Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Outrageous Expectations

Henrietta, in a field by my parents' house, doing her funny little slumped-shouldered, overwhelmed run.
 Last night, as Sam and I put Henrietta to bed, I noticed a pair of silky, light-purple pajama pants on Henrietta's floor. They were handmedowns from cousins, which I had sorted out of her dresser the other day because the elastic waist was shot, and I thought, picking them up to find a place for them, "I should just throw these out."

And my next thought, sponsored by the mean, Pinterest-saturated voice in my head was, "Throw them out?! Are you kidding me? How shamefully wasteful. You really ought to turn them into a pretty little purse for her. Yes, yes, that's it, sew the fabric into a pretty little purse. She'll love it forever. You say you don't have time? Absurd. Sewing them into a purse is really the proper use of resources and time. Just make time for it. It's important. You have to. It won't take long. If you care at all about Henrietta and your finances, you'll do it."

That voice in my head says stuff like this to me all day. About organizing my pantry shelves. About carefully going through my jewelry and repairing what's been broken by Henrietta's enthusiastic touch. About over-the-top things I should do for friends, like sew a quilt with two days notice, or make dozens of fabric snowballs as a birthday gift for a child. I get these ideas all day, these arguably good ideas, but outrageous all the same.

I don't have time to sew the worn out pants into a pretty little purse. Ain't nobody got time for that. And this was where that mean voice made a mistake: it was so absurd I was onto her. I was onto her! And all the other things I had been thinking about my life, all of the other absurd expectations I had issued myself came tumbling down, and even the reasonable ones were called into question.

I'm still working on this. I'm always working on this. Didn't I write about this before? But here I am. Doing what's in front of me, what I have a moment to do, instead of making elaborate plans to do it every day at this time, perfectly, forever. And now I'm going to take a walk, and I'm going to try to just think about that walk around the neighborhood, and I'm not going to think about doing it every day until I can run a marathon, and I'm not going to think about how I really should have made fresh granola yesterday for breakfast while I eat my cold cereal. I'm going to try again to hush that voice and get to work, the work I can actually do. And when the day is over, it will be over. And I will throw out the pair of pants and sit on the couch for a show and a piece of chocolate before I stumble up to bed to sleep and try again.

Henrietta, resting after her funny little overwhelmed run.