I wrote about my countdown list for the end of the year three days before my 50th birthday. Shortly after that, I felt the signs of a flare brewing that crescendoed around December 18th. I spent the rest of the year in bed, on the sofa, or in the hospital for a quick diagnostic procedure. I should get the results this week or next.
My list fell by the wayside. I slipped into melancholy, thinking about everything I didn’t get done. I thought about coming here and updating the list and explaining my absence, but I disliked facing my failure. Yes, a list of unchecked tasks is a failure to someone like me who thrives on purpose and routine. I had hoped my list was something I could control during a time that felt very much up to whim.
My gloomy mood didn’t last forever. I knew I did the tinsel on the tree and the ottoman covers, so I decided to strike those off the list. Something is better than nothing. I worked up the nerve to come on here and look at the list with eyes partially closed to avoid the glare of defeat.
Put tinsel on a tree for the first time Decorate the mantel for Christmas; maybe battery-operated candles this year?
- Dried citrus for kitchen
Clean off ottoman
- Buy baskets for the media console
- Buy baskets for bookcases
- Buy lights for bookcases
- Decorate tops of bookcases?
- Source vintage landscape or art for home library
Clear off white cabinet in home library Wrap all presents Take pictures for Christmas cards Send out Christmas cards
- Clean first, second, third, fourth, fifth,
sixth, seventh, and eighth bookcases Put covers on ottomans
- Schedule OBGYN appointment
- Bring books to donate to the school library
- Clear out the TBR school pile
Buy and install wallpaper
- Decide on pictures for the gallery wall; print
- Hang pictures
Replant urns outside
- Mulch for kitchen planters
Clean out the glass/tea cabinet in the kitchen Clean out the toaster oven
- Read my 100th book for the year
- More updates as they come to mind
I did more than I thought. How predictable.
Women, by and large, operate under an illusory sense of failure. On any given day, we believe we are frauds who have failed at work, parenting, and homemaking. It doesn’t help that we usually try to do all three at once. Refusing to multitask doesn’t absolve us of guilt, however. If you relish your work, you are only that much worse as a mother or homemaker. Women who are childless by choice are immediately suspect. If you find joy in homemaking and have a gaggle of children, you are, as a law professor told me, “a disappointment to me and all the women who worked so hard to give you opportunities.” This, all of this, is nonsense.
The other day an online friend called me a mother mentor. This is laughable, but I understand the sentiment. I’m older, and my children are older. It’s nice to watch someone travel the road a few miles ahead of you so you can get the lay of the land and avoid a few of the more considerable pitfalls. I do this often and am a huge fan of crowdsourcing advice. Some people learn by experience and resent advice, of course. To each their own. If you like a mentor, here is what I see from my spot on the road.
Most things are the same. The road still has uneven spots, holes, cracks, and hills and valleys that sometimes feel insurmountable. Thanks to my developed endurance (50 years!), the good news is that the journey feels easier. I’ve come to realize that cracks happen and don’t extend forever. They are not fissures; even if they were, most fissures can be repaired. I am getting better at accepting the imperfect.
How I feel on the road has become much more important than how I look on the road. This could go without saying.
I have become far less interested or invested in what’s happening on the other roads. This stretch feels fantastic. I put up weird wallpaper and wear comfortable shoes. I buy quality items I plan to keep for years, if not forever, and don’t worry about whether or not they are in style. I still feel like a fraud every now and then and wince at my to-do list, but only for a little bit. It doesn’t take me as long to remember that everyone is a fraud and that list is just a list.
The road doesn’t go on forever. Memento mori! This is sobering and something I am only just now realizing as I get more and more reminders. It feels less fantastic than wallpaper and shoes, but far more important. There is more road to travel.
Wherever you are on the journey, hi, I see you. I hope you are doing well.