This is what I had for dinner tonight: most of a bag of Goldfish, two smooshed granola bars from God knows when, Ritz crackers, a weird carmel sucker that nearly pulled my teeth right out, and some Sugar Babies candy. I didn’t even know those existed. My daughter’s offering was only slightly better: some Lil Smokies, the few Goldfish she managed to wrestle out of my hand (which she dipped in ketchup, by the way), and some cauliflower.
Apparently, this is weird. While I was preparing the aforementioned feast, my dad called to chat. After inquiring about my dinner plans, my dad’s response was a thinly disguised, though most incredibly loving version of “What the hell?” there could possibly be. His reaction to my gourmet meal du jour triggered a momentary reaction in my mind. I had thought my resourcefulness regarding my lack of grocery shopping for two weeks was clever. It seemed pretty genius to me.
Shortly after, my boyfriend called.
Me, answering: “Hello?”
Him: “Hey babe -”
Me, cutting him off: “Hey! Can I tell you what I want my engagement ring to look like?”
Him: “So you’ve accomplished nothing tonight, have you?”
You know it’s bad when someone who lives 2 ½ hours away can hear the level of trainwreck in your life. No, I haven’t accomplished anything tonight, unless doing the dishes that were sitting in the sink for a good week or so deserves any type of recognition. My laundry isn’t done, my house is a mess, I’ve consumed only candy today so Lord knows I’m about to fall asleep on the couch any given moment, and it’s unlikely that my hair will be reunited with shampoo in the next month or two.
C’est la vie.
I used to be a work all-nighter. I’d stay at school until the principal threatened to charge me my own electric bill, at which point I’d pack up my stacks of papers and ideas only to reopen them again the second I got home. I worked on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Arbor Day, Flag Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Just when I thought I couldn’t work anymore, I’d think of a brand new way to organize all my paperclips into a practical, yet visually appealing way, or I’d decide I needed to relabel every single document I’ve ever written in the last 15 years of my life, and it always had to happen right now. After all, procrastination is for fools, someone somewhere’s probably said.
Well, psh I say to you. Cleaning is for fools. Working until you mistake your pencil for an extra appendage is for fools. Sacrificing all of the time that could be dedicated to doing something you love for completing menial tasks you hate is downright nonsensical. It’s time for us all to break out of that trap.
I hereby declare I’m starting with cleaning. I have never been a sparkly clean person, so don’t misunderstand me. I’ve never really spent a whole lot of time sprucing up. What I have done, though, is spent a lot of time stressing about my not cleaning, and that ends here and now. I’m going to wait to clean up from dinner until after my daughter is in bed. If I don’t get to it that night, it’ll still be there in the morning. And the next. And the next.
Those papers on my desk? Stack em up, baby. I’ll get to them when I can, and if I don’t, I can always pretend like I never got them. Er. Kidding. Kinda.
These are the goddamn formative years of our lives, people! Whether you’re 2, 12, or 92, these are the years that matter! All these little moments we watch slip by? These are the moments that count. Every fleeting nanosecond has the potential to be filled with something special. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had very few special moments sweeping the Cheerio dust off my floor.
It’s time to clean a little less and live a little more. No one has ever said as their dying wish, “I just wish I’d been able to clean out the bathroom closet one final time.” They’ve said, “Dammit, I wish I’d read more stories to Timmy,” or, “Man I wasted a lot of time polishing the underside of the tv cabinet. You know, you really can only see it when you’re laying on the ground sticking your head underneath it? And I didn’t actually do that all that much, come to think about it.”
Let’s spend more time together doing the things we freaking love. I’m trading my feeling-guilty-about-not-cleaning time for some extra time in pajamas reading a book or writing wild tangents encouraging others to abandon their responsibilities. I’ll get to the laundry when I good and well feel like it. Or when my six-year-old daughter has to start wearing my socks because hers are all dirty. Or vice versa. My couch pillows may be a little askew for a while. And my plastic bags may continue to monopolize all of the land beneath my sink. But I’ll trade that for the chance to read another story with my girl, or spend time with my boyfriend, or write an extra line or two.
We may eat Goldfish as a main course every now and again. Or maybe once a week. And I’m probably not going to be named Employee of the Year anytime soon. I may be behind on my dusting. But I think it’s worth the trade to take a little more time to live. Adults, let’s be a little less like robots. The last time I came over to your house, I didn’t check your carpet for lint. It’s okay if you didn’t vacuum. I bet I’ve held out longer. I’m too busy looking for chances to live.