Hurry Up and Slow Down
I’ve been craving time, as I often do. I need time, I say, lots of uninterrupted hours in a row, to get a handle on the insane backlog of work and home projects that I have allowed to pile up in office, on my list, and in my psyche.
I’ve been complaining about it for several weeks now. I do this on a periodic basis, I realize. I let things pile up and then I declare “No More Things!” and I make a little progress and then I slide and let it all pile up again.
I feel different this time, though. It’s a combination of life events, my children growing older right before my eyes, and the fact that I finally wrote out the list of overdue projects on a white board that I can see every day. Erasing items from the white board helps me feel like the burden is getting lighter. I like that.
Yesterday was Kyle’s third day of summer vacation, and he went to day camp until 4pm. I was very productive and crossed several things off my list and made progress on another. Stewart came home early with Brady. All four of us were home before 5 PM. The boys played in the backyard, but I was unable to stop moving. While they cavorted, I cleaned out the messy desk where we keep their art supplies.
For the past few weeks, I have been unable to bring myself to go grocery shopping.
When Stewart and I banded together to create a household budget, one thing I knew I could control was the grocery spending. Sort of. I don’t have a set number in mind when I head out to Ralph’s or Costco. It’s more of a loose “spend as little as possible” type of goal. So every Sunday afternoon I took stock of what we had on hand, noted the family’s schedule for the upcoming week, planned dinner menus around it, created a grocery list, and off I went. I even started to embrace the project as “me-time” because I felt it was a sanctioned reason for me to go off on my own. Hunting and gathering supplies for our family.
It worked well for several months. I knew what I was going to make for dinner almost every day. There were slow cooker meals, homemade pizzas, new pots of “glop” – Stewart’s favorite meal. (“Glop” is the word he joyfully uses to describe one-pot meals or casseroles.) My Fresh Diet experiment happened in there, and an adventure with Dream Dinners, too.
Then I had to travel a few times. Hawaii, Connecticut. Our Sunday routine was disrupted, and as I often tell people, I am a mess without a routine. On top of that, the fast approach of summer had me feeling anxious inside – what to do with the kids? I’m torn between wanting to send them off to day camp the whole summer and wanting them to have time and space to lay around and do as much nothing as they desire.
So for the past few weeks the item “grocery shopping” has been on my to-do list, dutifully moved forward every day as the calendar pages flipped. Even when I have had the time, I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around menu planning or recipes or I have been loathe to concentrate on making a list. I dragged one or both of the children with me to pick up a few things, but inevitably I remembered, upon arriving home, something crucial that we needed.
I hate when that happens.
It turns out too much time on my hands can be just as bad or worse than not enough. When I’m too busy, I’m better at allocating the tiny open slots in the schedule. When a day stretches out before me with no obligations, I procrastinate. This morning after I showered I painstakingly pincurled my wet hair. I folded laundry. I needed a snack. And I still have to go grocery shopping.
On a day like today when I don’t know what time Stewart and the boys are coming home, it’s even worse. Time is running out on my long day even though I don’t know how much time I have.
Another thing I have been saying to people lately is that I need a work break. I want to quit all of my jobs and just be a mom. I want to send the boys off to school in the morning and clean my house and make sure there is enough food inside it and that all the clothes are clean and the bills are paid and I want to organize that one closet and finish painting the family room and be rested and cheerful when everybody comes home. I want to color and make things with the kids and fix a nice dinner for the whole family and take a walk together afterwards. I want to help the children write thank-you notes and work in the yard with my husband and drive to the beach on a whim. I want to spend long lazy days at the pool without checking social media apps on my phone and caring that the blogging world is passing me by at breakneck speed. I want to sit down at the computer and blog with joy just because I had an idea, not because I owe somebody a post.
I want to do that until I get bored.
That would probably be a short time, but I still want to do it. Someday.
The last time I remember being bored was 1997.
I was 25 and living in Santa Monica with two roommates. I had a job that I could leave at the office. I didn’t have kids, I didn’t belong to any clubs, I wasn’t responsible for anything but myself. That summer, right before I met Stewart, there were several days when I was bored. I didn’t have close friends living nearby, or family. Anything I did came from within.
I had no idea.
It’s 1:00 PM now, far past any hint of morning. Time to move on with the day, time to stop indulging myself. Time to try, once again, to go grocery shopping. Ask me on Monday if I managed to pull it off.