I have this strange rhythm to my life, with two days a week of daycare and all my “work” crammed into those two days. I say this not to discount the important work of homemaking and childrearing and keeping our lives moving ahead that fill all the rest of my days; I say it because I’m guessing lots of other people struggle to differentiate between paid (or pay-able) work and the other critical unpaid occupations of our lives.
Anyway, I jam these childcare days FULL of expectations. I schedule appointments and meetings and regular commitments; I plan major writing initiatives; I intend to do research and also tackle the big household projects I can’t take care of with kids around. But then I end up overwhelmed. My task management app, Any.Do, invites me DAILY to “manage my to-do’s.” Clearly it thinks I’m overwhelmed, too.
Today, for example, I left the house shortly after 7 am to take Ezra to a specialist appointment in Portland. An hour down, fifteen minutes with the doc, and an hour back. I make good use of the time singing endless rounds of ABCs and “Three Little Birds” with Ezra, so that feels fulfilling, at least. And then I go straight to the gym after dropping him at daycare. (Let me stop right here to say that I’ve contemplated saving time by skipping the gym, but apparently I have the good fortune of a crappy back that causes pain if I skip my lifting regimen for more than three days, so I guess I’ll run with that. But don’t mistake this exercise commitment for either Virtue or Vanity. It’s simple self-preservation.) Anyway, I’m home, dripping with sweat, by 10:30, and I’m so starving that I have to eat right away rather than shower. So then I’m disgusting but dry, and I figure I’ll Get Things Done before I shower, and that lands me on the couch with the computer, and from there on out, my friends, it’s game over. I’ve cleaned out my inbox; followed up on old business; drafted letters of recommendation for former students (in my head). I’ve played innumerable games of Bubble as I strategize my next move, and I’ve strongly considered showering. And napping. And Doing things. But to consider, alas, is not to do. And when I get this tired, there’s a whole phenomenon of not-caring that kicks in. I need to mobilize to CARE and then I’ll do things. Or I can just get really hard-nosed about it all and force myself to do things, assuming the caring will follow…the arranged-marriage version of life-planning. Huh.
And there, you see, is the rub. It’s a considering kind of day, not a caring kind of day. I want to loaf about. I want to read novels and watch bad tv and sip cocoa. Is that so wrong? Am I allowed to just DO that? It feels like no, not with the board meeting tonight that I need to present at, the upcoming discussion group I need to plan and write an email to, the three novels by my bedside I need to finish before I can finalize the discussion group work. Not to mention the excellent contacts I need to get back to regarding the Possibility of Paid Work. Sigh. Perhaps I should organize my day into segments: gym; computer; existing work; board work; potential work; house/yard work. Maybe that would get me off the couch.