I'm not the fun one. I never have been. Dave likes to tease that my idea of fun is scrubbing all the floors and then going for an eight mile walk. Haha. What makes that joke funny is it's true. I didn't learn to be fun, and it didn't come to me naturally. There was a tiny part of me that hoped I might miraculously be a "fun mom" when Nettie came, but it hasn't materialized that way. I'm a perfectly competent and even a doting mom, but NOT fun. Dave is a fun dad. My mom is a fun grandma. But I, I am the one who stays in and vacuums and folds laundry and cooks dinner while Dave and Nettie go sledding.
I can live without fun, clearly. But here's what gets me down. I can't seem to stop DOING. Doing everything and doing it well keeps me running and dissatisfied most of the time, and it interferes with the time - and the quality of time - I have with Nettie. I always feel like I should have been able to get more done in the day, and what I do get done, I find myself apologizing for. What started me thinking about this is was our old friend possum, in a roundabout way. Or maybe it was the sewing class or the foggy drive. But when I came in that night and Dave went out to search for our pesky friend, I did something really strange, at least for me. I laid down on the kitchen floor, right in the middle of all my bags of groceries and sewing basket and purse, just laid down on my back and stared up at the ceiling.
After a moment or two, it struck me what a poor texturing job the drywallers had done. And as I reflected on that, I realized that it had taken me almost four years to notice this. I have painted the ceiling, of course, and swiped cobwebs out of the corners, cleaned the light fixtures, but never really stopped to study it. Ughh, and now I have to reveal that this becomes a story of crying over a texturized ceiling.
To be fair, the ugly ceiling was NOT the culprit for my tears. Neither was the sewing class or the foggy drive or the possum. It wasn't even the fact that for the first time, I'd missed Nettie's bedtime. Okay, it was partly that. But mostly, I cried because the ceiling made me see just how closely I'm tethered. I give myself very little space. There are so few things in my life that I consider optional. Everything that fills my day is mandatory. Mandatory for a certain standard of cleanliness, or health, for routine and schedule, for learning, for edification, for productivity. I even make creativity a mandate some days. Create something, you unoriginal boob! I know this is a weakness of mine, this desire to accomplish and achieve, to measure my worth in how much I can do and how well I do it. But I never seem to shake free of it. And it limits me in so many ways.
See, it's not that I wish I had spent more of the last four years staring at my ugly ceilings. It's a metaphor again, if I can parse it out.
The ceiling is clear blue cloudless skies on summer afternoons that I've spent working when I didn't really have to. The ceiling is every sunset I've missed rampaging around the house, using that magical "golden hour" of light to track down and vacuum up all the dust and cat hair. The ceiling is all the naptimes I've forced myself to clean the bathrooms and the litter box and start supper, when what I really want to do is read poetry. The ceiling is bowing my head to an endless to-do list and never looking up.
I've heard that a good way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Our brains like habit, apparently. So I need to practice forgiveness. Skipping a chore and "being okay" with that, maybe even enjoying the freedom that affords. Like this morning, instead of eating breakfast at 8:30 the way Nettie and I usually do, I didn't get to it. So we had banana "nice cream" at 9:30 together. Nobody suffered; we enjoyed our treat, and I'm not a bad mom for doing what was easier today. And yesterday instead of cooking and cleaning all morning and putting Net off with promises, we just made Valentines. They weren't anything fancy. I didn't do any of the cool ideas off Pinterest. We just enjoyed painting and coloring and playing with tape together. Forgive me if this seems idiotically simplistic, but these are things I had to let happen in an intentional way. Being "okay with things" is not my default setting. Even when things go mostly according to plan, I struggle to feel okay about them. I always see what could have been better. And don't anybody use the P-word because yes; I know perfectly - dammit - well that's an issue and we're not even going into that today, okay? Today we're talking about "okay-ness" and "fun-ness" and not doing all the things. Ness.
Valentine's Day has plenty of haters, but we could all use a little love right now. I'm trying to give myself a bit more, and you should, too. Whatever it is you're struggling with, it's okay. You're okay. I'm okay. We're all going to be okay. Eat some ice cream, show someone you love them, spend time doing something that makes you happy.