Last night I did something that was as stupid as it was necessary—I pushed myself way too hard. I was aware of the moment where I should’ve been content with what I had accomplished but another force pushed me way past it.
I try and set some sort of goal to accomplish at home the days I don’t have school. I try and keep it something significant but simple. Yesterday, the goal was to mop the playroom. It provides immense gratification and it doesn’t take a huge amount of labor.
I got home and the kids were at Abuela’s house, in no rush to come home. I don’t hold this against them—they get endless amounts of cookies, chocolate milk, and cable TV over there. I seized the opportunity. I moved all of the big stuff out of the playroom, grabbed my broom and swept, swept, and swept. Satisfied all the dusties and the crumblies were swept into the trash, it was time for Mop Phase One: Clorox.
I mopped, mopped, and mopped. The cat jumped and slid. I scrubbed the stubborn stains. Phase One was complete. I went back to the kitchen to prep the bucket for Mop Phase Two: Fabuloso.
I need to insert a note here before I come across as borderline psychotic. When I usually mop, I don’t go past Phase One. But when it’s Time to Mop, I do both. So back I went to the playroom and spread the yummy smelling Fabuloso everywhere. And it was so nice. The playroom was sparkly and yummy smelling. Reward! Satisfaction!
This is the moment I should have stopped. This is the point I should have been content with what I accomplished, pasted the mental gold star, and moved on to accomplishing the everyday basics plus relaxation. Not to mention the kids had gotten home as I was wrapping it up. But…
The rest of the house was chaotic. The rest of the house didn’t smell nice. The rest of the house had stains, crumblies, and dusties scattered all over with precarious piles leaning treacherously on several surfaces. So I went back to the kitchen to prep the bucket again for Mop Phase One. And I did the whole house.
And then? I prepped the bucket for Mop Phase Two and did the whole house. It was somewhere in the middle of this Daughter wandered over and breathed in happily and said something like “This is just like the cleaning lady” which left me baffled because the last time we had a cleaning lady was just after her dad and I split and that was two years ago almost, no three. Could she really remember? She had just turned three! I asked what cleaning lady and sure enough, she remembered.
Reward! I’m the cleaning lady! How those two got twisted in my brain as a positive thing I don’t know.
I helped cook dinner, I picked up the laundry baskets in the living room, and straightened up here, there everywhere. I cleaned the kids’ bathroom up. I emptied out three drawers in Daughter’s room for Boyfriend’s Daughter (To Be Nicknamed) to put her stuff while she stays with us. I made the lunches. I cleaned the dishes. I cleaned the litter box. I put together the outfits for the Spring Portraits. I ran to Target because Eldest didn’t own an appropriate shirt and Baby didn’t own appropriate pants. I kept going until I collapsed into bed just before midnight.
By that point, the reward elation was gone. In the final leg, the thing that was pushing me was this angry feeling that if I just waited until someone was able to help me get things done, it wouldn’t get done and it needed to get done because if it didn’t we’d be back on the slippery slope backwards we constantly find ourselves on that leads to piled clutter everywhere and things missing and strange smells in vague places and things sticking to your feet. Recently I learned that if you want something done, you’re the only one truly responsible for getting it done because you’re the one that wants it done. So I was angry no one else wanted it done.
It was the exhaustion thinking.
There’s a phrase I hear all of the time from people, “I don’t know how you do it.” You know how I do it? The same way you do it, whatever “it” is. You either do, or you don’t. Repeat.
Usually, I feel pretty good when I get stuff done, but not today.
This morning I felt my body scream against the alarm clock. The scream shook every nerve in my body despite the fact not even a moan escaped my lips. It physically hurt to lift myself from the bed. I had to force myself to not press Snooze (do or don’t). It took me ages to completely wake up as my brain clung to some level of sleep while I forced and pushed my body to move around. I can feel the bags under my eyes, heavy as can be. I don’t need a mirror to know they’re there.
I usually look forward to going home. But my house has become so overwhelming that this isn’t the case. I am very much a satisficer but my house isn’t at a level I’m ok with. Even with all of the work I put in yesterday and the past few days, it’s still not a sight for (my) sore eyes. So even though I want to go home and relax, I don’t want to go home because I know I won’t be able to relax once I get there.
There are kids to feed, bathe, mediate, and put to bed. There are lunches to prep. I’m pretty sure there are dishes to put away. There will be dishes to clean. There’s a basket of unpaired socks having a massive sock orgy which is causing the birth of more socks because the population has significantly increased in size. Baby needs socks because apparently all of his socks are fornicating in the laundry basket instead of spooning monogamously in his drawer.
Those are the Must-Dos. And then, there’s the desk. The God Damn Desk. Every time I walk into my house, there sits the God Damn Desk.
Covered in Crap.
I have sat at this desk. I have sat and considered the Crap that covers. I have even dispatched some of it. But Crap, like the socks, reproduces. The desk taunts me. And it overwhelms me and discourages me. It also motivates me to find other things to keep busy with so that I have a Perfectly Good Reason to not attend to the God Damn Desk.
I think I might bring in the timer for this one. I think my strategy will be to get through the Must-Dos and spend only 20 minutes at the God Damn Desk. And after that, I will begin to drink wine. And I will read books with the children and maybe even do something silly with them. I will flip through a magazine. Or perhaps I will meditate on the latest Knit Picks catalog. I will get my children in bed before nine tonight.
And I will try desperately to follow suit.