When I was working through what it meant for me to be authentic, I realised that I like my life easy and simple. Not for me complicated anything. Simple days mapped into my diary, easy dinners requiring the least number of ingredients and minimum of effort, lazy weekends without complicated arrangements to be here, there and everywhere.
Throwing parties throws me into paroxysms of anxiety and despair, road trips turn me into mumzilla and multiple errands, pick ups and drop offs make me a nervous wreck.
My parents have always called me lazy. And so I’ve grown up with this, not very positive, adjective, in my head, but the reality is, that due to my anxious tendencies, I like and need to keep things simple. If I have a stack of appointments in my diary, I prefer them all to be at my computer. If I have to come and go multiple times a day, I get stressed.
My boys only participate in one after school activity – Cubs and Scouts. Any more and the pick ups and drop offs would drive me insane.
I only leave the house if I absolutely have to and try to combine several errands into the one outing.
Our weekends are lazy. We sleep in late, have a late breakfast, stay in our PJs as long as we can and occasionally we might go out in the afternoon, either out to lunch, or to play in the park, or go grocery shopping.
When we do something out of the ordinary, it becomes a big adventure, but even then I like to keep it simple. On last year’s trip to Lake Mountain, I took some snacks, but we had lunch at the mountain cafe, rather than prepare a complicated lunch to take with us. I did have emergency sandwiches, but they ended up as the next day’s lunches. We stayed at a hotel with a restaurant, rather then self-contained accommodation – minimal stress.
Now that I’ve been working for a few months, life has become a little more complicated and as a result I am way more stressed and tired at the end of a day, than any “normal” person would be, even though I only work 15 hours a week.
When I have to add other things to the mix on a work day, like work for a client, an after school activity or appointment, then you can be sure that we’ll be eating at Macca’s or having spaghetti on toast for dinner.
I remember fondly (not really) being able to work 8-9 hour days (before kids) then come home and go out to the movies, or cook a proper dinner from scratch. I also remember that I was extremely stressed in those days. I hated my job and found little meaning in life. I found joy in going to the cinema and theatre, travelling on weekends and holidays and socialising with friends.
These days, I still do that sometimes. I come home after a 5 hour day, do some work for a client, pick up the boys from school, cook dinner and then go out to a networking or social function, while a babysitter puts the boys to bed. But you can be sure that if next day is a home day, I will most likely spend it in bed or watching TV. And this might only happen once a month, or once every two months, while in the past it would be a several times a week occurrence.
Having children definitely adds more stress and anxiety to life, but it’s a stress with meaning. I don’t rail against parenthood (well not as often), as much as I railed against my meaningless career. I don’t wake up physically sick with dread at the prospect of another day at the office. My days and weeks contain a good mix of the musts, the needs and the wants.
I take it easy where I can, so I can cope with the stress when I have to. It’s my quid pro quo. I build up my coping reservoir before I can spend it. If I try to spend it before it’s full, I mostly end up with a migraine or a mini-breakdown. Neither of which is really much fun.
It’s taken me several decades to understand that my “laziness” is simply self-care. I need plenty of down time and a simple life to cope with the responsibilities of a working solo parent, living with depression and anxiety. It’s me, doing the best I can. It’s me, being authentic.