Today is the last day of a LONG vacation; other than a few days of freelance cold solve (checking 6th grade math problems), Ed & I have had no work and no school for nearly a month. Some people seize the free time of to get the “work” done that can’t be done during the regular “work” life- you know, organize all of those photos or baby clothes (still on my “to do” list) or visit those places that are not-so-local and require a day devoted to driving. We did none of that. Instead, the three of us lounged around the house – our parents during the holidays and our own after. We’ve taken walks around Jamaica Pond, worked out on a regular basis, played for hours at a time with Jack, tried half a dozen new recipes, watched a handful of movies, and slept in. Actually, Ed & I took turns getting up with Jack so one of us could sleep in until 8:30 or 9:00 (amazing). Also, and in case you are one of our very few regular readers, we’ve been blogging on a regular basis (for better or worse). Yesterday, we turned the heat down to 65 degrees to avoid an astronomical gas bill and even though we are freezing (well, I am), I am sad to be leaving the laid-back schedule which has allowed us to be a family for 24 hours a day.
When we were figuring out how to get Jack on a sleeping schedule, one of the things we discovered (and one of the few things that I found to be true in all the parenting readings) was that sleep begets sleep. The better Jack slept, the better he slept. Same goes with me and Ed, except the more we sleep, the more we sleep. Relationships seem to be like sleep – the more you are around another person, the better you get along. Love begets love. Maybe it’s the ability to pause and actually enjoy time with the other person- Ed & I ran errands last week while Jack was at daycare, but because that’s pretty much all we had to do that day, we took our time, getting coffee and browsing. It allowed us time to talk about all of those kinds of things we’d talk about before our entire life focused around Jack, and making enough money to (barely) pay our bills. You know, finding out where Ed eats lunch during the week and discuss elaborate ideas (that we can’t afford) for celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary this October.
I used to feel guilty about not getting big projects done when I had the time. When I was teaching full time, I always intended to revise my entire syllabus over the week break between quarters. Instead, I barely changed the one I had and students would get the course schedule only a few weeks at a time. If one student mentioned that they liked to plan further ahead, I was a confirmed bad instructor. During the summer, when we are inevitably less busy, I usually plan on going through and organizing all of our stuff in storage (clothes, books, Christmas decorations), but it never seems to happen. The only reason that I am remotely organized is that we move, on average, every two years.
Why is it that the more we have to do, the more we get done? Or, why is it that when I suddenly have the time to get those things done that are always on our to-do list, I find the greatest excuses in the world to put off doing them even longer? I usually use the, “I’ll do what I want since I have the time; my enjoyment is just as important as sorting Jack’s baby gear” -- even though I know I’ll feel better about myself if I spent the three hours sorting. The ironic thing is that when I am at my busiest, when I am fantasizing about having chunks of time to tackle the huge jobs, I actually get a lot more done in the process of having no time. In other words, I’m more likely to efficiently pump out a decent course schedule if I’m facing freelance work and SAT essay scoring than I am if I have an entire week of nothing to do. For me, procrastination rears its head when I have too much time.
I’ve decided not to feel badly about all that didn’t get done these last weeks. I realize that I’m too much of an outcome gal: I like to see the boxes clearly labeled and stacked; the pictures placed in chronological order in the photo albums. That way, I can always see the results of my efforts. Long term results are harder for me, like most, I assume. The labels for relationship outcomes are fleeting, though, of course more satisfying (Jack’s smile, Ed’s lingering kiss). The trick isn’t in knowing that Jack will feel more attached and secure because I’ve colored and danced with him more than usual. It isn’t knowing that Ed & I are able to laugh (rather than bicker) about those annoying habits (could you stack the pots and pans any worse?) because we’ve been spending more time laughing about other things. The trick is remembering all of this during the off-vacation days, the time when I’m trying to pack in all of those projects.