I think I learned something for the first time today.
Did you know that you can only do so many things in a day?
Now wait a minute...before you say, "Well, duh, Stace, thanks ever so much for that piece of wisdom...Oh, look, Trivia Crack is calling," give me just a minute.
You can only do so many things in a day.
I live in a world of opportunity these days. There are LITERALLY tens of things I could / should / would do in a day.
Let me give you a list...
I should...feed the kids, do laundry, walk the dog, pay the bills, wash the dishes, wash them again, make the lesson plans, school the kids, work a little, weed the yard, mow/weed whack the yard, get the tires checked, grocery shop, menu plan...
I could/would...grow a spectacular garden, work on my quilt, craft with my kids, paint a wall, paint another one, get the windows fixed, consider a new fence, walk the dog, watch the TV, take a bath, cook something fantastic but not particularly good for me, blog, play with friends, call friends, text friends, post on facebook...
I have a list somewhere around here of all of the things I really feel I should or would like to do. It is at least 4 yellow legal-pad sized pages long at this moment. I wrote it as a means to remember the stuff...all the stuff...that slips my mind so that it doesn't get completely lost. It was written as a dream list. A "Wouldn't it be wonderful if only I could accomplish THIS stuff" list.
Somewhere a long the line, it has become something else in my mind. Instead of a good thing that someday I will accomplish these things, in time...it has become a, "GREAT! Look what I didn't finish AGAIN today" burden of guilt that rides around on my back, like a grasping monkey.
In my life, if it needs to get done it's up to me to see it done. If something in the house or with the car needs to be done, I do it. When the kids eat, sleep, need to be medicated, need to learn something new academically...that's me. If the kids need to be trained to DO a household thing, because they are capable, because I need the help, because they should learn some basic skills before I foist them on some unsuspecting roommate or spouse someday...I'm the one who needs to train them. That's just the way it is. I don't always like it. Honestly, with a teen and tween and that other one who would prefer to remain ignorant in the ways of cleanliness, I don't like it A LOT of the time...but I do recognize that it's my job.
And I do that part. ALL.THE.TIME.
What I don't get to is the other stuff. The seemingly constant need to sort every busy area of my house...the pantry...the garage...the yard...right now, the front room.
The epiphany that I was telling you about happened BECAUSE of one of these things. I've needed to reorganize the garage for awhile. I've done a bunch of small projects around the house over the last few months and the tools have become jumbled, the paint cans scattered, and there were a few Christmas things that still needed to be put away in the boxes that were already packed and put up.
So I did.
I found everything, gave it a place. Made it possible to find the hammer and the drill and the paint and the screws and the handy pack of drill bits...all of those...to have a place. And I swept. The GARAGE. I swept it. And I spent about 3 minutes looking at what I had wrought...and oh my, dear reader, I found it good.
So very good.
And then I walked back into the house, where, while I'd been cleaning and sorting, people had been living...and playing, and wearing clothing, and playing with the dog...and now, to add insult to injury, wanted to EAT.
I gotta tell you...every single one of those "good" feelings broke open and oozed frustration right out on the floor. I remembered that I'd forgotten to remind Monkey-Face to empty the dishwasher, so she hadn't emptied the dishwasher. Because she hadn't emptied the dishwasher, Bean hadn't washed the dishes resulting in a dirty sinkful of grossness that needed to be washed before anything could be cooked . Bear had needed a clean shirt and because I was in the garage she had dug through instead put away the basket, meaning that I needed to either fold it again (the easier option) or parent her through re-folding and now putting everything away.
So very NOT good.
Then I had a stroke of luck. Right as I was about to lose my mind in a most un-motherly-like fashion, my neighbor (let's call her Dimples) showed up. Dimples has a special place in my heart in that I NEVER feel like I need to clean up for her. She is new to me since the new house, but as far as I'm concerned, she's family...which is handy for this story.
So in she came, right into the worst of the mess, right at the worst possible moment where I had been seriously considering loading the girls into the car and dropping them off somewhere unsavory...and she said, "How's the garage?"
I'm sure there was more conversation. I'm sure I blubbered about what a mess and a failure that I was and how someone more mature than I was could do all this better and probably make it look easy and anyway, someone more mature wouldn't want to kick the wall (I didn't, but if I'm honest, I wanted to).
But in that one question, "How's the garage," I knew that I HAD done what I was supposed to do. I'd done a good job with a BIG project and because I had, I'd be able to find things that I'd been having trouble putting my hands on and had lessened my stress level. And honestly, I was proud of myself for taking the time to do it.
I realized that I did THE thing I was put on earth to do in that moment...for that day...and I realized for the first time, just like any other person, I can only do exactly how much I can do in any given moment. If I do this...then I can't do that. It's simple.
I've spent a lot of years making less of what I do because it isn't what another person does...comparing my worst to other people's best. It's wrong-headed and destructive, and I'm not alone.
If I want to do this, need to do this, feel compelled to do this...then I can't do that. My list. My choice.
It's a pretty freeing thing actually. Realizing that you CAN NOT do it all and forgiving yourself for it even in the midst of wishing that you could. I actually kind of like it.
I think I may start a new list. A list of things I did INSTEAD.
Because I want to remember.
See ya around...