Spoiler alert

“I can sit in an empty room, and still get nothing done.”

That’s one of the concluding thoughts in Pamela Druckerman’s latest op ed in The New York Times, on the illusory joy of the “clutter cure.”

Another friend just posted this in her Facebook status “I worry about spending too much of my life putting off my life and the things I want to spend it doing. There is so much, there is too much, and too little time.”

Our daughter recently bemoaned the fact that the fourth grade is just so much work: “There are just so many things we’re working on and need to get done.” (Our son actually looks at her with this “Calm down” expression. He’s had the benefit of a far better curriculum and teaching strategy earlier in his school career than she has.)

What’s going on?

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed myself over the past few months with our new puppy and a winter that won’t quit (I’m in and out of this house so often with Maddock that I’m certain I can now get extra pants, a parka, boots, hat, and gloves on and off as fast as a firefighter dresses at the sound of an alarm. And yes, extra pants. It is freaking cold up here).

Working from home with with two kids in elementary school, a husband who travels a great deal and otherwise works long hours, and a dog who must spend at least an hour or so outside each day roaming about or flat out running… It leaves little time to consider what I’d rather be doing, or notice what I’m not getting done.

So. What would I rather be doing? What am I not getting done?

***

I have this thing I do, when I’m watching a movie that’s a little suspenseful–especially a movie with characters I’ve grown attached to. I look up how it ends. There was research done on something like this, that a story’s “tension detracts from our enjoyment.”

“What would I rather be doing? What am I not getting done?” These questions introduce a lot of tension, once the answers start pouring in.

Maybe it’s best not to ask. Maybe it’s better to look ahead.

I look forward to the summer, when our dog is a bit older and we’ve finished our puppy kindergarten and I don’t panic every time he does something I didn’t foresee or read about in my extensive research.

I look forward to the fall, when middle school for our daughter will begin and she’ll see that she can handle far more than she thinks. When our son will be in the third grade and grow more independent, without his sister attending the same school.

I look forward to the next winter, because then, my husband will, as pattern has dictated, be more comfortable in his new position and be more relaxed about his hours (it’s already starting to happen: I often forget how stressful moving into new positions every few years, with new people and new responsibilities, must be for him).

I look forward to next year. By then, I’ll know whether a new aspect of my writing job will have taken off.

I look forward to the future, because stuff will already be done.

I just don’t enjoy the tension before all these accomplishments. I mean, I’ll get through it. We’ll do it. It’ll all get done. The “before?” It’s just a process: One of countless processes that we all move through, riddled too often with tension and regret and fear and frustration.

They’re transient. Processes generally mean little (as long as nobody gets hurt). What matters is (generally) what they lead to.

Anyway. I look forward to the end of today.  I’ll have already cleaned the house from top to to bottom, cooked up some home-made mac and cheese, and baked banana bread.

I love spoilers.

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