When I was in college, someone said to me in a tone that implied I already knew, “you know, women are spaghetti, and men are waffles.” And I was all like, “huh?” She replied, “well, men can compartmentalize feelings and tasks like keeping syrup in particular squares in a waffle, whereas women are thinking about all their feelings and tasks at the same time. It’s more messy. Like spaghetti.”
Obviously, this is definitely an over-generalization [and perhaps a tad sexist?]; however, when it comes to Ryan and me this odd visual couldn’t be more true.
This is me pretty much every moment of the day:
For example, I’ll go to get a glass of water from the refrigerator, which will remind me we need to buy a new water filter, which will remind me I need to look at the budget, which will remind me I need to make a grocery list, which will remind me I need to read more on the effects of gluten, which will make me want some bread, which will remind me I haven’t made bread in a while, which will remind me how busy I am, which will bring to mind all of the tasks I have to do in my job, which will make me feel guilty that I am not present to my daughter, who is standing at my feet begging for a glass of water.
It seems like every single minute of my existence allllllll of these things [and about a 6,342,029 more] are hanging out in my thoughts at the same time.
I am so spaghetti. My mind is messy, cluttered, all over the place.
In my defense, I have a lot on my plate right now. In addition to being a full-time stay-at-home mom, I also write for a textbook company from home, a job which has a major deadline approaching in a few months. I am also in charge of Confirmation preparation at my parish. Although it is a volunteer position, the time it has entailed is more along the lines of a second part-time job.
In addition, Ryan has a ridiculous amount of school work this semester, on top of a full-time [and then some] job. His consuming schedule without doubt has a domino effect of stress on our household.
Please don’t confuse any of this for complaining. Truly. Ask anyone who has ever spoken to me: I complain many times a day…but this is not one of those instances. We know we are blessed beyond measure.
That said, my mind is freaking spaghetti.
Thus, in my prayer and thinking over the past few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that I need to be more like a waffle. [Man, this analogy is annoying...but it works.]
And so, here are some concrete and not-so-concrete ways I am trying to compartmentalize my life, so that I am not stressing about a multitude of things at one time. [I know you probably don't care that much about my particular circumstance, but maybe some of these things can help if your mind is spaghetti-ish.]
- Freezer meals. Y’all know that I love, absolutely love, to cook. I am that woman who genuinely looks forward to making dinner every day. However, I don’t have the luxury anymore of prepping dinner throughout the day and making something complicated for my family. It was just consuming too much of my thoughts. Therefore, a few weeks ago I made over 20 freezer meals to allow myself a couple days a week in which I don’t have to be thinking about dinner throughout the day. I felt like a 3rd trimester nesting woman when I put all the meals together. It gave me a little domestic rush.
- Babysitters. For my last big textbook deadline, my sister and my mom were available to watch Philomena on a regular basis. Plus, Ryan could give me a few hours at night when he got home from work. This time around, however, my family’s schedule is just more hectic, and Ryan needs every waking minute at home to do homework. So, I finally broke down and found a couple (amazing!) young ladies to come to my house a few hours each week to watch P while I work. I didn’t realize how much peace this would give me! Now when my week is going crazy, and I feel like I’m not getting anything done, I know I have a few hours two days a week that I *will* get to work. It has given more “mind freedom” than anything else I’ve figured out thus far. We added up the cost, and realized it was just a drop in the bucket for the amount of work I’ll be able to accomplish.
- Keeping internet time in check. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but software like self-control is an absolute must for me. I can fall down the internet hole so quickly and for so long it is creepy. One minute I’ll be looking up a recipe for ratatouille and somehow two hours later I’ll find myself researching the effects of shoe type on toddler development.
- Staying in the present. This is going to sound so corny that I am rolling my eyes at myself as I type this, but whatever. I’ve just been making small steps to truly be present in the moment. I know, I know…we’re all trying to do this. However, if my mind is going to be a waffle, I really need to make a concerted effort. This is probably the most difficult task for me. Heck, even as I wrote this blog post, I refreshed Facebook about 10 times, researched lasagna recipes, went upstairs to check on sleeping Philomena, read a few blogs, did my daily Craigslist troll, and chatted with a friend on the phone. But this needs to end. I really want to learn how to focus on one task at a time. Even if the moment involves watching a TV show to relax. I needn’t be writing emails to parents during my down time.
- Prayer. I think Mother Teresa said something once to her sisters like, if you do not have time to pray for an hour a day, then pray for two hours. The point being that if you are too busy to pray, then you are too busy. I know this…I know this…but I don’t really know this. You know? I usually just distract myself throughout the day to the point that my prayer becomes a desperate whisper at the end of the night. Not that God doesn’t care about that fledgling prayer, because He does, of course. However, *I* need Him at every. single. moment. And Christ’s presence is here…He is something happening in the now. But, I need to acknowledge, to confront this reality. If I have learned anything in my broken 32 years of life, it is this. If I truly want to be “present” in the moment, to be less distracted, then this present needs His presence. There, I said it.
Aaaand…this post was too long. [Forgive me?] Also, it made me hungry.