Friday, October 11, 2013

How the Week Looks From Here

My husband and I went away last weekend with friends for an adults-only retreat from regular life, to be recharged and refreshed and ready to hit the ground running upon re-entry.  We need this kind of time as a couple without the kids, to remind ourselves of who we are without them.  When we spend that time with people who have become so loved that they are like family, so much the better.

Monday morning, the laundry was in piles, the kids were kissed and off to school, my husband was long gone to work, and I determined to return to the land of the living once more.

I sputtered and coughed and plowed through the mud of my day.  And the rest of the week.

I got stuff done.  I did chores, and food shopped, and made dinner for my family.  I shuttled kids back and forth to their activities.  I opened mail and watered plants.  I wrote and I read.

But, still.  It takes me so long to get back in to the swing of things.  I wanted to do more, wanted to get all the things accomplished that floated in my head, wanted to transform the to-do list into a have-done list.

The list takes up its space on my desk, as perfect and unmarked as the day I made it.  Not one thing got crossed off.  I feel lazy.

I argue with myself: You want too much right now.  All things cannot be done at once.

Is this the influence of the society we live in?  I am a patient person.  Having children develops that attribute in a person.  I am the Scarlett O’Hara of procrastination, the Little Orphan Annie of optimistic putting off.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another day.  I love you, tomorrow – you’re always a day away.

A friend of mine just posted this subject on her blog recently, that her life was so busy.  She lamented that she had to cut some things out of her schedule that she loves to do.  It hurt her to know that this life that she filled with good things was keeping her from doing some of the things she really enjoys doing.  She is learning to give up the guilt of not doing all she wants - there are just so many hours in the day, in the week.

I can relate, yet one thing still bugs me: how can I be productive in the things I must do if I can’t do any of the things I want to do?  It’s a delicate balance, one for which I haven’t yet found the correct measurements.  I’ve never been able to juggle.

Maybe I need to be less hard on myself.  This feeling of not getting enough done is a mind game I play alone. I cooked.  I wrote and I read.  I took the kids to their activities and back.  I got the laundry done.  I am not Supermom or Superwife.  I’m just Not Quite Super.  But even that implies that I’m Almost There.

Maybe I need a change of perspective.  Maybe I need to see that I did the things I wanted to do – I had that weekend with my husband and our friends.  I want more time to jerk around on the internet or read a magazine or watch TV so I’m going to blame the to-do list for keeping me from it, even though we have clean clothes to wear and the toilets are sparkling AND I spent an inordinate amount of time this week looking at pictures of funny animals on the internet.  Okay, the toilets aren’t sparkling.

One of these days I’ll stop complaining about my life and what it has become.  Maybe that day is today.  If not, there’s always tomorrow.




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32 comments:

  1. I like to remind myself at the end of the day, of all the things I'd accomplished, even if it's just doing a load of laundry and making dinner, and playing with the kids. Because those things do matter, even if they seem minor. Because when clothes don't get washed for a day or two, or when dinner doesn't get made - shit piles up and people go hungry. Not minor things.

    So I think you can pat yourself on the back for doing what you've pulled off!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Alison! I do try to keep things in perspective. Doing four loads of laundry (or more, usually) in a day is quite a job, even if I'm not beating our clothing against a rock to get it clean. I do have to cut myself some slack sometimes.

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  2. I feel this way all the time. Every day I start off with a massive I WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS list and by mid-morning, I'm moving things around, putting things off, or removing them altogether. Mostly I make deals with myself - if I get the laundry done (necessary, but not something I want to do) then I can sit down and write a blog post (something I want to do). It's a delicate and tricky balance, and I'm not sure I'll ever get it quite right.

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    1. I don't often get it right, either. My problem is this list that openly gapes at me while I'm sitting at my desk. It's full of things that should be done but aren't timely - they could be done anytime. Like "Go through pictures" and "Wash window screens." I could throw the list away and no one would know.

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  3. It does sound to me like you have it about 100% - you ARE almost there. I personally believe that is as good as it gets and there is no way anyone ever has the to-do list mastered.
    I have a big calendar hanging in my office and I break down my week by writing one or two things I want to accomplish in there every day (walk the dog, clean and cook is always implied). And they are not big things, believe me. I usually work on that in the morning and it feels so good to cross them off the list. Then I give myself permission to do whatever - and that feels equally good (even better, actually ;) ) Women are just people as well and it's ok to cut ourselves some slack.

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    1. You are so right, Kerstin! We are just people and only individual ones at that. I do not have assistants to do my scut work. Although if I did I'm sure I'd still find other things that I'm not doing that make me feel just as guilty.

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  4. Great ending to this post. :-)

    (And great beginning and middle too). I'm going to mull over that concept of not feeling guilty because you had a great weekend and did what you want. The must-dos shouldn't have such a very large place in our psyche.

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    1. You are absolutely right about the must-dos. What are they doing there, anyway? No one told me that these things HAVE to be done. They are mostly non-essentials, anyway.

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  5. I love how your last sentence just wrapped up this post like a little present! :)

    Speaking of the present (lol), mine is much like yours. And you are right, the patience is an important part of the equation and I am just really realizing that so imagine my life so far! HA!!

    I just try to remember that I can only do so much and that my family and the household stuff come first. I know it's hard though at times. Oh so hard... xo

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    1. It sure is hard! I have to remind myself that I am in good company. :)

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  6. I'm so much a procrastinator. I look around my house and think, "didn't I just clean that?" "Why is that there again?" "where did all the laundry come from, I just washed?". So yeah... I totally get this. All of this stuff that's never ending. Soap scum keeps building up and I'll step over that pair of pants a few more days because I really just don't have time to do it all. I wish I did, but I don't.

