurpose, recycle? Should I not plant trees in my yard that will provide shade, wind protection, and yearly fruit production (I haven’t yet but it is on the ‘really, really need to do’ list)? Should I stop trying to better insulate and shade my house to lower my electric bills? That saves me money (as well as keeps us more comfortable because the a/c alone is not sufficient for our house), and as inflation keeps grinding away at a rate far higher than what the “official” numbers are, that seems to be more and more important as time goes on. Should I just say “screw it “, join the zombie sheeple status quo, and ignore the state of our environment and what is contributing to its change, as well as to what kind of future that leaves for my kids?

I am a firm believer that at times we must dramatically lower our standards in order to keep our head above water, I get that. At the same time, you must make sure that you don’t fall into the trap that so many people do who get a raise, in that an expense always seems to be taken on that absorbs the extra money (now coming in). If I drop my garden or (shudder) get rid of my 2 surviving bonsai trees, will I still find myself facing the same shortage of time? My bonsai make my eyes happy when I look at them. If I give them up and don’t experience relief, then I am actually worse off because I have given up a desire of my heart (beauty) and gotten nothing in return. I’ll really need to ponder this.

I have been told “have the kids help more. When I was a kid…blah blah blah”. Yeah, me too. But that was a different time, and maybe 15 years ago you did make your kids do more too. But that was then, and it was a different time. I bet you didn’t make them do as much as you did when you were a kid, or even as much as you think you remember making them do. It is extremely difficult – on many levels – to make a kid that is already doing chores do more, when the entire society around them is doing no chores at all. When their peers are required to do nothing while your kid is taking an extremely heavy course load in order to graduate a year early, and working part time so that they can not only buy their own gas, but their own shampoo, make up and feminine products, more should be demanded?? Not only is it an uphill battle which takes more of the sacred, precious time than just doing it yourself, you (I) feel like a crummy father because they have to pick up the slack financially. “It’s good for them, they’ll be better off because of it”. Maybe, and maybe that’s bulls***. Don’t misunderstand, I do believe that doing chores and being responsible are very important in building character and preparing young people to become contributing members of the community. But they are also missing out on the experiences their friends are having which is making them different, and in the case of the teenager robbing them of the opportunity to form strong social/community/networking bonds which are going to vital as the future draws near. They are already struggling to deal with the emotional trauma they are experiencing because of the divorce. The death of an innocence, something that they never in a million years gave a second thought about not being as solid as the rock of Gibraltar suddenly crumbles right out from under them with no warning. “That’s right darling, you can’t count on anything being safe, and as an added bonus you get to do more work, carry a heavier burden than all of your peers, and do without more things and experiences than them.”

Oops, sorry. Is my cynicism showing? Better be careful, I want to progress, not digress.

Man going it alone is hard.

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