It’s always tempting to describe my life as so busy, but it’s not really the busyness that gets me. There are lots of people who are so much busier. It’s more the constant flow of things that gets me. Like there is nothing particularly frenetic about trying to organize a closet and buy a couple of Christmas presents and make dinner, but when you add the needs (both real and imaginary) of two kids it somehow feels incredibly blurry and busy.
It takes effort not to believe the hype, especially when I am my own best spin doctor.
So I’ve decided that I really only need two resolutions for this January: to work harder and to be less attached to the results.
By harder, I don’t mean busier. I don’t need to do more stuff. I do stuff every minute of my waking life. But it’s not always the stuff I want to be doing. I do a lot of unintentional, mindless stuff. A lot of reactive stuff—letting my day be dictated by diaper changes and juice requests and wow-it’s-been-a-long-time-since-I-loaded-the-dishwasher. I would like to be more intentional about my days with the kids and more disciplined about my own work.
(Speaking of, I finally got my files back from the laptop that died right around the time Iris was born. 3 novel manuscripts, hundreds of pages of notes, poems, essays. I spent an evening going through them… now I just need to make a plan for where to best focus my time and get back to work.)
So yes. More focused, more proactive and less reactive.
But less attached to the results too. That’s the other thing that causes a lot of frustration and ego bruising. I feel like I work really hard to keep clean laundry at the ready and the kids happy and meals prepped and a certain number of words chalked up at whatever deadline I have set for myself. So it’s frustrating—either I actually get to everything on my list and it STILL doesn’t mean the house is tidy or the kids are happy or the book is worth reading, or I don’t get to everything on my list and am frustrated for obvious reasons… or maybe I do get everything done and everyone’s great but somehow I feel like I should really get a little more appreciation.
Because ultimately I still believe that the results of my work say something about me. I actually believe I have control over them.
I’m sort of addicted to label sticking. Gold star if the day goes well! Like I have control over whether or not Iris slept well or Oliver decides he only wants to take milk from a bottle for the day. (Whaaaaat? Yes. He’s a slow eater and occasionally decides he would rather have pumped milk from a bottle because—contrary to what most of the books will tell you is normal—my body is sort of like “oh, you want milk? I’ll give you milk. IN YO FACE!” And also contrary to what you might assume, kids can be completely different. Iris had no problems except her own impatience—at times she would literally cry if I tried to feed her from my not-quite-so-fast side. Go figure).
Yeah, this is not the stuff I can control.
I would like to do my work because it’s the work I’ve chosen to do.
And that’s it. Anything else seems to lead me into the swamp. If I “have to” do it, then I become bitter. If I’m doing it because it makes life better for my faaaaaaaaaaaamily, then I start feeling like they owe me. If I do it because it’s commendable to be hardworking and achieve stuff, then I feel badly about myself if the day doesn’t go as planned or (even more annoying) find myself saying mildly defensive things about how busy life is with kids when I’m chatting with friends. Busy is a spectrum. I don’t even know what busy means anymore. I’m just raising kids, and sometimes I enjoy the sensations that go along with that and sometimes I don’t. That’s all.
I think maybe it’s called integrity, that thing where you do the stuff in front of you to the best of your actual ability (and not your imagined ability, because we’re all awesome in there) and don’t get all freaked out and needy about the results.
Yeah. I think maybe I’ll just grab me some of that next year.
Anyone else have resolutions brewing?