I’m back to work. My Google calendar is filled from pre-dawn to post-dusk. It’s color-coded, with colors for me, son, daughter, and meal planning, respectively. I start prepping dinner at 6am. By the time I get the kids to school and arrive at the office, I’ve done hours of parenting and housework (and cooking). After my allotted hours of work, I shuttle kids around town, fit in a yoga practice now and then, throw together the dinner that was prepped before the sun rose, and drive around for any evening activities. Vacuuming, mopping, walking the dogs, endlessly loading and unloading the dishwasher, lugging garbage and recycling bins up and down the long driveway get done in the spaces between Google calendar tasks.
We’re doing it.
The Google calendar helps so much. I do the task that pops up on my calendar alert. I don’t think about the other tasks. If they need to get done, they’re somewhere else on the calendar, so it does no good to fret about them. For example, why anguish over the article revisions I owe my co-author if I’m driving someone to her fiddle lesson? What good would it do to think about a scholarly literature review when I need to navigate this four-way stop sign? I look at the task ahead of me. I do it. I don’t agonize over the things I’m not doing. How could I? I’m not even thinking. I’m just doing, doing what I’m told. I’m surprisingly calm.
When I’m optimistic, I acknowledge that I’m living in the moment. But when I’m less Pollyannish, I concede that this system works because I’ve surrendered. I’ve stopped thinking of time as something that belongs to me. I’ve given over my time to my job, to my children, to the dogs, to this house, and to the periodic, debilitating bouts of grieving. They all deserve my time. They all demand it. I just move through the day, fulfilling my obligations, keeping people and canines satisfied, poised to comfort the occasional crumbling child (they grieve, too), savoring the glimpse of goodness or kindness or happiness I see along the way. (And there is goodness and kindness and happiness. I do see that.) I have a scholarly job, but I lack the creative spark, the time, and the space to be a scholar. I don’t feel joy. I don’t aspire to much beyond this, right now. I trudge through, and trudging is good enough, for now.