Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Straining to hear the distant call of the elusive Leisure spirit

Does anyone ever read this? I know I used to have a dedicated following of 2, sometimes 3, people. I've nearly stopped largely because a) it takes too much of my time and b) it takes too much of my time. Yes, I know, that was repetitive. But it's time that I could be spending a) with my kids, or b) doing any household chore you can possibly think of. To sum up: I feel bad blogging, and I feel even worse when I'm trying to justify it taking that time. So I slowed to a crawl and feel inclined to give it up, regardless of how much I might enjoy it (in those moments when I can say "to heck with feeling bad.")

But if I peel back a layer or two of this "feeling bad" moldy onion, I also have to recognize that I would feel the same about any leisure activity. That just doesn't seem right. Right? Crafts, reading, exercise, the occasional nap, correspondence (hah! not on your life; my hand starts cramping and I miss whole words and then send a scribbly scrawly nonsense letter. Wouldn't you feel special receiving one of those?) Any of those are things that it seems my friends do, and do frequently, and don't appear to feel bad about doing them. Do you? I mean really? Do you feel like you should be doing something else, or reading another story to your toddlers? Let's be honest, the to-do list of a mom and/or homeowner and/or human being is ENDLESS.

Please don't tell me "well, I make sure I have balance in my life by scheduling my time so I have an hour of x,y or z and then an hour of leisure time." Because even if I do that, I spend that hour feeling bad about the to-do lists, esp. the ones that could seem leisurely, or at least will give me some mental peace: organizing the baby clothes (which I'm currently doing, on bedrest, as best I can.) Painting the stairs (which is on hold for a few months; I can't imagine painting and newborn care go well together.) Or any other jillion things that require spreadsheets and filling out forms and phone calls and gathering information and stops at the post office, etc. that really aren't leisurely at all but must be done and when they are done I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders...perhaps that's it? Perhaps the question is: how can I justify and enjoy leisure time when there is a weight on my shoulders that will not lift until it is all dealt with, but dealing with it all right now might be the end of us all? So I just feel bad. And the kids are grouchy because I'm not reading them a book.

And now they are awake from their nap and I haven't done the 3 easy things on my naptime to-do list because I was trying to enjoy leisure time.

And I'm on bedrest for crying out loud! The one (ahem, second) time in my life I am ordered to remain still and do nothing. But I can't do nothing because that's not leisure it's lazy boring nothing, and surely I can at least fold clothes, read books, sort through stuff, make phone calls, reply to emails, pay bills...gotta say, bedrest ain't what it's cracked up to be, it's just normal life made more difficult and complicated. And they say stress isn't good for the baby. Pardon me while I quietly pull out my hair (wouldn't want to scare the children!)

Well, how was that for a rambling post, let me see if I can follow myself:
1) Does anyone still read this?
2) How do in incorporate leisure time when there's so much to be done and you know you'll feel better when it's done?
3) Bedrest is the pits.

Ta-da! ;)


5 comments:

Meghan said...

I love reading your blog!! I check every few days to see you if had posted something new, and have been very disappointed lately that you haven't. And you aren't doing nothing on bedrest, you are growing a person!!! That's the most important job in your life right now. I too feel guilty about leisure time. I think it is a normal feeling. But I remind myself that by having leisure time I will be a better, more patient, more relaxed mother. And I do feel like I should be doing something else right now. As a matter of fact I have laundry that needs folding and a pile of dishes to be washed, and more painting to do. But I didn't feel like doing those things right now after running after two kids all day. So somethings just have to be let go. It's just a season in life right now. I know one day when the kids are older and off at their friend's house or doing homework I will have more leisure time. Then they can do the dishes and help fold the laundry too or whatever needs to be done. Sorry for my long windedness, but even if you (we, any mom) feels guilty about leisure time, it is still important to do it and for the kids to learn to entertain themselves for a little while. By the way I had to stop typing several times because Gavin and Aaron are beating on each other. Oh my....boys.

Anna Ray said...

