... where you wake up and your eyes feel like they have been rubbed with sandpaper and you realize that 2.5 hours of your 6ish hour sleep time was spent sitting up against a wooden headboard with a baby on your shoulder, and then you realize that two of your little ones have runny noses - again! - and it is December 17 and you are not done with your (online!) Christmas shopping and also that even your well kids are moving in slow motion and so the scheduled cleaning up the house is probably not going to happen.
So I declared a "nothing is going to get done" day. Having had experience with these sorts of days, I know that the only thing worse than feeling like your eyes have been scoured with sandpaper is the accompanying feeling that you are running behind with no hope of ever accomplishing what you need to accomplish. If I don't stop and do a reality check, what I end up with is a whole lot of meaningless guilt. This sort of guilt -- "if God is a God of order, why'd he give me this brain and 7 kids, there's no way I can ever manage, blah, blah, blah" -- is counterproductive in the worst sort of way because at the same time it is paralyzing ("I just want to give up"), it also just gets worse as the day goes on and more falls by the wayside because of that sandpapery-eye thing ("Just how long have I been sitting here staring at this open jar of peanut butter???").
Today I wasn't going to get sucked into that well of destruction. No, today I was just going to give myself a day of not getting anything done. I called Andy at work and told him the situation and that nothing was going to get done today. "Fine by me," he said, because he is a nice guy, and also because we have twins and he knows what sandpapery eyes feel like, but mainly because he was having one of those days himself. So now it was a family affair, and I felt better. Having your husband's seal of approval on a "nothing is going to get done" day will dispel any remaining shreds of guilt you have.
So. There I was. The day had been completely written off. There was absolutely no guilt about staring blearily at a computer screen, searching Amazon for Christmas presents...
It was about 2 PM when I realized that I had gotten something done today. In fact, not just something but some things.
I'd gotten the Christmas shopping done because I gave myself permission to sit at the computer, but I couldn't just stare at the screen. I might not have done my bedroom the way I was scheduled to because I had to put the baby in the Ergo and picking up the floor seemed a little bit too much like doing squats at the gym, but I did clean my mirror (finally) and I swept up the kitchen and the front room and did two loads of laundry, folded them (!), and put them away (!!) I made a Target list and gathered coupons for it. I oversaw the baking of shortbread cookies and my teenage son did his usual Friday bathroom cleaning chores, which does not mean that the bathrooms are clean but that they are cleaner. I used our stash of emergency Annie's mac and cheese for lunch, but we ate. I put small people down for naps. I took out some recycling.
And now here I am with the third load of laundry awaiting folding, and a fourth in the washer ready for the dryer. My washing machine may or may not actually be cleaning these clothes -- it's making this high-pitched eeeeeeee noise of the sort you usually hear in bad 50's scifi movies -- but I figure rinsing them in hot soapy water must count for something.
Kind of like a day on which nothing is going to get done so there's nothing to lose by doing just one thing, regardless if it's the thing that's "supposed" to get done or not.
This Advent my primary reflections have been about my vocation and coping with the difficulty of slowing down to embrace ordinary life again after a year (or more) of constant upheaval and uncertainty. On the one hand, constant upheaval will wear you out. And on the other hand, some of us have the sort of personality that can come to expect it. And when the upheaval begins to even out... it's tempting to create more upheaval rather than embracing the ordinariness of staying put.
Anyway, what I'm faced with these days is how to create a new ordinariness here in