My son’s dad has been out of the country for the past three and half weeks. I typically have him half time, and while I couldn’t imagine being away from him for more than a night a few short years ago, I’ve become accustom to my rhythms. These rhythms that allow me to work, move my body, and then show up for my kids when they are present in my own time, and tbh, I felt the absence of them.
So naturally during this extended solo parenting spree, I experienced one of the most painful moments of my life when my impacted wisdom teeth finally let me know they’d had enough of my shit and were coming out NOW. The result ended up being 5 teeth being surgically removed.
When it rains, amiright?
The pain was on the scale of childbirth. All I could do those first few days was read, and oh, did I ever. Essentialism, Attached, BARE, and more kept my brain engaged while I dipped in and out of lucidity. As weak as my body felt, there was something stirring here that I had to pursue.
BTW I was 100% on the couch the whole time all of this was spinning in my head, so don’t @ me about self-care and taking a break to recover. Trust me, I did. I had literally no choice, otherwise, I never would have paused this long.
But thank god I had no choice.
The time to truly pause and think has been transformative.
*I had to ask for help.*
More than that, I had to rely on other people in ways that, frankly, I hate doing. I don’t call myself a single mom, because in many ways, I’m not. My kids’ dads are engaged and have them half-time. But because they are both effectively remarried, the burden of care is much more distributed there.
And y’all know the process of beginning to integrate a new human into a family – let alone a complex coparenting situation – is a long game. I’m lucky enough that it has gone as smoothly as it has. My boyfriend helped get my son to school and back after it happened. My mom took me to the appointment and back.
And I’ll have you know, I was SO excited to ride in a wheelchair out the door back home.
But after the meds wore off, I didn’t move from my couch for almost three days.
*I had to get more efficient.*
If you’ve known me long, you know the number of things I can get done in a day borders on obscene. My systems are the work of years of trying, testing, and truly dedicating myself to the pursuit of what I most care about.
But let’s go back to the part where when I’m so drugged up on my couch that I’m only having moments where the pain isn’t debilitating. All of the systems have gone out the window.
All that’s here is the present and managing the pain and that’s when it hits me that that is all that any of is is ever really doing.
The only difference this time (for me, as a person who is generally healthy) is the pain is on such a scale that it refuses to be ignored. I have less spoons than I tend to, and they are more precious to me as a result.
Suddenly, there’s only one question left. What really matters?
If I am this limited, I can only spend my focus where it counts, and it’s never been so clear to me that so much of what I do and how I spend my time does not.
I’m more than a little embarrassed by that. Who am I to waste my normally healthy body and my precious energy on tasks, ideas, people who are unequivocally not worth it?
When I see the people I admire, is this how they are choosing to show up? No. No, they’ve been here before, and now, this is the next phase for me.
*I have to choose.*
If I only have so much time, I cannot waste it. The people I love and the things I care about are worth far too much to me to keep doing things the way I’ve done them before.
Given that, what can I cut out, delegate, or stop doing? What will move the needle most? There are so many questions to answer now.
Content creation is one of my most valuable tasks at work, at home. How can I create better content faster? According to Strengthsfinder, my top skill is Input. Synthesizing a lot of concepts and curating them into something useful is my jam.
That said, I can hang out way too long in research mode. So what can I do? I can outsource the research part of that task to my assistant based on the post concept.
Then I can batch it, generating all of the related social media posts, come up with possible photography concepts to shoot later for Instagram, and oh, also, stop procrastinating on creating content because it’s not always easy to just sit down and produce The Damn Thing.
From the macro to the micro, there’s so much room for change and improvement, and it’s just. not. enough. to do it for the sake of being more productive. Who fucking cares?
You might hit inbox zero every day, but do you make it to your kid’s soccer practice? Sure, you had a viral Facebook post with a hot take, but have you written the book yet? (When was the last time you even worked on it, tbh?) Maybe you sold a thing, but was it something you were proud of?
I’m not trying to shame anyone. What I desperately want is for you to see just how precious this time we have is. The tiny, repeated choices we make add up to routines that will make or break us into who we do or don’t become.
If we aspire to be more productive, let it only ever be in pursuit of a life that leaves us tired and satisfied at the end of the day. To create a perfect-fit sized life dripping in sweetness, one that I can smile and say with quiet pride is mine – does anyone really need a Why story beyond that?
I don’t think they do. I know I don’t.