September 22, 2010
Just Do It!
I have always been a procrastinator, and I think this comes partly from a tendency toward comfort and pleasure, and the the need to feel undue pressure in order to focus properly on the put-off task. When I was fifteen, my sister's boyfriend came to visit with a posse of college friends. They were amazed at my ablility to lie on the couch reading for eight hours straight on a Sunday, yet somehow still get my homework done on time for Monday's classes. Years later in University, my roommate was actually quite miffed at my ability to achieve good marks when, for the most part, I seemed to spend most of my time enjoying myself. I am far from proud of my unfortunate habit, for it led to many years of struggle when real life kicked in.
My mother started saying 'Just Do It' long before the tough love phrase was ever applied to the Nike brand. When I had my first child, I was immobilized for hours every day because I wanted to delay the inevitable fussing for as long as possible. I would sit comfortably reading and nursing or playing with my baby for hours on end - at least then he (and I) would be happy and calm. When my son was a month or two old, my mom came to visit us in our small apartment. She quickly pointed out to me that it was possible to hold the baby in one arm and stir the spaghetti sauce with the other. "Babies need to cry," she said, as she put him in his bouncy chair and helped me get on with things.
My second baby was a sweet, tiny thing, another boy, born when his brother was only sixteen months old. He was a good sleeper, and by then I had acquired that wondrously helpful item, a wind-up baby swing. With two children, and a husband at work all day, I had no choice but to try and become organized. Still, I had to gear up psychologically in order to achieve simple household tasks such as cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming the carpets. I am not completely sure what held me back - my go-getter husband certainly could never understand my hesitation.
I truly think I saw household tasks as being achievable only after a lengthy, arduous climb over a very high mental wall, and once this wall was climbed over, and the chore done, I would congratulate myself far more than I deserved. A soothing sense of satisfaction would come over me every time I stepped into the gleaming bathroom, or the just-dusted living room. But it was not to last. Housework, like child rearing, is like beading a string with no knot on the end. Within days the dust would accumulate and the tub ring would reappear. I would toy with the idea of a quick wipe, but no. Keeping up with it just didn't come naturally. Retreating to a living room strewn with toys and baby board books, I would sit by with my book and wait for the mental wall to build itself back up and inspiration to hit me once more.
Those days are all but over. I still allow myself to let the pile accumulate somewhat, but that is mainly due to the fact that I try very hard to maintain a balance between work (and I work hard) and leisure - the one is much more successful with the allowance of the other. My husband is learning this, too as he gets older, because as my wise mother also has said, "The work will still be there when you return from your lovely walk in the fall sunshine. It's not going anywhere." Or something to that effect.
I am so looking forward to beautiful, spacious October!
The tea towel in the photo above was designed by Suzi Warren and is available on her 'twisted twee' website.