Deciding How Busy You Want To Be

Laurel doesn't like to be rushed through anything, but you know how life is...sometimes you are just trying to get to your in-laws without being an hour late. And so you don't have time to look at every possible outfit she may want to wear and have a lengthy discussion about wearing a pull-up or underwear, and then sort through all the animals to see which ones want to come on a ride in the car. So, you rush, she cries, and everybody feels tense until the rock n roll in the car has been playing for a few minutes and we all chill out a bit. We are very lucky - or maybe very smart - that we don't have to rush that much right now. Only a few weeks ago, my whole day was filled with carefully timed activities we were all rushing through. Now, I get eight hours of sleep every night and even nap during the day sometimes. I walk or bike everywhere. I linger.

I really enjoy Laurel's company when we are at a lingering pace. On Friday, I picked her up from school on foot and bought her a slurpie (purple - her "best" color, as she calls it) from the corner market. We meandered through the nearly 100 degree heat and when we hit the fork in the path and Laurel said, can we go to the woods, I said yes. Sure. Why not? Because it was shady down there and we had water bottles and we were not in a rush. She spotted butterflies and black-eyed susans and wondered about a plant that had a flower on it that she didn't recognize. She found dog poop and a smooth flat pebble and we marveled at how this old dead tree that had a big hole in it was just gone...fell over the side of the hill, with its rotten insides splintered into the leaf duff.

Being busy is a little bit addicting, and it's a pattern I fall into over and over again. In my Teach For America Days we worked 18 hours a day, and drank coffee by the gallon. We thought we were very important and doing very important work, and maybe we were, but the more I learn about kids and from kids, the more I know that slowing down is a better policy. Keep it chill. Follow their lead. Let them ask the questions.

I got a kick out of this New York Times opinion piece:

  Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 G.P.A.’s make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications. I recently wrote a friend to ask if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn’t have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and I gave up trying to shout back over it.

M and I are at a cross-roads (when are we not?) and figuring out how we can all live and work together and meet our needs and not go crazy. Not being too busy is an integral part of our happiness. But every time I strip away the busyness that has piled up, I start to feel a little insecure. Am I still important? Am I still relevant? Will people think I'm lazy?


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, then no. They will think you are smart. Or I will anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anyone that knows and loves you will also know the truth. You can't rush through Motherhood or you will miss too much that you can never get back. Take your time to enjoy Mark and Laurel and save some time for yourself.
Love, Aunt DC