Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Ball and Chain: The Mental To-Do List

The holiday season brings about a variety of feelings for many people, some happy, some sad.  I, as an educator of the masses for the past thirteen years, find it  liberating but also a bit daunting.  Free time, what is that?  I mean, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the freedom that the break provides for me and my girls - D is not so lucky as he is a part of the civilian work force and does not have the luxury of two pure weeks of laziness.  But really, neither do I. You see, I am cursed, cursed with idea of the perpetual, all mental, to do list (MTL).  If I am not productive, if I am not attempting to accomplish ALL that needs to be accomplished on my mental to-do list, I am lazy.  And lord forbid someone call me lazy (or stupid, that's not a good one either), as that would certainly send me into a tailspin of self-shame.

Now before I progress, let me explain that this is ALL me, I am the only one judging my household task progress. Before becoming employed as a full-time elementary school teacher, I was just your average Joe wife - worked five days a week, made dinners, did a few crafts, watched soap operas and socialized with friends.  No perpetual to-do list, probably because 1. I had a lot of time to get everything done and 2. my peers were in the same boat and there was no real competition.  But enter a job where I was able to pour my heart & soul, creatively and emotionally, into making a difference in 20+ lives, 180 days per year.Then top it off with the adoption of two awesomely perfect little girls and my life is full: great job, awesome kids and terrifically supportive husband.  Dot the i, cross the t, life is good.

So you ask, if everything was so great, what happened?  Why the self-doubt and self-nagging to do  more? 
Why the self-inflicted MTL?  Well, a simple conversation between a mother and son was my trigger and it goes a little something like this: Z had just spent a week with our family and upon returning home to his family, told his mother, in a non-demeaning, actually admiring tone, "Mom, you should be more lazy like Miss N. She isn't always rushing around doing things for everybody. She watches TV with Mr. D"  Well, of course, she chose to share this little gem of nonsense with me, claiming that her response was "Miss N. is the hardest working person I know.  I would not call her lazy."  But you know what I heard - her kid thought I was lazy. Why would she tell me this?  Did she not know me well enough to think that this would hurt my feelings?  I mean, who in the world wants to be called lazy?!  Whether or not intended, the comment stung and left a mark, a mark I have yet to shake off.

Fast forward, eight years later, and we make it through the holidays: great time spent with M & D, relaxing, shopping, watching movies and lots of home cooked meals.  But when the festivities are over and it appears as though I have too much time on my hands, MTL reared its ugly head and I got to steppin!  All of the Christmas decorations came down, repacked and safely stored for another year.  Put the primer on a bedroom, ALL laundry washed, dried and put away, and a crafting room in the works.  Not as much as I would have liked to accomplish but just enough to make me feel like an accomplished mama/wife.  Until the next break...

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