Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time (part I)

(Me and my dreadlocks on day 5.
When your to-do list is long, something's gotta go...)

I've been thinking a lot about time lately. Every day I have a to-do list that would take a week to complete. Just feeding and cleaning up after and bathing and playing with my children could easily fill every moment. But I have to fit it laundry, vacuuming, toilet scrubbing, dusting, and tidying too. Then I have to go outside and water our flowers and garden. It would be really nice if I would get to cleaning out the car, too, because the smooshed up crackers got water spilled on them, so there is some serious saltine mush going on in the back seat. Next I'd like to spend some time reading spiritual material and meditating about it. I'd like to attend to my blog. Many days I have church jobs to take care of, which usually means making a dozen phone calls or so to arrange activities, rides, and lessons. And somewhere in there I should take a shower. (Today is Wednesday. I last washed my hair on Saturday. What does that tell you?) And those are the chores.* Then there is the projects list or the to-read list. There is no end to the fun ideas I have for home and yard improvement. No end to the things I want to sew. I even have the patterns and fabric just waiting for me! I am in the middle of at least 5 books (some of which I haven't picked up in like 2 years) and somewhere around 72 magazines. I'm desperate to find more time for running. And I always feel like I should be doing more fun, creative things with Blaine.

Oh, gone are the days of my childhood, when I would whine to my mother, "I'm bored!" And now I understand the irritation in her voice when she would reply, "I can find something for you to do!"

Every day I fight a mental battle with myself:

"It's OK, Anne. Just let the mess stay and get something else done."
"You were productive today, Anne. Just a different kind of productive."
"Your house doesn't have to look perfect all at once."
"Focus on the things that matter most."

Lately I have taken to ask myself a series of questions with every activity I engage in:
"Is this really what you want to be doing right now?"
"Is there something more important that you should be working on?"
"Is this the top priority this minute?"
"Will this make you happy?"

Yes, I am an over-analyzer.

I am slowly learning to let go of certain things. (Taylor could testify that I've really let go of keeping my kitchen floor clean!) It's hard for me to do, yet it makes me happier. I am getting better at slowing down and reveling. Some nights as I'm closing doors and turning off lights upstairs, I sneak in Blaine's room to peek on him. I kneel down by his bed and watch him breathe in and out. That's something I'd like to spend more time doing.

I should put that on my to-do list.
*note: I don't mean to sound whiny about chores. One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Return to Me, is when Grace's grandpa says, "I'm blessed with work." I share that sentiment.


Amy Jean said...

Wow, I could have written this. Instead I kicked my pile of toys and diapers out of my way to bring in the groceries and cried that my hubby could maybe do the dishes once a year! But...I echo that I am lucky and I LOVE my life! Glad I'm not alone...
ps. my fav line from Return to Me is: What was God thinking?!

Mrs. B said...

It's so reassuring to read about the same struggles that I tend to keep to myself for fear that I'm the only one who doesn't have it all together!

I got a surprise visit from Lesley C this week, and when I lamented the untidy state of my house, she told me that a messy house is a sign of a mother who plays with her kids, which I actually had done that day, so it made me feel a lot better.

(This is Trina)

Melissa said...

Well I am glad that I am not the only one with a million and one things I want to get done. And my kitchen floor is always a disaster. I think all the crumbs add texture. Right??

Jacque said...

I love multi-tasking. Rigt now I am reading blogs while giving spelling quizzes and correcting a math facts time test while waiting for an email response from my husband about a second hand jogging stroller I want to buy. If I listed all those things too I would really feel accomplished for the day. Hang in there girly!

Sally said...

Well you already know that I too share this time conflict so I'll just say good luck. Keep at it and I think/hope someday we will both figure out how to manage our lives instead of time managing us.

Katie said...

Anne - this has been on my mind SO much lately. I used to be really really good at accepting that the time I spent solely on caring for my children was time well spent, even if I didn't have tangible evidence of getting things done. However, my house was always a mess and I was unorganized (I am a natural slob). Now that I am getting way better at getting things in order in my household, I find myself obsessing over the items not done on my list at the end of the day when one of my boys needs extra mothering. It is so hard to find a balance.