It has been so hard not writing here very often this summer. Keep in mind, I’m a type-A functional first-born. I do not start projects only to let them sit. I do not commit to something and then do it halfway. And above all, I do not cut myself slack.
But one good thing about this incredibly busy and stressful summer is that it ripped away the idea that I can do it all. I can be a sweet and loving wife with a clean kitchen and clean floors. I can have a creative job and surprise everyone at work with the freshness of my ideas. I can keep up with all my friends and turn our home into a hangout. I can remember everyone’s birthday, anniversary, and special day and get a card or gift in the mail to them on time. I can pour my truest creative self into all the writing I think about all day long. I can put my thoughts, recipes, and experiences here and delight my readers.
Well, I can’t. And it’s taken me the whole summer to say it out loud and to write it here.
All my stories at work just went out the very last day we could possibly send them to the printer, which has never happened to me before. Right now, my kitchen floor is two parts dirt, one part turkey pot pie gravy splatters, and three parts produce detritus. I haven’t blogged here–I mean really spent time on a thoughtful post (of which I have approximately 30 started, waiting, sitting) in months. I definitely sent my beloved brother-in-law a gift more than a month after his birthday. Heck, I’m still catching up on watching the Olympics!
But I think it’s going to be OK, and here’s why: I’ve lived my whole life feeling guilty for not doing things that only I told myself needed to be done. This is not a revelation for my family, I’m sure (hi, family!!). But weirdly, it feels like a revelation to me.
Just a few days ago, while moaning to Brad about how guilty I felt for not blogging (and cleaning, and writing, and creating a viable side business that equaled a creative genesis for the world…I know. Bless him for listening to me) he said something I’ve never, ever heard from myself:
You’re not guilty.
I feel guilty, sure. But I’m not guilty. Nobody is expecting me to do all these things. Nobody is holding a to-do list over my head. If I look around, I’m the only one at this table, both the persecuted and the persecutor.
So whither my salvation? Whither my way out of this self-inflicted insanity? You will not believe this, but it’s in doing the dishes. My absolute and unadulterated loathing for doing dishes is well-documented, but! somehow I’ve latched onto the idea that if–instead of noticing the dishes need to be done and then letting that thought burn in my brain, shoveling guilt into my mind while I do other things–I stop whatever I’m doing and quickly do a load of dishes, it’s like the rest of my haven’t-dones don’t even matter. I have completed the worst, the most heinous, the most pressing and guilt-inducing task of all, so I have really accomplished something.
Here is where my father plants his forehead on his desk, because this type of stuff is obvious to him and he labored my entire childhood to just get me to do. the. dishes.
But it’s not about doing the dishes. It’s about feeling like a productive member of the household for five minutes, someone who at least attempts to stay on top of dishes, even if she still has to brush dried kale bits off her bare feet before she leaves the kitchen!
All this to say: I hope I blog more this fall. I love looking back. I’m ridiculously sentimental. I want to remember what I was thinking, doing, talking about, reading, eating. And I want to tell stories and use them to encourage other people and point them to truth.
So I’m not giving up on this even if you all have moved on (I wouldn’t blame you!). And if you came over, I would totally give you protective footwear before asking you into my kitchen to help me with the dishes.
photo: I’m pretty sure chunks of garlic and dried tomato juice are still on my floor from making these roasted tomatoes earlier this summer
I love this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I hear ya on the dishes… I just keep telling myself I will be doing dishes the rest of my life… and now there is something comforting in doing the dishes, even when there are a gazillion other things to do.
one of your best posts yet. I love hearing your voice and laughing with you (OK, mostly because my floor probably has bits of last night’s dinner all over it, too, and it probably will for a while) and agreeing with Brad and nodding my head that one of blogging’s best parts is that it gives us the gift of looking back. Every time I hear you, I think, THIS is why we’re friends. You just make sense to me.
You two are the best. Inspirational, encouraging, understanding, fellow keepers of dirty kitchen floors…
Let’s hang out.
I’m still here with you, and I hear ya on all of the above. And oh how I loathe dishes, but they do make me feel very productive.
Thanks, Alison! I’m still with you, too–a reader silently squealing about how cute Corban is!!