Monday, January 6, 2014

Routine Maintenance

My routine starts back up tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to it.

It surprises me to write that.  For so long, I didn't look forward to it.  Dread might be the better verb.  That was off and on for most of my life.  I never looked forward to the end of a school holiday.  When I entered the work force I looked forward to going back even less.

I'm looking forward to our routine now.  The last few weeks, with Matthew and I both off work, we three have slept late, gone to bed late, had more family movie nights, eaten more chocolate.  At nine in the morning there can be a fire in the fireplace and hot cocoa is almost always an option.  There's a lovely decadence to those kinds of days, when I realize I'm wearing my cozy weekend tee shirt on a Wednesday or that Dory's never changed out of her pajamas for the day.

But I'm peeking around corners now, looking for something simmering on the stove, the sounds of the washing machine, a stack of construction paper with capital "A" drawn in crayon.  I'm ready to give a fond farewell to all these little daily luxuries, to release them back to their proper place as weekend and holiday treats.

I like my routine.  I would not have said that a year ago.  Now I can.  I like the rhythm of our morning, a general idea of when we will eat breakfast, knowing we will eat well, that we will have a walk, that we will start homeschooling around the same time, have snack (and a break for myself), have free time, have lunch, do art, have quiet time, on and on to dinner and bedtime and starting it all up again.  I, mostly, like the dailyness of it.  

It took several hard and conscious (I might say overly conscious) choices to arrive at this present juncture.  And my life is nowhere near a life of leisure.  We cook three meals a day around here, which requires all the preparation and clean-up it suggests.  We drive old cars, we do all our own cleaning (and that, sad to say, is done sparingly), we layer up and run the heat low even in the coldest season, and we accept the generosity of family, which comes in straightforward and surprising ways.  Even writing that list though, I ask, are those sacrifices?  I mean, really?  So in some ways, I suppose I do have a life of leisure.

What matters to me is I wake up in the morning and I'm not daunted by my day.  I wake up, my brain revs its engine a few times on natter, like groceries, or schedules, or part-time work, and then I manage to settle it down long enough to think: "thank you."  Sometimes I have to run to the bathroom first, then climb back in bed and scramble for that blessing.  Yet it comes and it comes more and more easily. I know what it's like to wake up and dread the day, to count down the hours until it's over and I'm back in bed.  I think a few hard choices and good fortune took me from that boat (for now) and I am grateful for both every day.

It scares the pants off me, making decisions that seem to fly right in the face of normal or mainstream.  I am not doing enough, working hard enough, proving myself, earning enough.  Occasionally these thoughts run rampant in my brain.  A few times a week, I climb the mental Cliffs on Insanity, built of worry, fear and anxiety and then I talk myself back down off them.  If I'm lucky, there's a friend to coax me down.  Still, that's an improvement for me.  It used to be a few times a week.

Now I'm glad we get along as well as we do everyday.  I'm glad that continuing to choose off-the-beaten-path continues to provide a generally happy day to day life.  Mostly, and I think I've written this before, I'm glad to be doing something I chose.  How much more satisfying to worry over a down payment while enjoying the life I create moment-by-moment than to muck about in a life I flung myself into, unable to even notice the house around me.  

Mostly, I like going off routine for a while so I can enjoy returning.  I like the fact that I felt topsy-turvy and a little upside down from so few rules, so few expectations.  I like that I feel right-side-up-again knowing that I'm returning to a rhythm of my own writing.