Honestly, I should have been in bed. Fast asleep. Just like everyone else. But, the kitchen was quiet- if you choose to ignore the ticking of the clock and the off-on gurgling of the fridge. The TV was off. The radio was off. Even the washing machine was having a break- though that’s not necessarily a good thing – apparently the load that’s in it won’t actually get clean unless it’s switched on… You’d think in this modern age we could enjoy quiet and clean laundry, but, apparently that is not to be! On this particular occasion though, peace was to trump cleanliness… Ah well, sure the Welsh guy in Notting Hill never seemed to worry about such trivialities and think how chilled out he was…
In a house that is busy, noisy, lively and a habitat for its own unique brand of madness, I decided to bask in the delight of just being there, in the silence, doing nothing else. ( for ‘nothing’ it might be worthwhile noting that some thesauri list Pinterest as a synonym … What do you mean yours doesn’t? Must be a very old one 😉) I don’t know about you, but the times I spend just being silent are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change the crazy child-cultivated chaos for anything but, sometimes, isn’t just sitting still, minus the sounds and televisual distractions that so frequently surround us, just what the doctor ordered?
A number of years ago, I discovered this quotation: ‘Sometimes we need to come apart awhile otherwise we will just plain come apart’ and you know, I think we can learn a lot from that. I know life is busy, believe me, I don’t think there’s a Friday I get to where I don’t question how I got there so quickly or, worse, a Sunday evening that arrives what seems like seconds after the aforementioned Friday. Life is busy when there is work and places to be and a house and a garden (possibly least said about that the better) and, of course, little people… whose social life is waaaaay more active than the grown-ups! (The ancestors always warn you, but really, I don’t think the truth of this is real until you’re living it!) I think there is a massive pressure on us all to at least appear that we can do it all and master everything and honestly, I’m not convinced anyone can.
Sometime ago, I heard the American domestic goddess and organisational guru, Martha Stewart being interviewed. After a tour around her meticulous and obviously organised home, time was spent discussing and praising her many accomplishments. It was then the question was asked. The directions to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; the holy grail itself; the solution to the age-old conundrum: ‘How do you manage to be so organised?’ With the mind of a sponge waiting to be saturated in the floods of wisdom, I held my breath as I waited for her to answer. There was no pen to hand, I re-call, but I was eager and alert and, by George I was going to take it all in. Our lives were about to be changed forever. So, on the edge of my seat, I waited, as the Mary Poppins/ Stepford Wife advisor for humans was about to speak (honestly, any of you who’ve ever felt you were drowning under a pile of incomplete household chores, tell me you haven’t, even just once, considered the benefit of being a stepford wife… all jobs done on time and your own charge point to boot… what’s not to love?!)
Well, the answer began and I coould feel myself nodding along… maybe I too could be like Martha…. ‘Lists’, she said, they were key! Well, if there’s anything I know about, it’s lists. Heck, pen, paper, maybe even some little bullet points thrown in – was that seriously all it was going to take to transform our lives forever? The Wise One continued: the lists were to left where they could be seen, preferably on post-its. Now, who doesn’t love those little yellow squares of one-edged stickiness? Useful, portable and sunshiney… great. This was all going so well. And then, the ultimate solution: an end to the quest for superior domesticity: ‘Leave them for the staff to see them so that they know what they’re meant to be doing.’
Not having much of a staff these days, I probably couldn’t exactly nominate myself for employer of the month, but, I reckon that if I had the staff, I too could be every bit as organised as Ms Stewart.
I may have vocalised my feelings towards the tv screen, It didn’t really seem that bothered and, in all honesty, I daresay Martha Stwerart has little interest in what I have to say either but, my view still stands, probably firmer than before: I truly believe that no-one out there is able to do it all. Admit it, tell me I’m not just consoling my own incapabilities; something always has to give, doesn’t it?
Now, what that something is, I don’t doubt, varies for each of us. Sometimes certain circumstances or commitments simply over-ride our routines and very much dictate which balls we drop (please note, this is a juggling metaphor and not simply a reference to the process of trying to gather up our DIY ball pit at the end of the day). Over the past few weeks, we’ve made progress in a number of areas and looking back, we feel that pats on the back are allowed: the patio we no longer needed has gone (though it is very obvious, simply by looking at the big hole in the corner of our garden, that the whole process is not quite finished… think of it like a butterfly – we’re still pretty much a caterpillar but, you know, we are indeed transforming it. The doors and windows that needed sprucung up have been dealt with. The school tests have been prepared for and completed.Yeah! My own personal bulge beating challenge is in progress though, while I secretly hoped to by-pass caterpillar and cocoon to become an over-night butterfly, it’s a slightly slower progression but still, progress is progress (‘Positivity’, I was informed, was the word to bear in mind when the needle didn’t drop quite as low as I’d wanted it to on Friday) It will all be great. Honest. What do you mean the lady protests too much??!!
My Little Green Tree display is now in place in our local library, an opportunity I really am truly grateful for and, I actually got to the bottom of an ironing pile that was on-going in various forms since November … yup. You read right. And, I probably should be totally ashamed ( the number of times it was comncealed from the older generations would indeed support the theory that I was but, you know what, in that time, none of us left the house without clothes. The washing was still done. It’s just it was a bit of an iron as you need service – muchlike a pay as you go phone, without the cost! And, here’s the reality: for every achievement we made, there’s another job just waiting for us to tackle another time. Why? Because that’s how life is. We weren’t built to keep going 24 hours a day – – why else woiuld we need the distinction between day and night? We aren’t actually built like the wives of Stepford. Our re-charging process is a tad more complex than that. (However, not actually having had a full night’s sleep for a considerable amount of time, I find caffiene is a suitable stand-in!)
Sometimes, I think, we just have to take a deep breatth and remind ourselves, we can’t do it all. No realistic person out there expects us to and the quite frankly, we need to stop comparing ourselves with what we think others are achieving. For all we know, they have a staff to leave post-its for or, as I suspect, a pile of laundry that they move around so that their mother doesn’t ever see it to compound the shame. (p.s. Please don’t tell her!)
Either way, don’t beat yourself up about not being able to do everything all the time – sometimes having a few minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet, so long as everyone is safe, fed and clothed, is much more important than having everything done and dusted and even, dare I say it, ironed. So, no matter what you are tempted to listen to, resist the urge to compare yourself to others. How can you? You are the only you who was ever made!