Summer SAHM-ing

I envisioned my summer nights differently: bursts of creativity, late night typing, epiphanies, and professional growth. Instead, I find myself heavy-lidded and drained, searching for mindless entertainment. My summertime days of full-time parenting are relentless. I understand this time to be a privilege, both because I can do this and because I do not always have to do this. In a few short months, I will be back in my college office and immersed in my conversations on writing, education, and culture. But for now, I am the invisible architecture of my children’s existence, creating boundaries and direction, making the space in which they live.

However, it is difficult to shed what I have come to see as valuable and productive. I prefer enduring work, a piece of writing, a new learning experience, then the ephemeral household labors. Last night, I began reading Charles Duhigg’s new book, Better, Stronger, Faster, the Secrets of Being Productive. I completed the first chapter on motivation, which discusses how when faced with challenging circumstances, Marines-in-training were asked why they were completing a particular obstacle. If they could identify a larger goal, such as building a better future for their family, they were more motivated to keep going.

While the concept of “big picture motivation” is not new to me, I began last night to consider it in light of my summer at home. Why am I limiting screen time? Why do I need to vacuum? I am setting up standards of behavior that will shape how my children live their adulthood. This exercise was a good reminder that what I am doing is important, even though it does not require me using my Ph.D., even though it is considered ordinary and to some unambitious.

Advertisements

Wandering Weeks Winding Down

For the past month, I have been un-tethered. My spring class did not fill, but my children were still in their school programs. For an introvert and “creative type,” this time has been nirvana. If you call sorting drawers, creating raised garden beds, mulling Foucault’s last seminar, listening to podcasts while housecleaning, thrift shopping, working on unfinished novels, trying out Youtube exercise programs, and reading six books simultaneously nirvana. Every night I have been exhausted and exhilarated by the minor adventures of the day. I wonder why we don’t provide ourselves with more opportunities to do all the tasks we have put off because they are frivolous and not on our long to-do lists.

For example, I have long wanted to take more photographs. However, instead of running with an idea or pausing to capture a moment, I let the impulse fade. This past month I have followed my whimsy, hanging out with the apple blossoms in the moonlight and waiting for foals to raise from their bed of tall grass.

Now, though, as I enter my final week, I cannot help but feel the angst of all I could not do. My novels could be more complete, my research paper written, my house cleaner, my muscles more defined, etc. I am trying not to get caught up in endpoints and remain within the happy space of the journey. I have realized my path, whether it be double majors or child-rearing and graduate school, will always contain multiple goals and identities. Therefore, accomplishments come more slowly. Every day I will continue to do what I love and what inspires me without trying to quantify it.