The other day I was on the phone with mom crying. Fun fact: I hate crying. It leaves me feeling vulnerable and frustrated, which is ironic because those are two feelings that often lead me to cry. Unfortunately for me, I am a crier and you’d think after 39 years I’d be used to it. I’m not. I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, angry, worried, stressed, tired, caring for people, praying for people, reading, watching movies, laughing at myself, etc. I cry. A lot. Especially when I drop heavy objects on my toes. Just sayin’. Sometimes I think my feelings are directly connected to my tear ducts. When things get a little emotionally full, it comes out my eyes and leaks its way down my face.
So yes, I was crying on the phone to my mom the other day. She’s tough and can handle my tears. I was frustrated that I looked around my house and had so much to do but absolutely zero energy to do it. I’m too stubborn to ask for help. (And I’m honest enough to admit I’d probably be really short and snappy with anyone who ventured in.) I know this is just a short-term thing until my body is back on track and I’m trying to be patient and graceful. (I am neither patient nor graceful.) But I hate not having strength in myself to do it all. (None of us do.) I fall prey to the trap of comparison. (It’s a joy suck.) I feel all these negative things – yes, a bit of self-pity and woe – and I cried.
Yesterday, I went to work. I puttered a bit when I came home in the afternoon. I sat down to finish writing a review and while pondering my words, I fell asleep. Kevin worked a bit later than usual. It was dark when he got home. (It’s dark very early now but it’s nice to wake up to sunlight.) We had a time-sensitive errand to run. Dinner hadn’t been made. I looked at him in the car shortly before 7 and said “I’m done.” I was frustrated. We bought takeout for dinner and I left the dishes until this morning. I felt guilty and then realised how stupid it was to feel guilty. I didn’t cry though. Maybe I did. I was in such a fog that I honestly don’t remember. The family was cared for in a different way and did what needed to be done even if it was a shortcut. Everyone went to bed with full bellies. No one was hurt by the dishes in the sink.
Today I slept in. It was lovely. I embraced the day with a to do list. I sat down at 1:30 p.m. to write this because… guess what? I am done. Not done my to do list. Just done. My list has fallen to the wayside. (Technically it’s on my phone still waiting for me to check items off.) I started to feel frustrated at all that remains to be done. I was falling into the trap of comparison and self-pity again. But I stopped. Grabbed a cold Diet Pepsi out of the fridge. Sat down and realized what’s left on the to-do list doesn’t matter right now – the to-do list will never end. Ever. What does matter is finding pride in what I have accomplished even if that doesn’t look like what you accomplished or what she-who-shall-not-be-named-but-makes-me-look-like-a-slacker accomplished. Because we’re not the same person. We’re not in the same place.
Today I am satisfied with what I’ve already done before I ran out of steam (remember, my tank is pretty small right now – it doesn’t take a lot to hit empty.) This morning I cleaned two bathrooms, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, washed a overflowing sink full of things that aren’t dishwasher friendly by hand, I’ve washed, dried, and folded three loads of laundry, I started a new devotional, I wrote a note to a friend, I fed and watered the pets, I changed our bedsheets, I cleaned the washer and dryer (why do we have so much dusty lint?) and I have two pots of soup on the go. Soup one is a creamy tomato and white bean. (In case you think I’ve got it all together – you know, judging by my masterful command of life and emotions – I may have, most definitely, burnt the beans as I write this – we’ll hope it adds a depth of smoky flavour to the soup – my kitchen no longer smells delicious.) Soup two is a roasted butternut with maple and bacon marmalade. I’ll keep some for dinner, some for the freezer, some for a friend. And I’m done. Not fully done. I’ll still putter. But I’m going to sit down, find a snack, and realize that sitting, thinking, recharging, resting – they’re important too.
My point in all this? Don’t lose heart. Don’t get angry when you look at the unconquerable to-do list. Take stock of what you have accomplished even if it takes some reframing. Didn’t get to the laundry, but raked the leaves with your youngest? You spent time with the kids and got fresh air and exercise. Dishes are clean but your bed didn’t get made? You spent time in the kitchen. Stayed in bed with nothing more than a book? You took a day for yourself. Stripped all the wallpaper in your ugly bathroom but forgot to make dinner? Order a pizza and take a hot shower. Kept the kids alive but your hair and/or teeth haven’t been brushed? You. Kept. Kids. Alive. (Major accomplishment, right there, for some kids.)
Don’t judge your accomplishments OR YOUR WORTH by what you see on social media, your friends, your family, or how you think people are judging you. My morning? Super productive actually but if I look at what I have left to do, it’s but a tiny piece of the puzzle. My afternoon? Also productive – I’ll be taking care of some really valuable things (i.e. myself alongside my physical and mental health.) For you, those valuable things may be your health, your kids, your loved one. While I sit and pause I might just find the energy to take a shower and change out of these pajamas. There’s nothing wrong with being productive, just remember that there’s nothing wrong with ignoring the to-do list once in awhile either. You matter beyond any checkmark.