Jul 02 2012
In a couple of weeks I’ll turn 35, and I guess when you’re too old to count presents, you’ll start keeping count of the things you’ve achieved in life. And perhaps birthdays are particularly hard on stay-home moms, because the only thing you can count on is that whatever you’re doing will be undone at some point—sometimes even in a matter of minutes. I’m talking about the tangibles, which for a mom is anything related to cleaning, feeding, and getting to places on time.
Or maybe it’s just me. I had Z in September last year and I decided to take a year off work, as in freelance work. To some people, that’s like going from slow living to even slower living. There is the odd assignment that still finds its way into my life, but for the most part, I’m dealing with a lot of time and very little money. I could probably justify this if I were fully appreciating the children, but the truth is that I’m also short on patience and energy.
Occasionally I am asked to account for how my time is used, and the question that all stay-home moms dread is thrown up: “What do you do all day?” If my husband is the one asking this question, it probably means he is already unhappy with me for other reasons, and he’ll take it upon himself to supply an answer.
Lately I’ve been asking myself a few questions too. Am I doing what I want to be doing all day? Should I be doing something more meaningful? Am I becoming the sort of person my grandmother warned me never to become: A lazy, do-nothing time squanderer?
Then yesterday, I read an article that I really liked. It was as if it’d been written just for me. (Obviously the delusion of someone who has too much time on her hands!)
Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.
My point exactly.
More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.
I agree completely. Hardly anyone I know has a job that is personally meaningful or makes a difference to the world at large. Of course most people value their jobs for the paycheck, which validates their time spent. But then again, I have something that the working crowd doesn’t:
The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
Which brings me to my theme for the month: I’m working (!) on letting go of the guilt from not being financially productive, and instead, learning to appreciate the fact that I have time, and the freedom to choose how I spend my time. And well, at 35, I’d like to do it wisely. This means opting to have a real conversation with my husband and daughter over virtual connections, knowing when to give myself and my devices a rest, and realising that advertising my life does not make me a better person—learning does.
I’ll leave you with a final reminder from the article:
Life is too short to be busy.
Here’s to a month of loving my time, and spending it well!