drops from the day

I was going to blog Thanksgiving, oh, ten days ago.  But I didn't, so I am blogging it now.

I want to tell you about it.

How I cooked all of the food and it actually tasted really... good.  

How nice it felt to be in my kitchen, on my feet all day long for two days in a row, actually producing something worthwhile rather than treading water and re-sweeping and spinning and spinning.

It was hard work but the final product was so satisfying.  I think that sometimes it may actually feel better to do just slightly more work.  Sounds counter-intuitive, I know.

Hey look!  I made all of that!

I made seven courses plus two pies, all from scratchy scratch scratch. See those white squares on the top of the stuffing?  Those are butter.  I used... (hide your eyes) four pounds of butter in this meal.

It's unbelievable how much time and energy we have to put in, just to scrape by.  Just doing the bare minimum or even a fair amount.  Just living, especially as a parent, requires you to do thousands of things you don't want to do every day.  It is easy to get stuck in that hollow place-- just doing all the necessary stuff, silently cursing it in your head, toiling in ways that no one will ever see or recognize.  Turning around to a new mess and then turning back again to another one.

I feel like I am squeezing every drop from my day but am I really? I want to look back on every day feeling unblurred.  I want to close my eyes and know that something happened.  Not just the done-and-then-already-undone stuff of life, but something beyond that.  I write here fairly often about my thoughts and ideas and creative drive, how they are all pushed to the side, how I don't have the time or energy to get them out or organize them. 

I'm just trying to get by, or so I say.  I just want my house to be clean and my family to be fed.  And I do want those things, except at the end of the day I don't ever remember what happened.  It is a 11pm and then it is 11pm again and again and on and on, and when it isn't 11pm it is time to get Clark from preschool or it's meal time or bath time or whatever and weeks and months go by, spinning and spinning, wondering what happened.  It isn't a horrible lot or anything and there are so many things I love about this life, it's just often so static.

I always wonder about those other people, the ones who keep chickens and teach their kids other languages and write books and create and I don't understand them or how they can do all of that AND the daily grind stuff.  I always imagine it would involve letting something drop, but it is becoming clearer:  it would really only take a tiny bit of extra planning, a tiny bit of extra effort, a tiny bit more of me.  

A tiny bit. 

The difference between making dinner and making Thanksgiving dinner isn't much, but the difference in satisfaction at the end is great.  Maybe the answer to my static is to take on more, raise my expectations for myself rather than lower them? I think that "just getting by" might be 90% of the effort. It's just that little hard bit leftover separating me from the feeling that Something Happened each day.  

This is probably all very obvious, except in my day-to-day moments when it doesn't feel obvious at all.  So I guess I am writing it here as a way to remind myself, and for you too, if you need reminding.  

And anyway, I also learned how to make pie crust.  So hey, there's always that.

(Did anyone else make the whole Thanksgiving for the first time this year?  High five!)

And now? I can officially start blogging about Christmas.


  1. You are so right. About everything.

    I tend to fritter my free moments, five minutes here, five minutes there, by checking email or staring out the window. If I just picked up my knitting and did two rows instead, or jotted down a thank you note to someone, or whipped up some muffins---I'd feel that much better about myself.

    (But do keep in mind, you're in a tough stage right now with three littles. It really does get a lot easier as they get bigger.)

  2. I think you hit on something about living at 90% and it only taking 10% to get to something bigger or something more satisfying or more productive or more complete. I've definitely avoided that 10% for a variety of reasons and I don't have three kids! I have zero kids. I'm also trying to focus on contentment because I think it's key to be content whether you are at the 90% or 100% or even 56%. Love you! I'm so glad you got this out!!!

  3. I get the spinning and spinning and the hard and the wondering about just putting in a little more but sometimes I honestly feel like I have no more.

    That's not true, actually. There's always more, but sometimes I'm just too tired or sad or selfish to dig down and find it.

    This resonates strongly, my friend. And kudos on the Thanksgiving day meal.


  4. I didn't get to make the whole meal this year but I really want to someday, finally. I was reading something that really struck me, about a woman who went in for a minor surgery and almost died, and her thoughts after. She wondered what would have happened if she had died. Her underwear drawer, her secret things she saved, the little piles she would have left behind. It really has given me an extra boost. Not that I'm so awesome at life now, but that little tid bit can do a whole lot.

    Actually today I was really not feeling it but your post is the push for me now. Thank you.


  5. Casey and I talk about this all the time. How we feel like we put out so much effort just to sustain life with a kid.
    However, we're ramping up the 10% effort and it is actually energizing and more gets done. Systems I never thought I'd use are helping me have higher expectations and fulfill them (meal planning? calendars? project time?)

    Good job on Thanksgiving.

  6. Wow, good on you for making the entire meal from SCRATCH! I still cheat on the pie crusts and buy the frozen ones.

    Of course now you made me want Thanksgiving dinner again... ;)

  7. You know how I operate Erin. It's different than the way you do it. I got antsy when the boys were little. Nanny always thought I had too many irons in the fire. I always have thrived by having more going on and working toward something with a reward at the end. I think...?

