You’re right. That feeling you have as you stand over the ever-full sink of dishes, tears welling up, because nothing ever gets done. Completed. Accomplished.
It doesn’t. It’s one of the hardest parts of being a grown up that I’ve ever had to deal with. As soon as you think you’re done, it starts all over again.
Remember the feeling of putting a finished assignment in your backpack? It felt amazing. You could just chill the rest of the night, because you were done.
Ever clock out at the end of a long day at work and skip off to your car because you were DONE for the day and you go do whatever you wanted?
It’s not like that anymore. Not now that I’m a parent. I love being a parent. I am so immensely blessed to have these four precious people in my life. This isn’t about loving them. This is about loving me. I crave a feeling of accomplishment. I need to sit down at the end of the day and look back at a job well done, and I can’t. No matter how hard I work, this day still comes. The day I’m crying at the sink, wondering if it will ever get done and knowing in my heart that it won’t.
We have a home full of energetic children, eager to play and learn and move. They need to be fed and washed and educated. Meals are waiting to be cooked and bills are waiting to be paid. Dirty laundry is waiting to be discovered – just as you think you’re putting in the final load. Birds are dropping feathers, dogs are shedding fur, and dust bunnies are planning revolutions.
No matter how hard and fast we work, it will never be marked “done”. My list never includes a task that can be fully completed. It’s always a task that is just meant to keep one of the many plates spinning. Load of laundry, run the dishwasher, make sure bathrooms have toilet paper, take out something for dinner. Rinse, repeat.
I write, and I craft, to give me a brief feeling of accomplishment. I finished a post. I finished the blanket. I can mark something as “done”.
Here is where my own head starts to mess with me. Unless there is a justifiable reason (wedding, holiday, birthday) to warrant the putting aside of the to-do list to do something fun, I can’t do it. This means that on an average day, I can’t write or craft or do anything that could bring me a sense of accomplishment, until all the other things are done. Those other things are never done, not completely, not in a way that satisfies my brain. My motivation and inspiration disappear because I’m not getting a boost from having something be finished, and I start having difficulty in just making progress on all the daily tasks, even the easy ones. Fun circle of doom isn’t it?
This especially cold winter is only making things worse. In the spring and summer, I can send the kids outside for a bit, get something cleaned up, and actually see it stay clean for more than five minutes. No snowing dog paws on the freshly vacuumed carpet in June. Shorts and bathing suits take up less space in the washer, so laundry takes half the time. Picnics are held under the willow tree, crumbs landing in the grass instead of the kitchen floor. And sunshine. Glorious sunshine.
I can not make winter move along faster. I can not stop my children from learning and playing and leaving a trail of happy childhood messes behind them. I must adjust my thinking.
Reconsider my standards: am I expecting too much of myself and others in my house?
Reinstate a routine, even if it’s a flexible one: have I stopped requiring certain “must dos” to be done because I became overwhelmed by it all?
Rediscover joy: have I failed to focus on the blessings? the giggles? the “a-ha” moments that my children have daily?
Set a time: As mommas (all mommas, not just homeschooling mommas), our day is never-ending. From the moment the family is awake (if not sooner), until the moment the last sweet head hits the pillow, it’s game on for us. Set working hours. Set them for house work. Set them for school work. When the clock says it’s closing time, shut her down. Call it a day. That doesn’t have to mean you stop being mom. It doesn’t mean you have to ignore the socks on the floor, if you don’t want to ignore them. It means you stop, acknowledge a day’s work well done, and choose what you want to do next. Take a bath, watch tv, knit, read, write, without guilt.
Because you did work hard. You did do a good job. The dishes can wait.
Don’t let a dirty sink or crumbs on the floor determine your worth my friends. Jesus already told you what you were worth. You were worth dying for.
Socks on the floor can’t take that away.