Flashback to when my entire life seemed to revolve around the micro-world of two-year-old!
I stumbled on this blog post while creating a site backup tonight. While scanning over the backup code (such an awkward way to read), I realized my “full set” also included the place where too many posts have died in infancy; the “unpublished” section. This graveyard is FULL because I get hung up on making things perfect.
When I was writing the post below my life as a mother felt like one big “lather, rinse, repeat” of repetitious tasks that keep me from doing what I really want to do. I still feel that way sometimes. Except God has been gracious to provide people and projects in this season that bring fulfilment. And because my daughter is now self-sufficient enough to be a part of that, I don’t find myself getting as lost as I once did in the repetition of the daily grind.
But here is the post anyway, resurrected and left just as it was written, in all its unedited (and admittedly imperfect) glory. Because some things never change. But they can get better. (Update: My perfectionism got the better of me; I went back and edited 🙂 )
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I feel like all I ever do these days is alternate between thinking my whole world revolves around my child, and wanting it to, and scheming (as I spin on my hamster wheel, completing, or not completing, one seemingly meaningless and repetitive task after another) how to hire a nanny to escape from it.
Can you relate?
My self-worth is so completely tied up in what I accomplish. I know, I know, my “self-worth” (at its core) comes from someplace else, but you know what I mean, right?! That end of the day satisfied feeling that you’ve done something measurable, calculable, and significant with your life.
I just don’t feel great about myself when my husband comes home from a long and hard day of work and battling traffic and all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, we had a play date, and after that I ran the dishwasher. . . Oh, and we sure did get in a lot of snuggle time this afternoon!”
And while that’s obviously (and hopefully) a gross exaggeration of what I do all day, I’m having more and more times when I feel like it isn’t. 🙁
Basically, I’ve never felt more like Jeff Daniels’ character when he’s opening his diner in the movie Pleasantville. Life throws him completely off-kilter when his hired help doesn’t show up and he doesn’t know how to move forward with the rest of his day. So he just keeps wiping the same spot on the 1950’s lunch counter until things get back to normal. By then he’s worn down the finish on the Formica.
I’m just going off memory here. I’ve seen this movie once (soon after it came out) and for some reason that is the scene that always stuck with me through the years whenever I was in the middle of a mind-numbing task. It pops in my head a lot now as I go through this season of my life. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Literally. (All those sippy cups.)
It’s not a perfect analogy but I have pretty much given up on accomplishing anything significant for the time being and am just resigned to do one little task after another while waiting for the next “interruption” (I feel bad even calling them that, can you say “mom guilt?”).
Right now, so much of what I need (and want) to tackle is mental but I don’t have the focus to even think about opening a new tab on my browser, reading, writing, organizing pictures, keeping up with the baby book, or backing up our photo library on the cloud subscription (that I’ve somehow managed, with the mental clarity of a stay-at-home mother of a toddler, to research, purchase and install. whew).
Sure, I can do dishes, start dinner, pack lunches, keep up with the laundry, scrub the floors, clean baseboards, repot a plant, run errands, sew a button, and even tackle a closet organization project with Muffin, and sometimes Nori, in tow. But this is because it’s physical work and it’s concrete (not conceptual) so I can always find my place again after an interruption.
But it doesn’t leave me satisfied or feeling like I’ve really done something with my time because it will all be there again tomorrow. This right here is probably another Pleasantville correlation.
I’m not finding adequate room and space in my days to be creative, to dream, think, get inspired, and to really roll with a fervor that keeps me up all night. So I feel stuck.
And don’t get me wrong, the interruptions all day long aren’t all bad. I mean, who doesn’t want to drop everything for hushed observation of a deer nibbling its way through the back yard, a rumble through the neighborhood with a red wagon, a Coleman tent in the living room for snuggling in to watch Baby Einstein videos, or reading the silliest of Dr. Seuss books over and over again?
But they’re constant.
And these days, desk work happens after hours, during naptime, or on my cell phone. Or it pretty much doesn’t happen at all. Because the moment I sit at my desk… there’s is an important (and urgent) “announcement” from my early-talking two-year-old.
“Mommy, I poopy!”
“I sit in your lap!”
“I fush da toilet!”
“My tummy hurts!”
“I go outside!!”
“Aunt Rachel! It BROKE!”
“My Maisy need her clothes on!!” (I redress this doll hourly.)
“We go bye bye!!”
“My colors, Mommy! My COLORS!”
Notice how every sentence ends in exclamation points. That’s not poetic license. Her demands are urgent. And if I don’t immediately act like they are she’ll make sure I do.
I’m becoming so used to it that it can be a welcome relief. Especially when I’m doing something I don’t care for and take the liberty of never returning to my desk.
But these constant “interruptions” and the demands that (of necessity) crop up throughout the day are not conducive to accomplishing the type of work that leaves me kicking back at the end of the day like I’ve advanced in life. It just feels like a 12 hour game of Whac-a-Mole and I haven’t even left my station (which is usually the kitchen). When I think about it too much I just feel behind and stressed.
So I try to kick myself into high gear when my daughter is about to nap. I clear the clutter, start a fresh pot of coffee, and get her down being careful not to get sleepy myself (this last part is tricky). But it’s never enough time. And I’m on auto-pilot responsiveness so I don’t know what to do with myself when I get a break. I’ll lose momentum and use that golden hour of naptime to continue with the familiar (like wiping lunch counters).
Sometimes I just watch my daughter sleep. Those curls, those cheeks, those lashes.
This means I could definitely use a month of 9-5 at my desk right about now, a Mary Poppins, and a full-time live-in housekeeper to attend to all the routine and repetitious tasks that vie for my attention. And I dream.
But then there’s this. . .
My life revolves around a two-year-old. And I’m in thick of it. But at the end of the day I’ve heard that once you wade through the repetitive, monotonous, and mundane. Once you’ve stopped wiping counters (and floors, and noses, and tushes) and have surfaced on the other side. This this THIS is something unmeasurable, incalculable, and significant that you’ve done with your life.
And I know it’s true.