Betsy,
I read your posts! Jesse set everything up so it notifies me when there is a new one. Plus I am just finishing my couch time of pregnancy so I have "leisure time" :)
Anyway for what it's worth I do not do everything. In fact 3 months ago I would have said I do very little. However, having to watch life go on about me for 2 months where I didn't even have the mental concentration or physical strength to read a book or pray a rosary I realized a bit more the value of mom. And now that I'm starting to feel better I also realized that everyone survived! Even my 1.5 year old became a master at getting cereal from the pantry & if she was left in her pjs all day did it really matter?
During survival mode our goals were only food & sleep. If everyone was washed & clothed we were doing really good. No the kids didn't have their balanced meals but they did eat & Jesse did his best to keep some fresh fruit in the house within the kids reach. God also helped me to be content with the circumstances & to accept help & even ask for help. We were very blessed this pregnancy to have lots of family & friends who came over & did our dishes, made food, and played with the kids. My ability to accept help humbly & gratefully kept me peaceful and only God can give that grace because it is not easy.
So, in summary we found adequate food & sleep were essentially but not much else really mattered. Messes can always be cleaned later. Extra movies don't ruin the kids. More people than you realize can & want to help. And you can both be blessed by allowing them to do laundry, dishes, & cooking. Being content in all circumstances is a grace. God will help! This too shall pass! Listening to little house on the praire audio books with the kids helped too. Hearing their trials really put mine in perspective. Praying for you!

Karen said...

Yes, yes and yes... I read this!! I DO NOT feel bad about taking leisure time at this point, because there was almost none of it for years :) And we're headed back into that phase of life, so I give myself a lot of leeway. Developing skills in areas that interest me (sewing, etc) will serve me later as hobbies or employment when the kids are out of the house (and I consider this important too!). Admittedly, Tim and I have very average cleaning standards... I don't have a routine, and we just make sure that we have people over often enough to motivate me to clean for them :) Sounds silly but it works for me. I don't stress about little details (need to wipe out the microwave? need to put away outgrown clothes? it'll happen eventually...), and I absolutely don't feel bad when Tim does the laundry (or other chores I usually do) because I haven't gotten to it. Seasons of life... I'm so gratefult hat he's competent in those areas so life can go on when I'm not fully functional.

And, if you need the justification, I consider blogging important because a) it keeps distant friends and family up to date about us and b) it documents our family over the months and years... it's an investment and I know the kids will appreciate it when they're older, as will Tim and I.

And I can't imagine bedrest with two small kids... I'm sure it's hard, unpleasant and stressful. But don't feel worthless or lazy... it's your lot in life right now, and I wish you joy as you endure it :)

Love you!!!!!

Reenie said...

I also enjoy your blog posts. And since you demand a response... just kidding.

I know this: I am not a person to give advice on how to have good quality leisure time and let other stuff go. I am hopelessly behind on everything in life and yet... somehow life goes on. I think it is about priorities. If I decided to catch up on everything before doing anything else, I would never leave the house. People are a priority for me (no matter how badly I fail at balance). So I attempt to remind myself of that (people even make the to do list sometimes, just so I remember).

My advice is... um... don't do what I do. DO revisit priorities regularly and make sure you are working on those. DO enjoy some down time. DO sit and read to the munchkins. And DO continue to blog. :)

How's that for a scattered, exhaustified comment :D

Alexis said...

I'm reading Fester! Good post, too. All thoughts that I have had before.
#1. I used to feel bad about leisure but then I got so desperate for it that it now qualifies as a need, therefore it makes the todo list and jumps to the top frequently.
#2. Blogging can be done for SO many reasons. I completely second Karen's reasons for blogging - they are mine exactly. I would add to the list it being a nice creative outlet. I just try not to get attached to it (who's reading, commenting, etc.) and not enslaved by it (stressing about keeping it updated or "thinking in blog"). The important thing for me is to not feel guilty about it one way or another. I went for 7 months without updating once. No guilt. It's my hobby - I can pick it up when i want to or put it down when I want to. No guilt. Oh, I also only post when I'm not around the kids, otherwise I get super-cranky when they interupt me, it's very uncool.
I can't imagine bedrest. Suckorama. More power to you and your hard working uterus.