Adapting the Talk.

Adapting the Talk.

I recently took a trip which was to be exactly what I know I needed: time to recharge, time to think about, talk about and be inspired by writing and creativity, and time to work on projects that are important to me. I thought I returned home motivated and ready to take on the world.

But returning home, in reality, meant jumping back into a world where creativity and personal projects get put on the back burner. Things like a sink full of dishes, a hamper full of laundry and a day job that pays the bills all get in the way of doing what I actually love to do. Returning home meant being faced with new challenges and new drains on my time. How I feel about the challenges is irrelevant. Sometimes you just have to do the things you don’t want to do.

When I was a kid, just like any other, I didn’t want to do anything that didn’t immediately please me. “Tough shit,” my mother would say. “If you’d have just done it instead of complaining about it, you’d have been done by now.” Homework, a chore, grocery shopping or errands, it didn’t matter, this was my mother’s response.

When her health declined so much so that her responsibilities became unmanageable for her and therefore became mine, her tough-shit-just-do-it attitude didn’t wane. She just mixed up the words. 

“Sometimes shit happens, ‘Chelle.”

So I do my chores. I’d be lying if I said I did them with little complaint but they get done. I do them first so that they will be done, the implication of my mother’s words of wisdom having lead me to believe that once the chores are out of the way the fun times can begin. That may have been true at one point, but it certainly isn’t true now.

By the time the chores are done for the morning it’s time for work and then when work is done it’s time for chores in the evening and when those chores are done it’s time for sleeping. But sleeping is just for me and for no one else and it’s not a job someone pays me to do so it’s supposed to count as leisure time, right? And when I get done with sleeping: chores.

And I know that this is the same for every working mother. There are often more obligations than there are hours in the day. I know for some it’s easier and for many more it’s harder but I don’t think it actually helps any of us to know this since knowing we all have to do the dishes and fold the laundry doesn’t actually get the dishes done or the laundry folded.

What I want to know is how they all manage their dreams? We obviously can’t have it all as we may have been told, or at least not all at once. Do I need to just wait and my time will come or is that just another lie I tell myself so I keep getting up to do the dishes?

My mother’s dreams died while she sat on her couch. If I could tell her now that I have dreams, would she adapt her tough shit talk once again?

32 Responses to “Adapting the Talk.”

  1. outlawmama says:

    I just returned to full-time work and I’m struggling with the chores, and time and oh my god, now I have to cook dinner? It’s not easy.

  2. tough shit is a little tough but i guess it is what it is. it’s not easy keeping those dreams alive when the only thing burning is dinner. but you’ve always got to find that little bit for you – even if it’s 15 minutes.

    • My time for me is between 5 and 6 am (assuming my kid doesn’t get up early). So I get some time, but I have to take it away from sleeping. It’s unfortunately not the best time for me creatively speaking, but I guess I have to just be glad I have that right now.

  3. Stacie says:

    I’m pulling for you to make your dreams come true! The chores won’t go away, ever, but if you get your memoir done, that will be awesome. And I will have another excuse to to put of my chores.

    • I know the chores and obligations don’t go away but that’s a really bitter pill to swallow sometimes. Hour by hour I’m chipping away at the memoir. I’ll finish it eventually, just not in the time frame I’m hoping for.

  4. Candice says:

    Man, I hear you on this and I have no answer. The obvious one is ask for help (it’s what I read ALL THE DAMN TIME) but that’s not fair because that’s not easy. I could ask for help every day and I’d still have to keep asking every day. I want the kind of help I don’t have to keep asking for – i.e. I want someone to just DO some of the stuff.

    So, yeah, no answer. Some days I actually miss being unemployed because of how easy it was to get it all done… but you know, there’s that whole needing an income thing.

  5. katybrandes says:

    Our posts this week parallel each other so much! I make pb&j sandwiches for dinner, run the kid to soccer/basketball/football practice/games, and re-use a bath towel because the laundry remains done. Hell with anyone who wants to judge. Sometimes I have to lose some sleep to write, but I just keep going and know you can, too!
    We’ll get there. We’ll just be really tired at times. :)

    • I’m not even worried about what anyone else thinks. I just know that if I don’t keep up on things I have a tendency to let them get out of control. Most of my writing is done at the expense of sleep. Everything else is non-negotiable!

