Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Tyranny of Something Extra

Sometimes the day speeds by in such a blur.  Of sippy cups and soggy diapers and multi-step word problems.  I'm grabbing toys off the floor as I pass through rooms on the way to find out why so-and-so is shrieking only to be side-tracked by stepping into a mysterious puddle of something I pray, pray, pray is lemonade despite the disconcerting fact that we have no lemonade in the house.

There's cooking and cleaning and sorting and refereeing.  Nursing an infant and wrangling a toddler.  Pre-teen meltdowns and an inbox full of must-be-answered emails.

And after all that, I sit down at the end of the day, kick off my paint-splattered Dansko clogs and sigh.  Deeply.  And I say to myself "Why am I so tired?  I didn't even do anything today!"

Do anything.  A thing.

This crippling idea that unless I do at least one "thing" every day, something special and different...something EXTRA, that I can point to and say "look! this is interesting!", I don't deserve to feel tired or take a few moments to relax, is an absolute joy-suck.

Can I tell you what I've done so far today?

Awake with toddler-breakfast-4 kids dressed-self dressed-changed infant-7 kids (mine and 2 others) loaded into a van- 9 a.m. dance class- fire alarm- freaking out toddler-a few minutes on the playgound- dance class over-drive back home-7 kids into my house-fun and frolic- bye friends!- feed infant- change infant-"do your school work!" - load of laundry- load of dishes- listen to memorized poem- make lunch- start loaf of bread- hang wet laundry on line-"hey, did you finish your math?"- change kids out of pants into shorts-clear table-finally shower-feed infant- change infant-"yes, it sure is time for chores"-round up clothes and toys strewn willy-nilly-sweep kitchen floor-brew pot of coffee...

Yes.  All before starting this post.  And before the day is through I will have hauled the laundry off the line and back into the house, taken all the kids to church for evening CCD, brought them back home, put an infant and a toddler into bed and then, only then, will I start my work-work: a bit of social media management, some SEO optimized page descriptions for my employer, and a bit of whatever else I've been asked to do.  And all the while managing and mediating and answering the phone and letting the dogs in and out and in and out and wondering if it would be worth it to have our carpets professionally shampooed.

But no.  I will not have done anything.  

Friends, I am done with the tyranny of "something extra".  The things I have to do (all this mothering business) and the things I want to do (this blog, that writing work)...those are real things!  They take time and energy and effort.  They are good and helpful.  And just because I haven't managed to take people on a tour of a local dairy farm or sewn valances for my kitchen windows doesn't mean I'm not worthy of a little rest at the end of my day.

These regular things...they can be enough.

If I can do them, I've done enough.



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38 comments :

  1. yes, amen to that. there is no doing 'a thing' for ourselves while we are busy doing everything for everybody else. This is our season of life right now, and it will change when our children change.You do so much more than I do in one day. I've let the five kids and the homeschooling and the moving defeat me lately, so good for you!

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  2. The change into shorts from pants made the day sound pretty awesome!

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  3. Thank you for this.

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  4. That is so true! It's so pointless to compare my day to someone else's, since my kids/work/house/abilities/energy are my own, not theirs.

    I'm actually in the process of creating a TON of distance between me and a judgmental older sibling because I can't seem to stop trying to prove that I"m good enough (and she can't seem to stop gossiping behind my back and then encouraging me to be more charitable).

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  5. That is at least three times more than I have done today! We had a Halloween party last weekend and I got so burned out getting ready for that that I'm taking it easy this week. I actually took a nap while the kids napped today and woke up all confused and panicked, thinking it was morning. I'm just not used to waking up like that in the afternoon! Right now, I consider reading a book to my girls an accomplishment because the 18-month-old heckles me the entire time. So you are doing awesome!

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    1. The heckling 18 month old children- hilarious, frustrating stage, yes? You should try doing mad-lib-ish stories with them to entertain yourself:

      "There was an old woman who lived in a _______" and then let them yell out whatever they want. Hilarious and can pass for reading time if you stretch the definition just a touch ;)

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  6. I hear ya! But really, you do way more 'things' than you think. Every item you listed is a thing And interesting. So there!

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  7. Dwija - please know that you being a loving, supportive mama to your beautiful kids and a loving, supportive wife to your wonderful husband is doing something!! - the regular, normal everyday things of life are what I live for and I'm sure you are the same - I hate the days when things are crazy - please know that there have been many days that "Donkey Guy" has gotten me through a lot - I have looked longingly out the window, gazing into the sky saying, "I wish the Blue Angels would come right now". - if all else fails, plop the kids in front of the t.v., turn on Donkey Guy and for the love of all that is right get some lemonade!!!!!!!!!!!! - Jen

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    1. I had to read this comment out loud to Tommy and the kids. The Donkey Guy reference made our day!

