Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Break from Home Sweet Home

Why is it that I can never get anything done at home? I dream of the day that home is actually an oasis from the world, instead of being the place that populates the majority of my to-do lists.

Right now I'm at a coffee shop 5 minutes from home, and I'm happy and feeling productive. I don't care that there's some crumbs on the floor or drinks to be made, because it's not my work to do!

When did home switch from being restful to being the source of my stress? It probably started the day we moved out of the rented apartment into our first house .... and of course, got markedly more noticeable after Eleanor was born.

Someday, I will accept that I am not superwoman. With one child, a dog, a cat, and a penchant for buying books ... my home will never be a spotless showcase. I will learn to look past the piles of unopened mail and dirty dishes, and just enjoy playing with Eleanor or allow myself to put my feet up at the end of a long day and read a chapter (or two, or three, well maybe just one more ....) without the oppressive guilt of undone laundry and unswept floors pressing down on me.

On the other hand, I also think that someday, I will be able to get more down. There's already a huge difference between this time last year, when Eleanor was only a month old, and today. Back then, I was lucky if I was dressed and teeth brushed by the time Keith got home from work. (And sometimes, it was a race to make it!) Now, that is generally a given. I am running more regularly. The fridge is regularly stocked and we aren't eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 10pm because we never got around to making dinner. Nor are we picking clothes up off the floor and dusting them off, declaring them "good enough" because there's just no time for laundry. So there's been improvement in our abilities to be good parents AND responsible adults, and I think it will continue to improve. Someday, I WILL reorganize the living room so everything that is shoved on the top shelf out of baby's way will actually have a home. I will start projects and finish them in something approximating a timely manner.

I think it's a matter of balance. Of meeting somewhere in the middle. Most days, I will do the dishes and be able to plan meals for the next day while throwing in a load of laundry and still make it to bed at a reasonable hour. On the days when I can't get everything done and am feeling overwhelmed, I need to allow myself the time to decompress and put off the to-do list until tomorrow.

Someday I will have that ebb and flow, the give and take between productive days and the days when I'm just getting by. And, on the rough days, I'll accept things a bit more readily because I will be confident that the next day or the day after that will be easier.

Someday, I won't have to go to the coffee shop to sit and think and not be distracted by EVERYTHING THAT MUST BE DONE BY ME ASAP. Someday, my home will once again be my restful oasis.


Jennifer said...

I can understand your sentiment, even if it isn't to the same extent as I live in an apartment and only have Mark and myself to look after. We moved in back in March and we are STILL unpacking. Last weekend I finally unpacked that last box in my office of stuff I wasn't sure where to put it. Mark gave me a couple drawers in his filing cabinet and that helped loads. I cleaned off my desk, shredded receipts, filed away papers. Mark hung a shelf above my desk and I placed photos and mementos. Now, when I walk by our study, I don't cringe when I see the mess (because the mess that's left is not mine!).

There is still more to be done but a little bit at a time and it seems like a huge amount. I think you have the right attitude. Sometimes it is more important to spend time with your family that spend time cleaning. :)

M. Lubbers said...

Jennifer: Whether a house or an apartment, certain parts of it can always be overwhelming! And moving is the worst. I'm glad you've got the study sorted out to the point where at least you don't have to avoid it entirely ;)

The attitude and balance are a constant struggle. But hopefully, overall, my values are in the right place! We'll see what Eleanor has to say about that in therapy someday ....

Jonathan said...

My big problem is never getting as far as the coffee shop. I remember (in the days before we had the kids) heading out on a weekend, and stopping by Starbucks for a coffee, and sitting with my notebook - recording random thoughts, and listening to podcasts.

Never happens now. I miss it.

M. Lubbers said...

There's an independent movie theatre just 10 minutes' walk from us. Monday nights the shows are cheaper; every once in a while we used to go on a Monday night just to go. My favorite part was the leisurely walk there and back, discussing life and the movie.

I know we'll get our free time back someday, and of course we'd never want to go back to not having children ... but I do miss the downtime.