Go! No Stop. No Go! God, why can't you ever relax?

The other day I stopped by a friend's house for a chat. When I got there she was chilling out and eating a bowl of cereal while feeding her baby. Her preschool daughter was quietly playing in the same room, stringing colored paper clips into a necklace. The house was pretty and tidy but not crazy company clean. It was serene, relaxed and unhurried. She was smiling and welcoming.

And so of course I asked myself, why can't I do this? This balance of a mostly picked up house and zen attitude.

I can veg like an overcooked vegetable. Pour myself a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and watch HGTV till my ass is bonded with the couch. Notice the dog pulling a crumbly granola bar off the table and yet wait till a commercial to clean it up. But all the while I'm doing it there will be this woman's voice running through my head, "What are you gonna do today? Is this all you're gonna do? What about the house, gonna clean the house better? When are you going to exercise? What about your jewelry, don't you think you should be making some jewelry? Why the fuck are you sitting on the couch and eating cereal...don't you know that the laundry pile in your basement is so tall it could harbor a small child and you wouldn't even know it?"

And I can clean like someone is planning to come over and lick my floors later that evening. Windexing the baseboards, running the toothpaste holder through the dishwasher, folding the blankets that lay casually across the back of the couch just goddamn so. And while I am sweaty and furiously scrubbing the urine that little boys manage to somehow embed into the seal around the toilet the voice in my head switches tactics. Now she's a stoner and I'm Felix Unger, "Duuuude, relax. You are wound soooo tight man. Who's gonna notice if you wipe down the plant leaves man? Did you know that wine comes in a box now? Like a juice box? You should toootally stop hoovering the dog and go get some."

It's like I have two switches. On or Off. Sloth or Slave. I'm either comatose with glazed over eyes watching Mad Men and trying not to make eye contact with family members. Or I'm madly doing housework as if someone is standing in the corner with a stopwatch yelling, "Do it, do it, DO IT NOW! NOW! Missed a spot." And either mode displeases the woman that lives in my head.

What is it about some folks that allow them to strike a leisurely balance? That sort of puttering, happy pace that gets things done and yet doesn't wear them out to exhaustion. The ones that happily cease doing their chore if interrupted by a visitor instead of snarling and grumbling in the direction of the doorbell while they Swiffer the shit out of the kitchen floor as if it were an Olympic sport.

How did you people develop this life balance skill? Can you teach me? And can you come over and tell the perpetually discontent woman in my head to go choke on her Cap'n Crunch?

14 comments:

Amy Kate said...

You and me, both. Because if the mood strikes me to get something done I BETTER GET STUFF DONE RIGHT THEN or it'll wear off and it could be weeks before I am inclined to do anything beyond the bare minimum again.

areyoukiddingme said...

Here's what you do...first, get rid of the dog. Next, make everyone take their shoes off at the door. Make the children do all of the tidying because it's usually their crap anyway. Finally, designate someone in the house as the anal retentive person who insists that things be put in their proper place or there will be much passive aggressive behavior. That's my recipe for successful housekeeping. However, when the anal retentive person is away at work for 2 months, as he is currently, my countertops become a giant vortex of paper and discarded silverware. And the laundry sits in the dryer until I feel like folding it and putting it away (i.e. when I must next do some laundry).

Basically, don't listen to me. I'm a sloth all the time.

Katie said...

I love your blog, you crack me up -I love how you are able to laugh at yourself, which is exactly what you need to do right now. You are who you are - but do tell that woman in your head to shut the f$#* up:-)

Miss Jess said...

I long for simplicity. My life is overly coordinated and planned out. As a woman, I think we are designed to be that way. Those other women who are not, are just freaks of nature.

Mom O Matic said...

Amy Kate - I hear you sister in sloth. There are times when I've actually fantasized that somebody would come and wash my feet while I watched TV. So it is all "Git er done!" when an industrial mood hits.

Areyou - The problem is I'm anal but not focused enough to pull it off. So it's usually spaz or freeze like a deer in headlights. I do like the shoes off thing though and will implement that one this afternoon!

Katie - I love that you said you loved my blog. Made my day. Yes, laughing at myself is imperative!

