Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stop, life!

Have you ever noticed that life doesn’t stop?  

Have you ever noticed that we expect it to?

I’ve encountered funeral processions a few times since my move.   And, because this is a very Southern town, everyone stops.  Now, having lived 3+ years in Northeast TN, either the funeral processions stayed off the main road or no one stopped.  I’m not sure; I just know that it has been a really long time since I’ve been stuck because of one. 

I must admit, I’m the jerk that tends to keep driving.  If I’m on a four lane divided highway, I generally keep going.  I was nearly in a wreck a few weeks ago because someone came to a dead stop and didn’t pull off to the side; I was expecting him to pull over or turn, not just sit in the lane for some unbeknownst reason to me, till I spotted the line of cars with white flags. 

Why do people stop?  I understand it for military processions, but if the person isn’t military, if there’s not a flag draped over the casket, why are we stopping?  And why is it considered rude not to stop?  I once criticized my husband for not stopping.  But I don’t have a good reason.  It’s respect for the dead, I’ve heard.  The dead have no idea what I’m doing so what difference does it make?  I should respect them while they’re alive.  I also understand allowing the procession to stay together, especially through red lights and turns.  But when they’re not turning… I’ve lost my reason to stop, and gained two screaming reasons to keep going.

This is leading to an actual thought, I promise.

I get frustrated that life doesn’t stop.  I want life to stop and let me catch up.  Stop sending me bills till I get the old ones paid off.  Stop making messes till I clean up last week’s mess.  Stop coming up with new ways of getting in trouble and let me take care of the old problems before making me tackle additional ones. 

Life doesn’t stop. 

It doesn’t stop because a loved one dies.  It doesn’t stop because you die, frankly.  It doesn’t stop because you can’t handle it.  It doesn’t stop for ear infections or UTI’s.  It doesn’t stop for moves.  It doesn’t stop because you throw up your hands and say “That’s it, I can’t take this, I need a chance to get caught up!” 

The dishes don’t stop accumulating because you’re trying to get caught up on laundry.  The laundry doesn’t stop piling up because you’re trying to de-allergen your child’s room.  The dust doesn’t stop collecting because you’re trying to teach your child to stack blocks. 

Especially once children become mobile, they develop this amazing ability.  They can make messes faster than you can clean them up.  It takes seconds to reach the coffee cup you left on the table and 45 minutes to clean the floor and toys that are now covered in cold coffee.  And while you clean the floor and toys, the dog has discovered the dirty diaper in the trash and shredded it on his bed.  And while you clean that up, the baby is given a book which she proceeds to chew and then puke up.  And while you clean that, the toddler has pulled every book off her shelf.  And on and on it goes. 

And some women are capable of catching up at night.  I’m not.  I can’t sleep, often, but my knees and feet feel like they’re going to explode so I take the late evening to prop them up and finally eat some dinner.  (My trip to urgent care this morning did give me some good news; I’ve lost 10 pounds without really trying!)

It’s all about balance.  It’s about keeping your house in a livable state, not perfect, but not such a wreck that your children can readily create chaos.  It’s about making priorities, but being willing to admit that occasionally, you’re going to have to put your children in the pack and play so you can clean their room so they can breathe when you do take the time to play with them.   It’s about having a good work flow, so that things run smoothly. 

Work in progress… I might have this motherhood thing down by the time my children are in their 30s.

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