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    1. I convince myself that I do have the time, and feel bad that I'm not doing anything to get things accomplished. But of course no one has the time to do all the things on my list in a day. I really need to get rid of that list.

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  7. I relate so much to this. I do the same thing; pressure, pressure to get stuff done. Then look back and wish I had done more.
    Some days I am good with all that I got done and feel relaxed. But other days, not so much. I get it.

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    1. It sure is a roller-coaster, isn't it? I wish I could feel totally accomplished every day. What would that level of satisfaction feel like?

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  8. You KNOW I can relate to this. I feel like I can accomplish a million things in a day, but as I lay head to pillow at the end of the day I think, "damn those 2 other things I wanted to do. I am such a fail." But I did a MILLION THINGS...and I discount them in a snap because of two things that didn't get done.

    Let's just ditch it all and have lasagna.

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    1. Those last 2 things... oh, how I get you. It's so reassuring to know that other people feel the exact same way. AND that lasagna is always there to help us feel better about everything. :)

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  9. I don't think that anyone ever lay on their deathbed bemoaning the laundry that sat an extra day or two before it was folded. Me, I HATE laundry. Not the actual washing, but the folding and putting away. I do it because my family needs clean clothes, and they have them even if sometimes they have to go to a basket of (clean) laundry to find a favorite shirt or their soccer shorts because I had other stuff going on. The older I get, the more I understand that Mama needs to be happy if everyone else is going to be happy, which means that it's okay to give myself permission to do things for myself sometimes! If my house was perfect, nobody would appreciate it but me anyway, and I would be miserable because it would mean I spent no time anywhere else.

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    1. You really hit the nail on the head. Nobody would appreciate the perfect house except me, and that's no fun. I can enjoy the accomplished feeling of a job well done, but I appreciate it more when other people in my house have helped me do that job.

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  10. Congratulations on taking the time to get away with your husband. That together time, especially surrounded by close friends, reminds you that there is more than the daily grind. I think that is why it felt more like a weight on you this week - you were reminded that there is more than doing laundry and household chores, which can feel so all encompassing until you step away.

    Maybe "tomorrow" you can find time for some of those things you miss doing. Personally, making a treaty with dust years ago (It doesn't hurt me, I only disturb it if I'm having a party) has saved me countless hours that I have dedicated to activities that mean more to me. Perhaps you can find something that can slide to give you some precious minutes.

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    1. You are so right - I think that is why I felt weighted down by all this mundane - because they aren't ALWAYS there. My other trouble is that I have been doing this so long that I feel spent from doing it. Maybe I should let just a little more slide. After all, everyone here is capable of doing for themselves and the family in some capacity. I just have to help them see it.

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  11. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. The last 2 weeks of the month are always so busy for me with deadlines. I only have a few hours 3 days a week with no kids, and otherwise I have to work at night, which means almost no leisure time. When all my assignments are turned in, I rejoice in the free time, and instead of cleaning the house or planning the meals like I know I should be, I want to browse World Market or read a book. And then I think how SILLY I sound because working parents (full time, outside of the home) don't get to say, "Hmmmmm....should I clean the bathroom or go visit that store I've always wanted to check out but never could because I always had kids with me...."

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    1. We are our own worst enemies. If I want to sit at the computer for five hours doing nothing productive, then so be it. I should feel blessed about that instead of guilty. Sometimes I think the guilt is the only thing keeping me from living a life of total sloth. :)

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  12. I understand - it's a subject that floats around in my head all the time. All. The. Time. I think women today are programmed to believe that we are expected to be Super at everything - Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Career Person (whatever career it may be), Super Friend, Super Daughter, Super Caregiver...and the list goes on. Maybe we just aren't chemically wired to be able to shut out the "stuff" and do one thing at a time without worrying about what isn't being done or feeling guilty about it. All we can do, I think, is decide what is most important - meeting the deadline or getting enough sleep. Doing the laundry or taking the "me" time. There is no right or wrong answer - only what we decide is right for us and our family in any given moment. We have to make it up as we go along - no generation of women has had quite the scenario of, well, everything that we have today. And yet, somehow, we decide that it's still necessary to judge ourselves on the traditional mores of days past. No wonder we're confused and conflicted and guilty. :)

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    1. You're absolutely right. My normal is so different than the one posed fifty years ago for someone in my position. In fact, my normal now is so different than the one I had a year ago. Am I just having trouble adjusting? I need a handbook for this life.

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  13. Today I moved the sewing machine from one side of the desk to another. That's about all I accomplished. And I won't even pretend that I actually use the thing..Thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. I've had days like that, Corie. So many. But now you know how heavy the sewing machine is! Accomplishment!

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  14. You work (and do everything else considered somewhat necessary) to live. You do not live to work. Putting stuff off until tomorrow (or the next day, and I'm even more fond of the day after that) usually means the crisis in posed - or the need you perceived to tackle - has passed by the time you get to it. I'm rarely disappointed in having such perceptions dashed.

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    1. You are so right, Joe! I've some items on my to-do list that have been there for months. One has been there for over a year. It's obviously not pressing. So what am I worrying about?

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  15. I struggle with this balance a bit too, but I think I've let go of some of the guilt. I have no idea how, so don't ask me. ;)

    Maybe it's time to put "jerk around on the Internet" on your to-do list? Those things are important too.

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    1. I think releasing the guilt comes from being tired of it. At least that's the truth with me sometimes.

      And jerking around on the internet is one of those things that I am finding is very important! xo

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  16. I have the same mind game playing over and over and over. There's always more to do and more I want to do, and never enough time to do it all.

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    1. There's never enough time for all the stuff!!

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