There are days when it’s fine and good to push yourself. You set goals and try to reach them. You hope your kids can reach them with you. Or you make sure everybody else is at daycare because you have Things To Do.
Then there are other days. Most days, in fact. The best you can do is hope to keep people happy and try not to rock any really big boats. I kind of hate those days. And of course, today was one of them.
It started out well: playing at home, making dinosaur fossils in play dough and generally making a cheerful mess in the kitchen. Then a friend texted and we went downtown to the big park and playground to hang out with her and her kids. That, too, was fun. Lunch/snack at a nearby favorite eatery; much gawking and admiration of the 150′ crane that’s helping put lights onto City Hall; general merriment with the many statues and walkways and columns in our beautiful downtown landscape. (Jack Johnson’s “Jungle Gym” played in my head the whole time.)
But once naptime came and went, it was survival of the fittest. And none of us is very fit. It occurred to me, again (this happens a lot lately) that I/we need a vacation. And I mean, from all of it. From the bustle, the worry, the job-hunt, the child-management, the being-managed. And of course, we’re like the most utterly privileged people in the world, so that makes me feel bad for needing a break. But still…
What does a break look like? What does it mean to take time off when you’re a family and there’s no such thing? How do we find the downtime we so desperately crave?
It occurs to me that things change so unbelievably fast — from tired to wired in the two minutes it takes to drink a quarter-cup of mango juice. From wired to tired in the one minute it takes to get out of the tub. And for us grown-ups, too — at 6 pm I’m enjoying a glass of wine, wishing the kids were down so we could watch a movie and catch up with each other and maybe make brownies or something fun. And by 7, when the kids are actually down, I just want a quiet cup of tea and no conversation at all and a little time with my current novel.
Which brings me to my current dilemma: this blog. I’m finding the mandate of daily posting surprisingly rewarding, and I’m thrilled at the resourcefulness I’m able to marshall (shut up! It’s hard doing this every damn day! Of course it’s not Steinbeck!). But I’m also looking forward to October and the end of the mandate. Once I’m no longer “required” to post daily, what happens next? What do you other writers do? The discipline is useful, but it honestly feels like an imposition when I insist on putting something out there every day.
Anyway, these are the forms of “just about done”: with kids, with parenting, with being awake, with being civil, with writing, with posting, with processing the world in so many ways at once. It’s just plain hard to be always on. What do you do to let down, to “be done”?