What do you do all day?
Remember how hypersensitive I am about this question? I measure my own worth by how much I can get done. My friend Val referred me to this article. I loved it because it gave me a new perspective and validated my chosen occupation.
Back to the question at hand. “What are you up to?” “What are you doing?” That’s often a normal first question on a regular check in phone call. It’s a routine way to start an everyday conversation, but sometimes I panic a little when someone inquires about it. Is what I’m doing at that current moment productive? What will it portray if I can’t come up with any tangible doing? Will I get judged if I am truthful about the fact that I was just zoning out on Facebook or Instagram? Will I get looked down upon if I say that I was just shooting the breeze with my family in the midst of an extremely dirty house? Will it sound lazy if I tell them that I was just lounging on my couch reading or binge watching a new tv show obsesson?
At the end of each day, I feel good if I have checked off at least ten chores. Done. Did it. The more lines I scratch through tasks, the more awesomeness I achieve. I’ve beat this day to a pulp and now I win.
But what I’m finding is that the more activities and assignments I plan to undertake each day, the less present I become in my own life. I am less available to the people I love, to the people who need me. I need those same people but I push them away in order to get all the things done.
Maybe I need to write, “Be present” at the top of my list each day.
But now, what does that look like? This is a hard one. I was always taught in teaching that your goals and objectives for your lesson plans need to be measureable. How do you measure being there for someone? How do you know if you have accomplished your end goal? Maybe it’s looking Jack in the eyes when he’s telling me about his day, rather than half listening while I fold laundry. Maybe it’s truly hearing Luke when he’s giving me a summary of the book he just finished. Asking follow up questions to let him know that I really understand what he’s telling me, instead of, “Mmm hmmm…. sounds like a cool book,” while balancing the checkbook at the same time. Maybe it’s putting off vacumming for another day so Tim and I can sit and chat during lunch in the rare quietness of our mid-day boy-free house. Maybe it’s rescheduling the evening trip to the gym because it will interfere with family hangout time.
All those tasks and more still need to be done. Some of them I need to do to stay sane and healthy so I can be a whole enough person to actually be in the moment. But remember how great I am at multitasking? Remember the priorities I set earlier? When I focus on getting that checklist scribbled on, when the dark, cross out lines are agressively promoting my worth, my priority list gets flip flopped. Those things begin to rise above my people and that is not okay with me.
So, now I guess it’s on to the To-Do LIst for today:
1. Get this post written so it will be cemented into my brain. For me, pencil on paper makes things more permanent.
2. Be present. Just be there for those that I love.
3. If there is down time – take some “me” time without feeling guilty about it.
4. And then if there is time, and only after the above have taken place, eek out some teeny tiny chores. But remember, if I get interrupted and my people need me, revert back to number two.
I’ll let you know how it goes. I might fail and flop right on my face, but there’s always tomorrow to try again.