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  8. Word. And I only have 2 kids at the moment. I'm afraid that once the kids start doing things and the homeschooling starts (mine are only almost 2.5 and 9 months) that my knitting will become that something extra that I used to do. You are doing amazing things. Otherwise - you wouldn't have so many devoted readers :)

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  9. Love love love this post. Bless your sweet heart for it! I needed this today.

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  10. Ahhhh I needed this today!!!!! Because some days.ko.one gets out of the jammies and way too much TV is watched and.popcorn is.considered a meal bit hey, we are all alive at the end.of it. Which I always.consider a.success!!!!!

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  11. Ahhhh I needed this today!!!!! Because some days.ko.one gets out of the jammies and way too much TV is watched and.popcorn is.considered a meal bit hey, we are all alive at the end.of it. Which I always.consider a.success!!!!!

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  12. Right now, just keeping kids happy is my something extra. And that can not be your baby - she is much to big already!!

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  13. YES!!!! It is SO WONDERFUL to know I'm not alone! And not even unusual in these fears and desperations and self-crippling thoughts!

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  14. Whoa. Did I ever needed to hear this today.

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  15. Most definitely agree! Sometimes I feel like I've done nothing all day, but at the same time I know I don't stop moving...and I wonder if I made a bullet list how long it would be of all the things a mom to littles does...even before 10 o clock! A regular job where you just did one thing all day would be cake!!

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    1. And go to the bathroom whenever you want...ALONE!

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  16. And you didn't even list EVERYTHING that you've done today. You forgot to mention that you undoubtedly provided loving support to your dear spouse as you shoved him out the door and didn't mention all the phone calls you inevitably received whilst in the middle of the most fiddly, uniteruptable (is there such a word?) tasks. Most importantly, you failed to mention that you did everything you listed with a prayer in your heart!

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  17. woah. yes! this is sooooo right. I did "nothing" today and I'm completely mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted!!!

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  18. Like others, I really needed this today. I feel like I should be able to "do it all" and then some. Thanks for sharing.

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  19. Wow, yes to this! With a four year old girl and one on the way in the next minute or two, I'm tired all the flipping time. But, I feel guilty about all the things left undone, like not painting the trim in the master bedroom, and not getting caught up with the dishes, and feeling guilty because I don't bring in an income and we're Dickensian poor at this point, and not getting my child to do themed crafts for each and every saint's day, and not remembering because of my preggo brain to brush my teeth and dress until 12:30pm. I somehow forget that I've taken care of the big stuff, reared a happy, healthy child, supported my husband and been kind to him and continued successfully gestating a little minion who is kicking the crap out of me as I type. So, yes. Thank you for this reminder. I'm going to write a list of everything I do tomorrow and see how it really looks.

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    1. Yes! Do! When creating AN ENTIRE NEW PERSON, there is really no other thing at all you should be expected to do. I mean, hello...YOU'RE MAKING A PERSON. #craycray

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  20. I try to make sure people have clean underwear every morning.

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  21. AGREED! You are a super woman! No really. Never forget it ;)

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  22. Yes, yes, yes. I'm glad you KNOW this. I marvel at how much you get done everyday. I only have two kids and 60% less laundry, and I'm still giddy from the amount of things I have to do or think I do. So you're amazing and enough and a lot.

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  23. Love love love this- you're the best!

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  24. I am so tired after just reading this! I understand completely. I feel like the weekend is all "entertain small child" and then the weekend is over and we aren't sure we accomplished anything other than consuming coffee and wine and a little sleep.
    But man it's worth it.

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  25. Ha! I think you hit a nerve here with all those comments!! And once again you wrote one of those posts that's been sitting in my head. This is so me. I only feel successful and pleased with my day if I've done something 'extra'. A home project, getting errands done, blog post, etc. I'm getting better (mostly because I don't often have TIME to think of something extra). I think that the need to be creative is what drives a lot of this for women and that's cool but for the days when it just ain't gonna happen, I know I need to be at peace with "just" taking care of the kids and home. It is more than enough.

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  26. You are doing AMAZING! I have trouble with only 1 kid ... so you are super woman! :-)

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  27. I have 2 very big girls who help out a LOT, make no mistake about that!

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    1. Dwija, As one of six girls, I can tell you, it means a lot for a mom to give her daughters credit for their contributions. I was raised with constant, "You never do anything around here." So, eventually I figured I'd stop doing so much since it never amounted to anything for her. Kids love being praised for odd things, like being great at cleaning kitchen cabinets/bathrooms, etc. It helps them take pride in being helpful/doing the job better than the minimum.

      My hats off to you for encouraging them!

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  28. I totally admire you for commenting on this. I can relate and I don't even have kids. I think mother culture is always whispering in our ear that we ought to be doing more and better... living is enough!

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  29. That's far more - FAR MORE - than I am currently accomplishing in a day. So there you go.

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