Yesterday was the first “real” day of summer break for my two youngest and me (no remaining school functions or purely recovery days from the fullness of the last few weeks).
As noted in yesterday’s post, I’m realizing that I do like some structure to my days, so I figured it’d be good to start the routine of all of us doing a little academic or work work and then house cleaning/organizing work in the morning. Because I’ve found my motivation for this sort of stuff is greater in the morning and then sharply drops off. And it’s nice to have a completed post and clean clothes to wear.
A couple of years ago, I started the practice of writing out notes of things I want to get to or just remind myself about the night before, so I was armed with my Robin-do list at the start of the day. Then the great idea of writing out a short list of things my kids needed to do before they could try a new reading app they’ve been excited for popped into mind. Out came a whiteboard for each.
For the kids, the whiteboard list idea seemed to work out well. They like to use whiteboards, and things being clear helped them get through the Mom said to do list pretty quickly and with minimal fussing. Win.
On my end, it was a bit of a different story. Yes, my list was helpful (I do like writing things down — it helps me straighten out and make sense of what’s in my head). I felt inspired and was moving through things, working on projects I care about, and feeling good about it all. However, as the morning progressed, Crazy Go Fast Lady* started knocking. Her motto: “Must do more!!!”. And she loves rigidity and the utopia promised by getting “there” and finding “balance” in life. She insists that if we can get on the right schedule with the right structure, I’ll be productive and successful and get so much done, all of the time, and my life will be amazing!!!!!
Oh, Crazy Go Fast Lady (or Guy) — You actually drive me crazy.
I used to think I needed to totally banish her from my life (I don’t ultimately find her “help” that helpful). And heavens knows I’ve tried. But she seems to keep finding a window. So, perhaps like pretty much anything else in life, this, too, is another time to remind myself that life is messy. And to quit fighting with her when she shows up (because it just seems to end in a yelling match with me forgetting what I know I know about “there” and “balance”).
Maybe instead, when I notice she’s knocking, I can use the internal pressure I start to feel of “must do more right now!” as a quick smack in the face reminder that I’m starting to lose touch with my world (and the people around me), and that I probably need to put my list down and slow my roll. Because I’m not actually going to get that much more done even at her seemingly crazy fast speed (whatever gets done typically gets replaced by something new added to the list as a result of not actually paying attention and moving too fast).
On “there” and “balance” — here’s what I’ve learned.
“There”: There is no THERE where everything will be perfect and we’ll have it all figured out forever and ever and ever. In high school, I thought I’d finally get my shit together once I got to college. Then once I got to college and didn’t have it together, I figured it’d happen once I graduated. But once I graduated, no dice — I still didn’t have my shit together. Getting married and/or having kids didn’t help me get it all together, all of the time, either. (Frankly, I found I had it less together.) But surprise, surprise, the feeling of more ease I was hoping I’d find by getting “there” — I’m finding it more as I ditch the idea of “there” and remind myself that life IS messy and no has it all together, all of the time. We’re all a hot mess sometimes. And it’s okay.
“Balance”: Maybe some people find a perfect time spread that feels good to them, they like, and is easy to stick with it. And if so, awesome — rock on. For me, I’m not finding that the case. (And I’ve tried to implement a lot of structured schedules, to little fanfare and big feelings of failure.) What if there isn’t an even and stable “balance” in life (at least to a large extent)? I’m thinking that my “balance” doesn’t lie in getting my work/life/family/sanity seesaw to stay unmoving (dare I say rigid), balancing straight across on the fulcrum. My life is ever moving, ever changing, ever fluid. What if, instead, it’s about getting more in touch with the ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and letting myself feel them, so that when a side no longer feels good to me where it is (whether that’s up, down, or in the middle), I’m able to more quickly pick up on it and adjust? Maybe it’s not about staying in a perfectly balanced state; it’s about shortening the gap between when I notice things are starting to feel off and adjusting accordingly.
After she showed up and we yelled a bit yesterday morning, I quit fighting with Crazy Go Fast Lady. And I remembered to show up the rest of the day (and the important things that needed to get done got done at a slower speed that didn’t leave me wrecked on the side of the road). If she shows up today, I will (eventually) remember what to do. And I will remind myself that dealing with my own Crazy Go Fast Lady will help my kids learn to manage their own.
I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday.
*Thank you to my lovely sister-in-law for sharing with me the name of this mover and shaker (and ultimately chaos maker who looks like she’s getting stuff done but ends up missing out on life), who can show up for any of us.