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Things to Neglect
A short list of stuff to stop doing
Several years ago I began make a More/Less List for the new year, rather than recycling last year’s unresolved resolutions. The list is a contrasting two-column account of things to do more of and things to do less of. More whole foods/less sugar. More printed photos/less photo backlog. More books/less social media.
The gurus tell me those kinds of lists are really just vague resolutions, missing any measurable achievement because of their lack of specificity. They’re right but I didn’t care/still don’t care. I am learning me, and the me I am today is just not that into gurus and numbers and measurements.
That’s not completely true/false. I guess the most true thing about me today is that I am more interested in managing my energy than monitoring outcomes. I don’t have energy to obsess. I’d love to please all the gurus and accomplish all the things, but if I only have so much energy to give in a day, my goal is to prioritize the energy towards the things I want more of, and neglect the rest.
Here are a few things I’ve chosen to neglect lately:
Keeping up on laundry. I used to want to see the bottom of the dirty laundry basket once a week; now, I want to see the bottom of the clean laundry basket, just once. That means one day a week I fold whatever laundry has been washed.
Cooking from scratch. We’ve eaten more Costco frozen meals than I ever imagined we would this year. More this year than in the previous 20 years, probably. I don’t get home till after 7:30 most nights and we just need to eat, so this has been the solution.
Hosting people. This makes me the most sad. We’ve had two separate overnight guests in the last month that I didn’t even see when they were here—them, arriving late at night; me, leaving early the next morning. And I can’t remember the last time we had dinner guests other than our kids and their spouses. The part I’m choosing is to still make space for our friends, to not turn away anyone passing through—even if I can’t be there.
Vacuuming. All hail the glory of Roomba, my servant-girl. I don’t remember the last time I drug out the regular vacuum and attacked the corners and beneath the furniture.
“But this is a season,” I’m tired of saying.
I began writing this as a list of confessions, and I thought it might become a list of permissions for us as we prioritize—sort of a stick it to the man post about the unnecessary burdens placed on all of us. We don’t have to do everything; or, at least, I’m not doing everything and everything is just fine. I thought writing about this would help ease the guilt I feel over things I’ve neglected.
Literal minutes after writing the bullet point about laundry, Tim came to me with some facts: every pair of jeans he owns were in the bottom of the dirty laundry basket (the one I haven’t seen for…months?), and it’s too cold for shorts anymore. He found it interesting that it was his laundry that seemed most neglected; that I seemed to be clothed just fine while his laundry slumped to the bottom of the pile; that we only have laundry for the two of us these days and still, the dirty laundry is always full.
Reader, he is not wrong.
I went for a walk after our conversation—part of my plan for the day and not in any way a coping mechanism for married tension1. Walking is something I have inadvertently neglected the past few months, and my dog is a pathetic, neurotic, paper-chewing mess when this continues to happen. Plus, I like to walk after I write. It helps me process.
The word essay means to try. When I write an essay, I am trying to learn something, understand, work a problem out, and get perspective. When I write and then walk, I process my thoughts even further and I learn even more.
Here’s what I learned on my post-writing-walk:
Doing laundry is not a gender specific chore, but for all our married life it has been my responsibility. I am just fine with this and I have zero resentment about it. Because it is my responsibly, I feel bad when Tim washes a load of his own jeans, which he did after our conversation. That’s just how I am.
I can look back on the last week and see signs of a laundry-argument in the works. I just didn’t pick up on the cues early enough.
And the most important thing: choosing things to neglect for certain periods of time is all well and good, but one must communicate that choice with those whom it will affect. Then a good plan can be made. Tim would not have minded one bit if I had said hey, I’m not going to be on top of the laundry for a few months so please pile your laundry on the floor in front of the washer, so I can’t miss it, or something like that. There are solutions to things we talk about, but a problem ignored is a problem magnified.
Here’s a better list of things to neglect:
Instagram. I deleted it from my phone and download it one day a week.
Dinner decisions. I am making a super simple dinner menu, which admittedly includes a lot of tacos but Tim and Ethan love tacos, so it’s fine. We need to stop the frozen dinners.
Work texts during writing. Do Not Disturb. Nothing is burning down, and if it is, I can’t help anyways.
Town trips. I shop twice a week for the deli, plus banking and other errands, and I’m really trying to find a once-a-week solution that involves more deliveries to our rural business.
Thinking vs. doing. When I’m home, I’m using the timer and doing the quick things that bring peace. Like a load of laundry.
Poor communication. Enough said point taken thanks.
I did fold a load of laundry before my walk, just FYI.