During this strange season of quarantine, lots of folks are touting all the amazing things that they (or I) should be (and are) doing with their (my) time. As if this pandemic is a chance to start new things, finish old projects, be reflective, get stuff done, be uber productive. Take advantage of all the time you have at home! Marie Kondo those spaces in your life that are cluttered! Do that thing you have always wanted to do! Learn a new skill!
But recently I’ve been reading a lot of the opposite message, too. Lots of folks are going out of their way on social media to say, “Chill out, people, you don’t have to do anything with your time except get through this.”
Girls, can I be real?
I’m kind of resentful of both views, to be honest, and I’m as tired of other people telling me what I should be doing as I am of those giving me permission to not do anything.
Because, y’all, I have gotten a lot of things done. And I am feeling pretty productive and happy and peaceful a lot of days as I manage to check off items from my to-do list.
Because we don’t have commitments every weekend as usual, we have managed to deep clean, organize, and totally simplify both of the bedrooms upstairs, and your dad built an amazing inset bookshelf at the top of the steps. (Both of those things have been major mental-health improvements as well as physical space improvements.)
Last weekend, we finally got around to moving the raised beds along the fence, and digging up the iris and daffodil bulbs that have been growing up every year along our fenceline and in the corner of our yard since we had the fence installed—five years ago. Yes, five years ago, we said we were going to move the daffodil bulbs, and this year, thanks to Covid-19, we finally did.
So I’m kind of resentful that there are so many people telling me to chill out and stop making everyone else feel guilty about what they aren’t getting done.
Because though I’m not making anyone else feel guilty, now I am personally feeling guilty for doing something at all, as if there’s something wrong with trying to do something with my time, even though I haven’t been talking about it publicly. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but I feel equally uncomfortable with others telling me to chill out as I am with folks telling me to do more.
Because even though I am being productive some of the time, the truth is, it took me seven weeks of quarantine to finally dig out my novel and start working on it again. Reading novels I excel at—I’ve read quite a few in the last two months—but doing the hard work of committing to a novel-length writing project? Oy. It’s been hard. Many things have been hard.
And obviously I haven’t exactly been cranking out letters to you, though I did manage to write a letter to the littlest on her birthday last week in the private journal I keep for each of you. (Granted, I hadn’t written once since January of 2019, but I considered it a win that I wrote one at all.)
Girls, here’s the truth: I consider it all a win, whatever I manage to do on any given day.
And the things I don’t manage to do? Well, I just let them go.
Because some days I don’t do much.
Some days it really is too overwhelming. Just homeschooling you is enough. And some days that “homeschooling” turns into phonics games and bike rides and Spanish memory flashcards.
I guess what I want to say is this:
Whatever you do, whatever season you’re in, that is enough.
Please don’t feel guilty about being productive and busy.
And please don’t feel guilty about doing nothing but getting through the day.
Still, I feel like it always needs to be said: don’t let yourself off the hook either. Don’t lower your standards and expectations, just be flexible. Every day is a new day.
Simply put: be discerning.
Be discerning in what you can and can’t do. Let some of it go. Make an attempt at something else. Maybe the something else is just deleting over seven thousand photos off your phone and iPad in one morning—clearing your devices up to clear your mind up. That would have been me this morning and I feel like it was a monumental accomplishment.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Some days for me, paying bills is enough. And other days for me, I rock the to-do list and get a bazillion things done and plan for a gajillion more.
It varies day to day.
There is no should. There is no guilt. It just is life.
We are getting through this, and wherever you are, whenever you are reading this, you will get through it, too.
You are enough.