Several years ago, probably around the time First Offspring was born, the Handsome Sidekick and I bought a will kit. Inside were two wills, and clear, easy-to-understand instructions on how to fill out the will. This should be a breeze! we thought.
When First Offspring was about nine months old, we moved house. I found the will kit. Should get around to doing that, I thought. We lived in the new house for almost exactly six years. While packing to go, I found the will kit again. By this stage, First Offspring had three siblings. Making a will seemed more important than ever, given we had four young people to consider.
A few months ago, I finally got around to cleaning out the many boxes in the ‘library’–the room where we keep the books, where I write (when it’s not too cold) and where we put all the other stuff we can’t fit into our bedrooms. You guessed it, I found the will kit again.
This time, I took action. I picked it up and put it on the coffee table in the lounge room.
It should be noted that there are several parts to this will which are easy to fill out. Our names, for example. Our address. Information we could simply have written down, without needing to consider anything to do with distributing our worldly belongings or deciding who would take care of our Offspring. For some reason, just putting pen to paper seemed so incredibly difficult, that we put it off, and put it off, and put it off.
It’s no secret why we put it off, of course. It’s difficult to think about one’s mortality, and making a decision about the people who will care for one’s children is even more difficult. It’s heart-wrenching to imagine them growing up without one or both parents. Not to mention what would happen to all our animals. It’s easier to imagine that we will live a long and healthy life, and that there’s really no need for a will–at least, not yet.
My inaction about the wills is typical of me, really. I am renowned for my procrastination. Sure, I’ve improved dramatically in the past few years, and when it comes to work, I tend to try my best to keep to deadlines (and usually succeed). But like many people, I’ve often put off unpleasant problems, until I really have to deal with them, because it’s a lot easier to focus on the ‘nice’ stuff. Like enjoying your life without thinking about your demise!
And this is not the only area where I’ve procrastinated. I’ve put off bills, when I couldn’t afford them that week, but instead of being the adult, I’ve just waited until we got notice after notice, until I finally paid them. I’ve missed a odd due date for a university assignment, without asking for an extension. I’ve had a problem with a friend but rather than saying something, I’ve just simmered away, annoyed. I’ve even put off seeing the doctor about health conditions, because I worried it could be something really bad.
None of this is healthy. And it’s so stressful! You’d think that ignoring something in the hopes it might go away, would work, wouldn’t you? It doesn’t. And I found it gets harder to deal with it, when you put it off. So at some point–not sure when, but some years ago, I just… stopped. I’m sure the Handsome Sidekick had something to do with it, because he is not much of a procrastinator, and he suggested I do the same. Well, he probably threw his hands in the air, exasperated, and asked me why I would put myself through this stress, when I could easily take care of it by simply calling someone. What a revolutionary idea! I thought. I should start doing that.
So when I got a bill and knew I wouldn’t be able to pay it (let’s face it, I generally am pretty good at budgeting, so it was less a case of not knowing we would be short of money, and more a case of not wanting to think about it), I would actually call the company. And you know, apart from one time when a rather terse person was rude to me, everyone else has been kind, and understanding, and willing to give us an extension or work out a payment plan. And the result of that is that I’m so much more relaxed, I can feel good about taking control, and I ended up leaving the company who employed the meany-pants and going with someone else for our telephone and internet needs.
I wonder about this strategy and how it seems so easy, but how the execution does involve stepping up and admitting that you can’t do it all on your own. That, I think, is what’s difficult. Asking for help, admitting you don’t have enough money… those are two things for which we often shame people. But it’s not shameful! The alternative–especially when it comes to a health issue–can be far worse. Eviction, repossession, a serious health problem… when I read about these kinds of things happening, I know that I could easily be in that situation. That’s not to say I feel superior to those who are, but I can empathise, and I only hope that their problems might also be met with kindness and understanding, as mine were. And I can only hope that we might be moving towards a society where we are more concerned with how to help individuals who find themselves in difficult circumstances, instead of blaming them for not having the tools or the confidence to deal with them.
And before you ask, yes, we still need to finish that will. This week, though. Yep. Definitely.