Not every day is a good day, and that’s perfectly normal. It doesn’t make it easier when you have a crappy day though. And it doesn’t make it any easier when you haven’t had a crappy day (nothing wrong with today on the surface), but feel crappy all the same.
Exciting stuff, by definition, can’t happen all the time, otherwise it wouldn’t be exciting. Exciting means something outside off the ordinary. And ordinary is what happens day in, day out. It’s just exciting is few and far between and sometimes ordinary feels like it’s going to suffocate you with its blandness.
Everyone has a routine they go through every day, and it sometimes feels like you’re on some kind of demented hamster wheel after a while, this unvarying routine, this constant juggle of kids, jobs, chores, sleep, over and over again. I don’t know about you, but I never feel like I have enough time for any of it. And then I try and squeeze writing in around the sides, in time when I probably should be either working or sleeping (like now). Multi-tasking is a fact of life, regardless of whether we can technically pull it off or not (which we can’t, we have a finite attentional resource and struggle to perform tasks at the same time which need the same bits of the brain).
I think after a while we realise this is normal, that ordinary is normal, the cyclical nature of our days is normal. Until we realise this we can get tied in knots, particularly in the age of social media. Everyone posts pictures of their ‘best lives’ online, nobody posts pictures of what life really looks like. Real life doesn’t always have make-up, or even clean clothes. There are frequently piles of dirty dishes in the sink, we don’t always smile and pyjamas are everyone’s favourite clothing.
We think other people eat dinner at the table every night, other people’s kids watch less TV, we only see the happy side of anyone’s relationship and we always think other people are socialising more than we are. They’re not. Really, they’re not. None of this is real, it’s simply a comparison of what people choose to share. And even if other people are doing these things more than you, so what?
All parents are almost permanently knackered (I miss having enough sleep, I really do, I love sleep) and on guilt trips because we didn’t spend enough time focusing on the kids, that we have jobs which take us away from our kids, that we’re so tired we’ve let our kids watch too much TV instead of playing with them or doing fun things out and about. And we all beat ourselves up for this. Thing is, we all have to pay bills and very few of us have a boss that allows us to spend all the time we want to with our kids, without dropping hours and pay of course. Most of us are always tired so let the kids watch more TV, because we’re too tired to properly interact with them all the time and think of fun activities to do. Then we watch too much TV. I don’t know what couples with kids do in the evening, I’m not one of them.
All adults think that other people go out more, that they watch less TV, that they have more friends, their relationships are happier, and most do more exercise than they do. Nobody goes out every night, everyone watches more TV than they let on (everyone binge watches stuff on TV), the ideal number of real friends is between 5 and 10, depending on the source you read, and the happiest relationships I know are rarely visible on social media (it’s almost like they’re happy enough not to display it – I know, such a radical approach).
Today is a quiet day. L is at her dad’s, I’ve got work to do, despite having been there all day, and my house is just too damn quiet. My computer is on, cat is asleep across the room and I’ve got a glass of wine and a cheesy action film on the TV (cheesy action films with limited plot are surprisingly conducive to writing of all varieties believe it or not, easy to dip in and out of without missing much!).
I don’t mind the quiet most of the time, I don’t mind being by myself at all, it’s low on drama (which is good) but every so often the quiet is a bit deafening when L isn’t here. I’ve got used to the noise of a small person, and I don’t really like it when it’s not there, it’s not quite right somehow. I need something else around here sometimes. Someone. Could I go out? No, I’ve got a lecture to write (which is obviously going swimmingly), it’s not like that is optional. Writing this blog simply delays it until a bit later and means I have to spend longer tomorrow writing it instead.
That’s the other thing that’s wrong today, I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. And I don’t know how to make that work. It’s no different from anyone else I imagine, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. There’s always more that creeps in now, with every job, employers wanting more and more out of their employees, forgetting that there are things in life besides work. There are lots of things in life besides work, we don’t all want to work 24/7.
Work to live or live to work? It seems to divide people, and sometimes depends on what you do for a living. But we’re usually one or the other. Which are you? I work to live, I want to live my life not be a slave to whatever job I do. Yes I love my students, yes I care about whether the work I do for them is good enough. Of course I do, it’s called a conscience and academic integrity.
But outside of this I want to write and raise my little girl the best way I know how – by being there for her while she grows up, by being a mum she knows she can rely on. She doesn’t just need a good role model, a mum who shows her she can succeed at whatever she puts her mind to. Sure I give her that, but she also needs a mum who will look after her, be there when she’s happy, sad, poorly and just tired and in need of a cuddle. She needs love on demand, and I need to be the one to give that to her.
She needs to know she’s my priority. Which she is, as most people already know, including her. That’s why she’s at her dad’s right now, for a double night visit, which in her world is a holiday with her dad, and very exciting.
So it’s too quiet for me here.
The people I want to talk to aren’t here and I can’t talk to them, because it’s late, they’re busy and with their families, so I don’t want to disturb them. Also I’m feeling mildly antisocial and don’t actually want to talk to anyone anyway. I’m nothing if not a contradiction sometimes. I’m also a little mad at one person I want to talk to, so I’m being stubborn and not talking to them for now.
So I’m writing, because today is a not one of the good days. But I’m sure a better day is just around the corner, somewhere, when I find time to get off this crazy hamster wheel of daily life.