My nemesis is my need to ‘catch up’
” I’ll be happier when I’m caught up on ________________________(organizing the toys, the kitchen, sorting photos on my laptop, our math work, renovating). It’s a trap I catch myself in frequently.
I realized a while back, after five + years of parenting, that I was chronically uncaught up on the laundry. It felt as though it had been a lifetime since I had seen the bottom of the basket. “Just one more load”, I’d say to myself, only to forget about that last load in the wash, which always calls for a soak and rewash the following day. Sigh. “Just two more loads until I can feel a complete and total sense of control over my world”.
I’ve even tried this thing where I did a load every day, regardless of sorting, so that I was always ‘caught up’. Until it hit me……EVERYONE WAS STILL WEARING THE CLOTHES!
So….I, after many failed attempts ( small fabric-induced panic attacks), gave up trying to play laundry- catch- up, and since I just couldn’t picture the six of us willingly living our lives in the nude (considered it, likely wouldn’t convince the entire family), I chose to accept that there will always be dirty laundry.
Years have passed since that mindset change. I now wash the kid’s laundry and my own once a week because that’s how long it takes for us to acquire a load per person (Papa Bear tackles his laundry and Big Brother has been doing his own since he felt that it was easier to put clean, folded clothing in the hamper rather than in drawers). I also gave up sorting. Yep.
After a child’s laundry migrates from the dryer, it stays in their corresponding basket, and I fold one load a night. That’s it. No rocket science. No pressure. No empty baskets. I should also say, that although I’m nervous to admit this publicly, this brilliant idea was, in fact, my husband’s. I should have listened years ago honey….take it while you can.
I find this laundry lesson has spilled into other parts of my life. I grocery shop when the food is gone, rather than every few days to keep things stocked. I clean the floors when they are dirty, rather than preventatively. I clean the kitchen while making dinner, even though we’ve messed it up all day long. And finally, my most brilliant plan is that we all clean our home together on Sunday nights, for just an hour, before the week begins. I used to spend everyday trying to ‘keep up’ only to find myself drowning in an endless list.
Perfection isn’t possible.
Just a woman wearing clothes, enjoying the journey,
There are times when I feel like I’ve got this all under control, and then there are times when I don’t know which way is up.
Sometimes things flow beautifully. Kids are happily working on projects of their own choosing, and they just so happen to involve reading, writing and numeracy. The counter tops are clean, I’ve showered and put on mascara, and the beds have clean sheets.
Then the following week, two children are digging through baskets of unfolded laundry for unmatched socks and underwear, there are tiny legos on the carpet, dog hair on my pants, and for lunch it’s peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Oh wait, there’s no peanut butter…
There could be any number of reasons that things aren’t working optimally, but most of them revolve around one main concept, connection. Sometimes what’s missing is time to connect with my partner, and sometimes time to connect to my own needs and dreams, BUT when there is disconnect between the kids and I, they’ll be grumpier, more defiant, and mopey, and everything kind of crumbles. After all , we are also co-workers, teacher and students, friends…
Sometimes connection looks like working together on a craft of their choosing, not something that will make me feel like a great parent (sooo hard!)
Sometimes connection looks like snuggling and actually watching a movie together (no scrolling!).
Sometimes connection looks like talking and laughing together.
Connection is involved.
It means getting up and joining in on their project clean-up, or brushing our teeth together rather than sending them to tackle the job, only to find myself anxiously waiting while they got lost along the way (YOU’VE GOT FIVE SECONDS…it really doesn’t work).
It means sliding the clothes on the hangers while Wildflower sorts her laundry, or involving Moonchild in dinner prep even though I’d rather do it alone. It means a pause in writing this post to hear out Big Brother as he shares what is on his mind. Not all of the time, but enough of the time.
Sometimes connecting is hard because I’d just.like.five.minutes.to.my.self!
But it almost always solves our problems. The effort is a valuable investment.
When I first began this project, five years ago. I was scared.
How can I put my thoughts and feelings out there, into the big and overwhelming world when my real voice is so small? Will people think me vain, unoriginal,self-indulgent?
I was terrified, but I did it.
I did it because I needed a platform for all of the ideas and feelings that had been swirling around inside me, and I knew that maybe others could relate.
At the time, my thoughts about mothering, about being female, about love and life and sadness were on the edge of swallowing me up after spending a lifetime not sharing them.
I know now, what held me back was the disconnection from the Sesame Street values I had gravitated to as a child. Yes, for real. Like many kids of my time, I learned about sharing and caring, cooperation, kindness, and acceptance through that daily hour of television.
And then I went to school.
I learned very quickly that this is not how the world works.
Throughout the years, many of my peers learned to become desensitized to cruelty and violence through consistent exposure, but I did not.
I got belly aches.
I learned to ignore the connection between my mental health and my tummy because I had to get up every day and go to school. Ignoring my feelings became a means of survival, and I gladly wore my title as too wimpy, like a shield. I learned to function in a world that didn’t accommodate children’s feelings, despite how loving and caring some of my teachers were.
Gradually I began to accept that my views should remain quiet behind my rose-coloured glasses, and so I left them there for too many years.
Until I gave birth to a small human who gave me great strength. I looked my fear of using my voice in the eye. We squabbled a bit and then came up with a compromise.
My blog was born.
If you’ve followed along, long enough, you’ll notice that some of my favourite topics are just grown up versions of those Sesame Street- inspired lessons, things that are being brought to light in the media as women and children and people of colour are being recognized as humans, while many men are making strides towards becoming more sensitive people. Everything is woven together. Everything is interconnected.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Sometimes I don’t say the right things, there are easily a handful of syntax errors per post, and some things I say might strike a nerve, but through creating these works, I’ve allowed myself a chance to heal sadness and have faith in my strong belief that people are ultimately good. I’ve chosen to share these adventures with you because I know that although we may not agree on everything, we are likely not that different.
Human connection, even through modern means, carries great value.
Thanks for coming along for the ride,