Miss Jess - There is nothing that makes me happier than throwing things away to simplify stuff. But I have a few friends that are zen as hell and I think they are amazing, would take that in a sec. if I could!

SoMo said...

Funny, my husband has a knack of walking in as soon as my ass cheeks hit the sofa for the first time all day. Then he starts in on me how I am not paying attention to the children, working with the younger one, finding the important he asked me to do, etc, etc, etc. Then he complains when I am up cleaning and constantly moving. So basically, I am living with your brain, so mine doesn't have to. LOL!!!

Aften said...

First of all I totally love your blog and I read it ALL the time! Ok, this is exactly how I was for 4 years, 2 of which I stayed home and the other 2 when I went back to work. I got so sick of having to clean every weekend when all I wanted was to veg and eat cereal on my god-damned days off ISTHATTOOMUCHTOASK!?!?!? Sorry, sorry... So here's what I did: I treated myself like an 8 year old and made me a chore list. I put it into my phone which sent alerts to me and gave it no more than 3 things a day. Like on Mondays, I would do a load of towels, dust, and clean the cat box. Tuesdays would be a load of whites, vaccuum, and clean the downstairs bathroom. If I ever skipped a day I would feel guilty and mad at myself because I had to catch up the next day on everything. After like a month it got to be second nature so now I'm in SUCH a good place and can handle the day to day dishes and stuff and just do a couple extra things and that way if the neighbor decides to "pop in" then you gots no worries girl! Hope this helps!!!

karen pery said...

I'm a believer in balance doesn't exist. The way I see it, we're always juggling, always prioritizing. I think the zen part (I'm guessing, as I've not yet arrived there) comes from being good with the choices you're making when you're making them, and spending time where it matters to you. And you - keep putting it out there. You know we're all thinking the same things even if not saying them out loud.

Mom O Matic said...

Somo - There is no phrase I have come to hate more than "What did you do today?" It's so loaded man. Even when it's an innocent question.

Aften - Thank you!! Sweet advice. I'm also hearing that I need to stock up on those disposable Clorox wipes rather than wait a week (or more..) and then getting on my hands and knees like an insane scullery maid.

Karen - So very well said. Whenever you leave a comment it's always so stellar. I'll be thinking about your words, thank you.

JC Little said...

Trust me, your "smiling and welcoming" friend was either gloating over her fluke zen moment that you happened to walk in on, or she carefully orchestrated it and fell apart right after you left. She was likely praying you wouldn't notice the nervous tick under her left eye.

There's no such thing as full time zen, it's an Ikea catalogue illusion.

I give up on housework. I delegate to the kids these days. They're so much more zen than me.

Mom O Matic said...

JC - She is the most incredibly sweet person so def. not gloating!

Ah, teenagers - I'm glad to hear they clean. Sweet.

Did you see Karen Perry's comment, she had a good perspective.

JC Little said...

I'm sorry; I re-read my comment and I guess it came off sounding rather mean. I didn't intend it that way. I'm sure your friend wasn't gloating and quite possibly is blessed with the ability to be in the zen space that Karen Perry describes so well.

Thanks and feel free to slap me gently anytime. Or yell loudly, "Watch out for that pedestrian!!" when I'm driving.

Mom O Matic said...

JC - No worries. I know what you were trying to say, there are folks out there that totally fake the zen. I did not think you were being mean at all, just wanted to clarify that this particular lady is stellar.

What I got out of Karen's comment was that it's not that we ever achieve this totally zen frame of mind where we are unrattled/unruffled. It's just accepting your choice and the moment you are in. If it's a cap'n crunch day then revel in it. If it's a cleaning day - sniff the bleach. Versus berating myself for not being in the right frame of mind. It's what my anxious ass will be striving for.

And, uh my foot resides in my mouth when I'm not walking on it. So please...no worries.

Marin said...

This was me. Today, all day. No making jewelry at the studio for Thursday's show. No cleaning, nothing productive. But when I get in the cleaning mood, watch out! The audacity of my family members to leave their belongings strewn about, right next to mine! Of course, I do have the smarts to pick up mine before I throw a fit. I feel one coming on; right after I have a little nap.