As I write this, at just shy of 5:30, I’m exhausted. Though I had a couple months of what you could call “sleeping through the night,” our version of it left more to be desired, and anyway it’s not happening anymore. A month-long string of teething and sickness and travel has left my now one-year-old boy having seemingly forgotten how to sleep through the night. So it’s back to the drawing board, and I’m tired, but not just because I’m not sleeping.
I’m tired of not sleeping. I’m tired of that being the dominant storyline in my life. I’m tired of using it as an excuse for why I can’t seem to make forward progress in my writing or fitness goals. So this year, much as it pains me, I’m thinking about resolutions.
So many things have changed since Deacon arrived. That boy is an utter delight; he seems lit from within. But I can’t say that adjusting to being a family of five has been easy. With this child, more than any other, the dynamics have shifted. We’ve all struggled to find our place. I have trouble like I haven’t before to determine the best use of my time at any moment. In each small pocket of time I find, I dither between: shower or laundry, clean something or cook something, rest or work out, sit with my child or busy myself, run an errand or savor the quiet at home. Often I find myself at 6:00 PM, somewhat miraculously, with dinner ready, homework done and, if I’m lucky, the living room floor picked up but feeling like that’s it.
When this happens, I remind myself that I fed five people three meals that day, wholesome meals, likely cooked from scratch, and I might have packed up some food for someone else while I was at it. As a result, by that time, I’ve usually swept the kitchen floor twice already. I’ve probably read stories and sung songs and folded tiny clothing and signed reading logs and gotten two children where they need to be while toting a third along for the ride, and wiped counters and spoken to friends. I’ve probably done many small, good things. This is fine, because that’s what my life is right now—a collection of small, good things. I don’t necessarily yearn for bigger things most days. I just want to know at any moment that I’m choosing the best of the choices I’m given so I might be at peace when I see all the other things that didn’t get done.
It’s why I can get up today, after a night of interrupted sleep, and brew coffee and sit in my living room where piles of clothing litter the floor in front of me, waiting to be donated. I will get to them. Straggling Christmas decorations and gifts sit stacked on the dining table behind me and in the loft, waiting to find their homes. They will find their place. I resolve not to let the undone define or undo me.
This year I’m working on choosing the important over the urgent. Tonight, if I’m doing it right, this will look like going to the rec center to swim laps once I get the baby down, even though it’s cold out and the couch calls to me. It might look like building Legos with my daughter amid a playroom upended. It might mean abandoning the vegetables I’m chopping to kiss my husband when he walks in the door. It might look like leaving a sink full of dirty dishes to go have coffee with a struggling friend (or it might look like letting a friend in for coffee when I have a sink full of dirty dishes and I am the one who is struggling). In the next few months, as I face weaning the first baby I have successfully nursed to his first birthday, it might mean sitting in his room with him at my breast longer than I really need to, even as other tasks go unfinished.
I don’t say all of this to brag. Hardly. I’ve managed to get up early to write exactly once, and you’re looking at the result. It’s January 6th and there have already been days I just couldn’t. There will often be days I do and feel like I have nothing to show for it. There will always be something else I could be doing that might be more “productive.”
I guess I share this here to put a stake in the ground. To say out loud, I’m making a change, even though I don’t know whether it will matter. Even though I’m not sure whether I’ll stick to it. Even though I’m not sure if anything will come of it. This feels important to me, and I’m doing it anyway.
I hope my doing it encourages you to try that thing you’ve been meaning to, to make that change you’ve been putting off. Even if it feels too big or too small. Even if you’ve already failed a hundred times. Even if you’re afraid you’ll fail again. Even if no one will ever notice. Especially if countless other tasks call to you instead. I’m choosing not to let the undone undo me, and so should you.