On Planning not to Plan
This post originally appeared on our old blog, Born to be a Bride.
Josh and I had a big problem in DC. We spent the first several months there, fall going into winter, not really living. I believe the stuff that overwhelmed or stressed us out was so permeating, we stopped taking the time to enjoy life. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and the sun started to come out in April of last year that we looked around our disgusting apartment and decided to clean up, pack up, donate out, and start enjoying. We went to Maryland and had crabs on the coast. We visited the White House and took cheesy tourist photos. We even moved apartments (thinking we’d be staying there for a long time) and took up residence in Bethesda, MD which felt more like New York, in a way.
Now that our crazy life has transplanted us to New Jersey, it’s all about finding home again. We’re closer in proximity to our friends and family, but we’ve been living under a stack of boxes and trying to each get a rhythm with new work and life responsibilities. This past weekend was the first time since we’ve landed that we decided to ditch the housework and just live a little. And what fun it was!
On Friday night we walked down the street to grab fancy burgers and a cocktail at a cute little spot in our neighborhood. After putting the baby to bed, we cleaned up the apartment a little, watched some TV, and tucked into bed. We had a little disagreement that night, one that really hit home for me. I wanted to make a plan. I was upset that we haven’t gone a date. I was overwhelmed by my writing responsibilities and expressed that the stack of books Josh recently brought home for me won’t be touched anytime soon.
Despite a flexible, stay-at-home-mom-slash-freelance-writer setup, I realized recently that I don’t ever relax. The minute the baby’s asleep, it’s writing time. Or housework time. Time to unpack boxes, make hair bows for customers (for whom I am so grateful), time to wash dishes or submit an article or troll around online for more ways I can make money at home and stay here with Willow. But when she’s awake, I’m in full-on mom mode. We don’t watch cartoons or lie around. Maybe we should more. But we do verbal exercises, practice with motor skills. We have dance parties. We play with rings, blocks, things that crinkle and glow. I’m always on. And this time is precious. I don’t want to waste a minute. Sometimes I feel like to “relax” is to be wasteful. So that was our disagreement. He wants to feel like we’re “off” sometimes, too. And you know what? He won this one.
So, the next morning we woke up with the sun (thanks, Willow!). We made coffee and took showers, packed up the car, and headed to Brooklyn. We showed up on my baby brother’s doorstep with a belated birthday gift and a handmade card in hand. He was so surprised he broke his toe on his way to let us in (sorry, Noah!), but what a day it was. We happened to reach him on a rare day when he had nothing planned. We told him we had as much time as he did.
Together, we wandered. We went to brunch and soaked up the sun. Walked past our old favorite haunts. Bought a folding table. And some clipboards. Thought about ice cream but eschewed. Opted for iced coffees instead. I nursed Willow in an Atlantic Avenue Starbucks for about 45 minutes. We took lots of pictures and made lots of jokes. There was absolutely no plan in mind. It was one of the best days I’ve had in as long as I can remember.
After dropping Noah back at his place and getting in the car, Josh and I headed home and planned to make more non-plans. We grabbed some takeout, camped out on the living room floor, and let the baby get some much-needed rest. That night was all about pizza, Netflix (finally saw American Sniper and loved it! — first actual movie in months), and relaxing. What a concept!
On Sunday, we did some more wandering. But Josh had heard my cries, after all. Knowing our second bathroom (the “girls’ room”) was overrun with beauty products and absolutely chaotic, he spent an hour getting it set up and cleaning it for me while I played with Willow, unaware. I almost cried when he called me in to take a look. We spent the rest of the day in the no-plan zone, alternating nap time with vacuum time, getting the apartment as close to perfect as it can be without the few more pieces of furniture we need, and just hanging out. We stumbled on a street fair, ate corn cakes with mozzarella and walked them off. There were more iced coffees involved. We stopped along the way to actual read what was written on a 9/11 memorial. These are the things that Sundays are made for.
With barbecues, baby showers, and brunches booked up for the rest of the June weekends, it’s safe to say we have a pretty committed month ahead. But in the down time, I am going to continue to try really hard to carve out a bit of actual relaxation. I haven’t touched any of those books yet, but this Thursday’s afternoon nap is calling my name. I’m finding that if I plan some time that will remain unplanned, I can build in some success. Life is too short to not enjoy. Hard work is important. Dedicated learning play with children is important. But turning the mind off and letting life roll over you, even for a few hours a week, is so very important, too. Thankful to my sweet husband for teaching me this lesson again — I used to know it. I just needed to remember.