For a long while, I was in denial about the capacity of the washing and drying machines in Old Louise. They’re petite and stacked — not quite as small as the ones we had in the unit we shared after we were first married, which could hold about one pair of underwear and one washcloth per load, but nowhere near the capacious joy of the industrial-sized ones in my parents’ laundry room. For months, I would attempt to jam all of our sheeting and pillowcases and occasionally a spare towel or two into one load and would then grumble about the agony of disentangling and ironing them afterward. A few months ago, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was overloading the machines and needed to commit to a full day of laundering if I wanted to properly clean, dry, and iron my sheets.
I was thinking of this just yesterday, as I embarked on hour six of operation change-my-sheets, a weekly to biweekly (as in once every two weeks) occurrence chez Shoop, depending on the busyness of my schedule. It dawned on me that the simple practice of cleaning my sheets has become an all-day commitment (“can’t do it Tuesday, as I’ll be out most of the afternoon and don’t want the sheets sitting in sog for a few hours”), and I was startled to find that I wasn’t frustrated by this observation. I just nodded with a sensible kind of, “What are you going to do? If you want crisp sheets, this is the price you pay.”
You see, there are no shortcuts in life. Or so I have learned with time and maturity, through the opening and shuttering of a technology business and through the slow and steady evolution of this writing/blogging one. They say that it takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert in something, whether that something is playing an instrument or perfecting a golf swing or speaking another language. 10,000 hours. Anyone who promises you the easy way out, the 1,000 hour bypass, is selling something specious.
Sure, you could outsource the laundering. In fact, there’s an easy calculus to the value of my free time vs. the amount of time I spend ironing vs. the cost of having the dry cleaners downstairs handle it. But if it’s something I’m determined to do on my own, that I don’t half mind, well — I realized just yesterday that it’s not worth doing it all if I’m not going to do it the right way from the start.
And so I’m done with the notion of shortcuts.
And I’m over the word hack — especially when “life” is appended to the beginning of it.
And I’m finished with feeling guilty for not accomplishing something “big” every single day.
Instead, I’ve made peace over the past many months with the occasionally disappointing pragmatics of what can be achieved in a day, an amity that has proven to be one of the many unlikely and lovely gifts of motherhood. Some days my to-do list leaves me beaming with accomplishment. Other days, I’m relieved to have folded and put away a single load of laundry and successfully prepared three meals for mini. Lately, I’ve grown unbothered by these inequities in my day-to-day to-do lists and increasingly pleased with the general feeling of momentum I have established in my home. I think this is in part owing to the maturation of this pregnancy (over halfway there!) and the general feeling of mounting excitement for the future, and in part owing to the slow and final acceptance of my new and seemingly permanent roles in life: mother, homemaker, writer, wife.
About a year ago, I had lunch with a girlfriend downtown. She is in a committed relationship (but not married), deeply dedicated to her job, and with no immediate plans for children or pets. I couldn’t help but compare the ballasts of our lives: she was plotting upcoming extended travel abroad and important business meetings and I was probably pondering whether the next day was a suitable laundry day. She asked, unprovoked, how I was doing in that genuine way she has, her earnest eyes searching me for an honest and non-pat answer. I found myself faltering. I shared that some days I feel “less than” when asked what I do for a living. That other days I feel a biting sense of guilt when I nip out for the last hour of one of my nanny days to get a manicure and an afternoon latte, haunted by the thought that I should be doing something productive and work-related every hour I have the nanny on hand. And that still other days I relish my role as a mother and homemaker and can’t imagine spending half my week doing anything else. I then bristled at my self-absorption: I am aware of the insane privilege of having the opportunity to choose what I want to do, of finding a passion-come-profession that meshes well with motherhood, of having the financial resources to have a part-time nanny and enjoy an afternoon manicure and a latte to begin with.
That shuttlecock of guilt and uneasiness and self-shaming has all but disappeared in the past many months. I wrote late last year that I’ve never been so at peace in my life, and while I’m not sure where this calm has come from — whether it is age or the fading of painful memories or the confidence that parenthood has afforded or simply the inevitable comfort (complacency?) that comes with doing anything for a sustained amount of time — I find it much easier to shrug off the occasional flare of embarrassment I experience when someone asks “Where do you work?”, to pat myself on the back at night even when the only checked-off to-do items were routine chores around the house, to tell myself: “You are enough.”
And I can tell you this: there were no shortcuts involved in this evolution.
+I had some girlfriends over for Monday to watch The Bachelor and I made these (along with several snack recipes from this cookbook, my go-to for fun recipes for events like the Super Bowl) and they were INSANE.
+Looking for bump-friendly exercise gear as I went for my annual physical and the doctor politely nudged me into getting into a more formal exercise routine. (“What do you do for exercise?” “Um, I chase a toddler and walk around Manhattan.”) I promptly signed up for pre-natal yoga and went on the hunt for maternity-friendly exercise gear. This tunic-length sweatshirt (sized up) looks promising, and I just ordered these.
+Such a great neutral rug, and on super sale. Adds great texture/volume to a room!
+Jumping on the bandwagon with these…so adorable!
+It took me awhile to accept the return of the scrunchie, but I saw a chic gal at my nail salon wearing a scrunchie, a boxy neutral-colored sweatshirt, skinny jeans, and some GG sneaks, and she looked so on-point for a quick errand run. I want these.
+I dream of this bag.
+I was so sad to hear of the brilliant poet and writer Mary Oliver’s passing. So oddly timed that I would have written about one of her poems (<<a must read) just over a month ago.
+A great H&M steal if you’re into my oversized headband lewk.
+All of the sudden, I outgrew all of my bras (#pregnantmomproblems). I don’t know what I did last time around because I don’t recall buying any different/new sizes. I think I just made do and/or wore sports bras? But anyway, I decided to treat myself to my favorite bra in a larger size in the prettiest shade of pink and a couple of these uber-comfortable CKs in the cutest patterns, on sale for only $11/pop!!! I got the pale pink, a polka dot, and a stripe.
+Just added this to my next Amazon order — read the reviews!
+Would love to wear these post-baby.
+This post may in part inform my allergy to speed reading.