"Let's go out to breakfast!" Dave said yesterday. I was off of work, and I'd just dropped Ben off at preschool.
But I had so much to do: Sabrina's bat mitzvah—her coming-of-age service and party—are happening next Saturday. I had a toast to write. I had to go to the bank and get money for tips. I had to put the final touches on the photo montage I made for her, which I've been editing and re-editing obsessively because summing up 13 years of your child's life in pics and video clips is no mean feat. Meanwhile, the house needed help: four out of five with us have had a stomach bug in the last week, and I wanted to Lysol it. d
My pause button: It is broken. Despite my best intentions, despite the fact that I am fully aware I need to relax more than I do, I am perennially on fast forward. Is this you, too? There are eleventy billion things I have to stay on top of or get ahead of, down to noticing we are almost out of t.p. (and for that, I give myself and all of us props—here.)
Once, I researched and wrote an entire article on this topic. I stuck with the experts' tactics for a while, then fell back into my decidedly non-lazy ways. The quote I most related to was from Ellen Langer, PhD, a professor of psychology at Harvard U.: "When people assume that if they don't get to their to-dos, their world will fall apart, that needs to be questioned."
It's true. If I fall behind—if I don't pick up all the toy pieces on the basement floor, if I don't get to that extra load of laundry, if I don't find the pair of scissors that has been missing for two weeks, if I don't remember to buy another box of our family's favorite granola bars, if I don't if I don't if I don't— then I might backslide into a point of no return in which chaos will consume my house and my kids will show up at school dressed in their footie pajamas or something like that.
I fear that. And so, there I am at 11:15 at night, emailing teachers and ordering gifts on Prime for parties my children are attending and doing JUST one more thing before I read and get to sleep, and then just one more and then...just one more. And where does this get me? Well, that's the thing: Where it gets me is that our family life does run pretty well, other than the occasional missed doctor checkup and that one time I forgot to pick up Sabrina at lacrosse practice. Everyone has clothes and sneakers that fit them, they are up to date on shots, they are fully stocked up on meds and important snacks and their writing utensils of choice. I attend the parent-teacher conferences. I fill out the camp forms. The groceries get bought. The house gets cleaned.
I feel these bursts of calm when I GSD. Crossing stuff off my to-list is my peace of mind, my salvation, my drug of choice.
But then: me. I'm dead last on my to-do list, unless you count brushing teeth and showering (and I sure hope nobody counts that as me time). As much as I may feel these bursts of resentment that Dave is not the person who notices we are running out of t.p. or knows when forms are due, he is the person who gets me to relax. (Well, other than his habit of watching Mad Money every evening.)
Yes, I have to prepare for next weekend. But there are spinach and Swiss omelettes to be eaten. And that's exactly when I had when Dave coaxed me to take an hour out of life on a Monday morning and we went to a diner and enjoyed.