  6. Maybe it’s time to tell some of the chores “tough shit” just for a little while. Not long enough for the health department to come, though.

    • There are plenty of things that I leave longer than I’d like, but some things just can’t wait (this kid of mine keeps wanting to eat every single day!). There is just no way to do it all (or do it all well or do it all consistently). This is life, I guess.

  7. Sam Merel says:

    It’s so hard, this thing we do. This working full time and having a dream. Because life gets in the way and there are dishes and laundry and bathrooms that need cleaning, and sleep must be had, and then it’s the entire day. I think maybe the trick is to take just a little time for yourself, even if it’s just half an hour, to write and to work on this dream, because the dream isn’t going anywhere, and baby steps will still get us there.

    • You’re absolutely right. This is why I get up early to write. I am chipping away and the baby steps are working. But I think after the trip I was so excited to really get into it and I couldn’t. I was so tired from travel I couldn’t get up early to write and all day every day for the week after I was back was spent working the day job and taking care of the house and my family. Everything I wanted to do was put on hold when ALL I wanted to do was write and it was the one thing I had absolutely no time for. It’s so disheartening to have those weeks. I’m slowly getting back to my 5am routine so perhaps I’ll feel better about everything when I see progress again.

  8. want2bwriter says:

    Chores always get in the way of fun. It’s like kryptonite to fun; it’s evil nemesis. Hopefully you can find some balance.

  9. oh god. I say similar things to my kids now. “If you had just [random daily thing] when I first asked you to do it, you could be playing now…” and whatnot.

    I’m a master corner cutter. PB&J for dinner is FINE. Quilt flopped onto the bed is FINE. Using a wet paper towel to wipe up the spill and dust and hair and crumbs from the floor is FINE. Until, of course, it’s not.

  10. Michelle – I am crying reading this, especially: “What I want to know is how they all manage their dreams?” Sometimes I tick off the years left, T minus 6 until graduation, like by magic the work will be done then, curled up in guilt that I am wishing their childhoods away so that my adulthood can begin.

    • I’m going to start ticking off the years to graduation instead of the years to retirement because thinking about retirement is about the most depressing thing I can do. Seriously though, I hope some day our children understand that their mothers dreamed big and how important that was (is) for us. Until then, we are just going to have to keep reminding each other that we can do this.

  11. ywcourtenay says:

    I see no end in sight for the chores. The twins are only 3.5, so I have a loooooong way to go. I’ll be 56 when they graduate from high school. Is that too late to dream?

    • I try to tell myself that Nathan will handle some of these chores as he gets older so that I’m not just waiting until he’s off to college to enjoy some downtime but I wonder if I’ll just end up spending the time nagging him to do the chores I don’t want to do anymore.

      I want to think there is plenty of time for us now and at 56. I have to or I don’t think I’ll make it.

  12. That last paragraph. That’s all I can say.

  13. Andrea says:

    ” “If you’d have just done it instead of complaining about it, you’d have been done by now.” Totally guilty of saying this to my boys.

    I left my career three years ago and I can tell you it still doesn’t seem any easier to follow my dreams. I thought I would have all this time. I just filled it up with other stuff. I don’t know if it’s something we moms have pre-wired in us, but my day is filled with the constant of doing things for others. When I finally stop moving, there is often nothing left for me. But I feel like everyone is depending on me for their survival…and God forbid I let them down. I’d rather let myself down than anyone else…ugh, but doesn’t that seem messed up?

  14. janeydoe57 says:

    I think I must have heard “tough shit” while growing up though I have no real memory of it. One family anecdote is that I said “tough shit” to my mom once. Just once. :)

    @ywcourtenay ~ 56 is NOT too late to dream Sweetie. I’m almost 58 and I just started my blog earlier this year. Plus I’m hoping like hell to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. 😀

  15. Jenny Poore says:

    lovely and sad and real and true. life is tough shit a whole lot of the time. this is a really nice read, thank you!

  16. OMG yes. Sometimes I feel like we all need signs in our houses that say “Parenthood: Where Dreams Go To Die” but I know it’s not exactly that dire. Not exactly. But oh man does it ever feel that way.

    I’m glad you got some time away. You definitely earned it. I hope that you get some more time for you and your dreams soon, because I am a selfish bastard and your writing dreams line up with my reader dreams. :)

    Sending you mamahood solidarity. Wish I could send you something actually useful, but I send what I can. <3

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