Deferred Maintenance

Deferred Maintenance September 4, 2019

You know how when you have major life transitions going on–like moving, settling your family in new place, learning a new job and smashing the patriarchy, all at the same time– and you start to let things fall through the cracks?

Or… maybe that’s just me. But having just been through such a season, I’m here to tell you, that’s what happens. When you are in the process of doing big life things, little life things get away from you.  For instance, being stretched thin for a season has meant, for me,  little time or bandwidth for writing. (Hi, remember me? I used to blog here?)

It also means a falling into a pattern of putting things that are not urgent on the back burner. I tend to file them under “once we’re settled…”

Well, we moved in February. “Settled” was a distant dream for winter and most of spring. It started circling the block in late April and I believe finally landed on our porch Mid-May. At which point, I felt a blessed relief of having made it through, and felt like doing jack shit for a long time. (It’s summer! Have a beer!) And so, all of the little things I’d put off until “settled” turned into “things I’ll do once the kids get out of school.”

And then the kids got out of school and I laughed really hard at myself for forgetting what utter CHAOS summer schedules are. And so then all of the…what do the kids call it these days, adulting?– all of the #adulting things I needed to do turned into “things I’ll do when school starts.”

All that is to say, now the kids have been back to school for two weeks and I am officially and utterly buried in minutiae. I’ve spent the last few weeks making doctor and dentist appointments, dealing with bills that got paid late in the move (it was just one, but the credit companies do not care if you have otherwise-excellent scores) and generally getting my shit together. Which is a long way around to sharing this little PSA: nine times out of ten, letting these little things go ultimately lands you with a whole lot more hassle and expense than if you had just sucked it up and done it when you were supposed to.

Take my car, for example… Yeah, Dads Of The Internet, I KNOW I should have gotten my tires rotated and my oil changed. But I didn’t, and so now I’ve had to buy all new tires, and probably need to get my transmission serviced to boot. Expensive = pain in the ass. Oh, I also still need to go the DMV, and but for the grace of God and my brother-in-law, would need to buy all new brakes for the car.

But it could be worse. For instance, putting off my check-up could have resulted in an undetected health problem. I lucked out there. Tomorrow I go to the dentist and am half expecting eight cavities, or at the very least, the pronouncement of an impending root canal. 

That’s kind of how these things go.

We’ll not discuss my lack of blogging/writing presence. I trust that the world kept spinning without my hot takes and running commentary on every move it made. However, writing is something that I do because I almost have to, like breathing– and when I slack off, a little part of me gets out of shape. Like any muscle you’ve exercised to a certain performance point and then you sit still too long, and you just start to feel all over tired and out of sorts.

Since I’m a bit rusty you’ll forgive the lack of graceful segue here. Deferred maintenance for a season will cost you. Everything from car maintenance to health–and possibly your savings account in between–will feel the burn.

But then there’s deferred maintenance on life itself, and y’all, we do that too. And some people do it to the breaking point.

Deferred maintenance on our relationships– whether it’s our marriage, our siblings, or the college friends we’ve been ‘meaning to call’ for like the last seven years or so. We put off investing in these connections when we get pulled in too many directions; trusting that those most important to us will just always still be there when we have a minute. We also defer dreams: jobs or educational opportunities that just don’t seem feasible, trips we might take someday, adventures we want to try and risks we want to take. Or a life of the spirit that we know must be out there, somewhere, for some people… but we just can’t quite carve out the time or space to find it for ourselves.

In all of these things, the same truth abides: put it off for too long, and it will cost you. One way or another.

But in all of these, there is also this good news: it’s not too late. If you’re still breathing, you still have a chance. Take the leap. Do the thing. Grow the garden, call the friend, climb the mountain, write the book, pray the prayer… Life is short, but it is so good and full. Get out there.

Just maybe go get your tires rotated first.

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