  8. :) I jumped to read this post after so much silence. And the silence makes me feel better. Really. I think of you as my secret-blog-buddy who doesn't know me but has three young-uns too. And when I'm not blogging. --(Ack, no time, I swear. Only time for that running circles till 11 pm every night for me too.) I seriously feel better that I'm not the only one who can't seem to keep up with this other lovely writing-blogging land.
    PS. The chickens and whatever may look huge...but it's always the initial learning and incorporating hurdle that kick butt. After that it's just a part of the routine. Like me, I'm scared to death that my kids will be in school next year and I'll have a "wake up time, make lunches time," and all that...but the homeschooling and chickens and gardening...challenging to get going on but definitely just part of our day now.
    Cheers to you Mama! Perhaps I'll get a post out this week too. Perhaps. You've inspired me. :)

  9. That's a beautiful pie. And a beautiful meal. And what you think of as just getting by...I would argue that your kids will think back on as "BEST MOM EVER" moments. And yes, that was an intentional all caps. I speak the truth. <3

  10. you've inspired me. i've been getting by on "just enough" for so long. but if i could just add a little here, a little there, so much more could get done.

    like right now, there are dishes in the sink and an empty dishwasher - i had to quit loading b/c lucy was trying to lick the dirty spoons. so instead of laying in the bed like i really want to do, i'm going to go down and finish loading the dishwasher. and then i'll have clean dishes in the morning. and i'll have you to thank for it.

  11. You are so, so right about this. It's the thing that has made my life so much happier. Pushing myself to do things beyond just the day to day because those things dull my brain and numb my soul. Doing something more, something extra, even when there's no time and less energy. Just a little bit more. Because I feel so much better. Because I AM so much better when I'm getting somewhere and not just treading water. You said this all so well.

  12. I feel like you always have the concrete words for the weird feelings in my brain. I'm so in that hollow place right now. And anytime I do try to do something extra, the other things that slip drive me so crazy that it doesn't seem worth it. Even though I do totally understand about more work feeling better. I just can't seem to find that balance though.

    Your meal does look wonderful though. That's a pretty impressive crust for a first try!

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words of wisdom. Know that I'm right here with you trying to do the same thing (plan ahead and accomplish more than the basics...)

  14. Your Thanksgiving meal looks amazing. I have never made the whole thing, but I understand the feeling of satisfaction of which you speak. I do write books - I edited an anthology a few years ago and am querying a YA novel now that took me two years to write. I wrote my novel in one-hour chunks, usually on Monday nights, because on Mondays I still felt like a go-getter. I wrote one when I was in my twenties in airports (I had a shitty job).

    It's super hard to find the hour (and I only have one kid), so I write it down in my calendar and sit down once my girl is in bed and clamp on the headphones and set the timer on my computer and just go. I'm getting ready to start a new novel, and I'm going to do it again. I query the YA novel five agents at a time over my lunch hour.

    You can do it, whatever "it" is. Just take one tiny step forward every day. It might take a year or two -- you might be a year or two older when you're done -- but you'll be a year or two older even if you don't do it. Someone told me that once and I decided to get a master's degree immediately afterward.

    Go for it.

  15. so proud of you! i totally took Easy Street and went to my uncle's house for thanksgiving. i made a gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting and lemon zest... not ONE person took a bite! not a slice! oh well. your oven was the yummiest looking oven in all the land, so there. love you.

  16. you, my dear are amazing... thank-you for being honest and true... I appreciate all of your post and most often find comfort in not being alone. My problems are somewhat different in that my house is super clean and somewhat organized , but I find myself putting off my two boys and letting them play with daddy while I do the other stuff, which comes more naturally to me. So tommorrow I shall play with my boys more and make a more simpler dinner and push my 90% in that direction. Keep up the blogs little miss S.W. you are affecting many lives. Sleep easy and enjoy your Saturday!

  17. Such good wisdom.

    And I can't imagine making the entire meal! Everything in your oven looks delicious! And that pie? I want a slice!

  18. you are amazing. someday, i hope i can make the entire thanksgiving dinner from scratch. you give me hope that i'll be able to do that. this post was absolutely spot-on, and everything you write feels that way to me. i need to put in a little more, but that's just so i can get through the everyday nonsense at this point. thank you for reminding me.

  19. I often wonder about how effortless it seems for some women to just do it all. I think about it over and over but eventually always come to the same conclusion: their situations are different than mine. I can do the best with what I have, but I can't waste energy comparing my life to another's, even though it is so tempting. I can only do the best with what I have.

  20. it's like you scooped out my brain and put it on your blog. seriously. i often end up lying in bed at night wondering where my day went. i'm so busy busy busy all day but what do i have to show for it other than a stacked dishwasher and a pile of laundry waiting to be folded and put away. maybe those people with chickens and homeschools secretly have really dirty houses? somethings got to give right? ;)