ROUTINE. That was going to be my goal for 2018. It was going to be my mantra. My raison d’etre. 2018 was going to be a year of order and structure, of productivity and of set times for set activities. After a year of upheaval and personal trauma in which I couldn’t seem to get my shit together, I was finally going to get my life back on track!
It is now halfway through March, and I remain routineless. I am still in a constant state of catch-up, and for every one item I knock off my to-do list, it seems like another one of those suckers jumps on and brings a friend or two. And unfortunately, I have this annoying little personality trait: I am unfailingly hard on myself. I set expectations for my time and my day, and if I fail to live up to them, then I am failing personally. You can imagine that, with no routine in sight, this is exactly how I’ve been feeling for most of 2018: I’m an utter and complete failure!
Okay, reality check. My inner perfectionist is not actually that much of a drama queen. But you get the idea of what’s been going on in my head.
This past weekend I was out of town for my ten-year-old son’s hockey tournament Up North. (Oh, my wee man is SO CUTE out there in all his gear, with his team, working his little tush off. My heart could just melt! Okay, mom moment over.) It wasn’t the best weekend to be away from a workload perspective, because I had two content articles that required a mountain of transcription from recorded phone conversations before I could even begin writing them. It was Saturday at noon and they were due Sunday night. That on top of the fact that I haven’t written a blog post in, like, forever, I was behind on housework, I hadn’t done the grocery shopping, I hadn’t set foot in the gym for over two weeks… an opportunity of which my muffin tops have taken serious advantage (or so the waistband of my jeans tell me).
So here I was, in between games, scarfing down lunch at a diner called George’s Country Style Restaurant. I’m getting all kinds of looks from the regulars as I’m pounding my keyboard madly and sniffling over the fact that, once again, I am an utter and complete failure because I didn’t get this done before I left and I’m not going to be able to finish it by the time I have to get back to the arena and there is so much more stuff at home waiting for me that I’m not going to be able to do… Gah!!!!!
(Again, I may be exaggerating slightly. My inner perfectionist really isn’t that bad.)
Anyway, I was literally mid-keystroke when I had an epiphany. I stopped. Looked up. Oh my God…
Routines are an illusion. For most of us, they are a concept that rarely fits into our lifestyle. No one does the same thing every day. It’s just not possible. We have appointments that pop up every now and then. We have different due dates for different work assignments. We have get-togethers, meetings, surprise drop-ins by friends, we come down with the flu or a cold or pink-eye or whatever and can’t work at all. And sometimes we find ourselves out of town at a house league hockey tournament watching our kids get creamed by the Northern Ontario farm boys who are twice their size (I swear, there’s something in the water up there).
Here I am stressing because I’m failing at establishing a routine, and I’m allowing myself to become overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done. But also, here I am with an hour to spare for lunch, and I’m Doing Something. I’m knocking one thing off my list of Stuff To Do. Sure, I won’t get it all done in this spare hour, and in between the next two games I’m going to be back at a coffee shop, mooching off the free WiFi, plugging away at it again.
It’s not ideal. It’s not the perfect setup. It’s not routine. But I’m doing the work.
My epiphany in George’s Country Style Diner at noon on Saturday is that ROUTINE is an unachievable ideal. And since I can’t achieve it, I’m not failing because I haven’t established one. So instead of ROUTINE, my goal for 2018 is going to be to work when I have the opportunity, and forgive myself when I don’t. And the opportunity doesn’t have to be a vast stretch of time where I dedicate myself to one task and go from start to finish. Opportunity is taking those little moments to do bits and pieces. They may not be the ideal opportunities, but they’re there, and I can use them. And that’s all the “perfection” I’m going to demand of myself this year.
Case in point: I wrote most of this blog post on my phone last night while cooking dinner, with the time I had after washing the prep dishes and before flipping the steaks in the pan. I may not have my shit together, but at least I’m getting shit done.
P.S. I mean, c’mon… tell me my wee man in his hockey gear isn’t adorable!! *mommysmiles*