Sunday, February 05, 2006

On Not Getting Anything Done

True Story

One Saturday, about 2 or 3 years ago, my husband took the three kids over to see his parents. I had left shortly before him, anxious to enjoy a few hours of free time doing something glamorous, like grocery shopping without being pestered for Cocoa Pops, or returning vastly overdue library books. When I returned, looking forward to a quiet house and perhaps an hour of knitting, the front door was wide open.

I called my husband on the cell phone, and he swore he had closed and locked the door. So I then called the local police. A very polite officer showed up, and when I explained the situation, he assured me I had done the right thing, and he would be happy to go in with me until we confirmed there were no burglars hiding inside, waiting to steal my . . . yarn.

We entered the house, and the police officer's face blanched. "Do you want me to write up a report? What's missing?" he said.

I looked around. The house was in its normal state of chaos, toys and papers and clothes and yarn detritus thrown everywhere. Imagine my horror a split-second later when I realized he thought that thieves had ransacked the house looking for valuables.

Frustration

Today I am feeling frustrated. There are so many thing I want to do: projects to make, projects to design, yarns to try, halfway-done things to finish. Yet I feel I am just not making any progress. I find this eagerness to try so many things paralyzing. I start one thing, then stop and think I'll try another, then get anxious that I haven't finished the first, and so on. In the meantime, I have to stop a dozen times to get little people food, or help them in the bathroom, or find the keys that are right in front of my husband's face, or fold a load of laundry.

I now have a basket full of handdyed yarn I'm eager to try, and just don't know when I'll get to it. And the more I feel paralyzed by my lack of accomplishing anything, the more inertia takes hold, and I find I can't even sit down and finish knitting one complete row without getting up and down, and stopping and starting four other things.

Plus, my house is a mess.

16 comments:

Tabitha said...

Such is the life of a parent of small children. It's the hardest time of your life, I think. People will tell you that bigger kids just have bigger problems, which I guess could be true. But bigger kids will at least let you have 10 minutes alone in the bathroom, which can make a huge difference in your ability to cope. It's just hard to deal with that much chaos on a daily basis. When my kids were little I felt like I would never get through it. And the house looked so bad I just wanted to move. By myself. Far away. I feel for you, I really do. It does get easier, you do get your decision making and prioritizing abilities back and your children survive all kinds of behavior that you later regret. And screw the house - it's not a relection on your character. I'm suspicious of anyone with a young family and a house that doesn't look like wild pigs ran through it.

Tabitha said...

Oh and one more bit of wisdom from an Older Mutha - if you can, make a small room (preferably not a corner of some other room) that is all your own. Keep it as tidy as you can, make everyone else stay the hell out and use it everyday. Even if you just sit in it and look at the wall for 15 minutes. I never had one until my kids where teenagers, but it has become very important to me. That and wine.

Michelle said...

You could be describing my life! I have 4 kids, a messy house (that could also be mistakenly characterized as ransacked), loads and loads of unfolded (and unwashed laundry) and about 20 projects on the needles or waiting. I was always in a constant state of anxiety. So, now that some of my kids are getting older, I have delegated more. Older son (13 years) can wash dishes. Middle son and younger son (10 and 7) can switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. All 3 can bag the trash and bring to the barrels. Also, my daughter (2 years) can help pick up her toys and books. As for my husband, well........I've at least trained him to pick up his own dirty laundry. It's not much, but it does help. Deep breaths and tasking out some of the house work will help! I read your very well written blog every day, it's wonderful!

Sarina said...

For me, one key to sanity has been the purchase of headphones for the television. If a child or a fan of action movies is watching TV alone, the headphones are on and the house is quiet. It just seems calmer...

Kim said...

You summed up exactly how I've been feeling. It makes me frustrated and anxious. Hope you find the time to get some stuff done!

Marilyn said...

Su casa esta mi casa. (Pardon my bad Spanish.)

Little kids, messy house, no time to do anything in one swell foop. Boy, I havent' forgotten that!

But the husband always had the remedy for those times when I was paralyzed with inertia because there were too many things I wanted to try and too little time in which to do. He said, "Stop thinking about everything you want to do, pick one thing, do that to completion and enjoy the process. You'll get to the rest." He was right. I still follow that advice. To some degree. It's taken me 25 years but I now knit, spin and weave. I'm glad, though, that I had the time with my kids, even if it meant getting up at ungodly hours to have a little knitting time.

Lavender said...

I completely understand. I had the same thing happened to me too. Fortunately, the policewoman was very understanding...being a mom as well...

My son is older now and my house is *little* bit more tidied. I've learn there is a difference between "clean" and "tidy". My house is clean but could never call it tidy. :D

gigi said...

same thing happened to me...while the robber HAD emptied out my dresser drawers and pulled stuff out of the closet - i didn't let on to the responding officer that the bulk of the clutter and mess had nothing to do with the break-in. he said "did the intruder do this?" I said "oh yes, what a mess!" i think he knew though. now i keep the place clean just in case i get robbed and cute cops come to the house.

Valerie said...

The first step begins with a simple stitch.....

rincaro said...

I'm having the same problem. Too much I want to start, too much I don't wanna finish.

Mary Lou said...

So much yarn, so little time....actually, I think it is the time of year....we are all sort of blah right about now. My grandmother would have recommended a dose of blackstrap molasses. My mother would have said to let the housework go and do what you want to do, the housework will always be there. Maybe hire a teenager to do some cleaning for you while you relax?
I hope nothing was taken from your house and I'm glad no one was hurt.
Thanks for writing such a lovely blog. I enjoy reading it.

Coleen said...

I keep starting new projects and the sweater I started in December just keeps staring back at me..."when are you going to finish me?? WHEN?"

Ann said...

My 21 year old daughter messaged me last week at work telling me she thinks that she has ADD. I told her that I think I have it too. It's because we are all so darn busy with so many different things to do. I look at my husband off for the winter spending most of his days just moving from the couch to the chair to the fridge and want to throttle him. What I could do with that much free time on my hands....

Mindy said...

You just described my life- and house! (minus the open door/break-in- I figure if they are brave enough to make it up my hill, they are welcome to it...) It's comforting knowing I'm not the only one overwhelmed to the point of paralysis- though I don't wish it on any of us. If it helps, I keep deluding myself by thinking that as they get older, even though they will need us as much, it will be less physical- so maybe we can actually KNIT while we listen!

Sherry W said...

I'm not a mother (and you all make it sound so wonderful ;) ) but I still get that 'project anxiety'. I even tend to work on one (or two) things at a time, but it never seems like I'm making progress. Every day there is new yarn to hoard and new patterns to covet.

Bev said...

The same thing happened to my family, only we had left for a vacation. Our house was on a corner and a co-worker, who knew we had gone out of town, noticed the front door open when he drove by. He called the police, then called us. We drove back about 9 hours from Galveston, only to find that the house was the mess that we had left trying to get ourselves and 2 kids packed up and out of town. Wind and a failure to lock the door was blamed. My solution-- Cleaning lady!!!! Even everyother week makes you take care of things a little quicker.