Last night, I was dragging our overflowing hamper through the kitchen and into the laundry room, trying not to curse at the rogue sock that tumbled off the top and onto the tile floor.
“Ughhhh, come on!” I let out an exasperated sigh.
My husband was sitting at the kitchen counter. He hopped off his stool and threw the sock back onto the top of the pile. “Don’t worry about it! It’s 9:45 at night. All you need to do is go sit down on that couch—,” he said as he dragged the hamper toward the washing machine.
Smiling, I let out half an exhale before he finished his sentence. “—it’ll still be there in the morning!” he said with a level of encouragement only matched by a summer camp counselor.
I sharply sucked that exhale so far back up into my nose it was audible. I held my breath, pupils dilating, eyes widening, jaw clenching. I stared at him, blinking rapidly—for dramatic effect, of course.
To be fair, my husband is the absolute best human being I know. He’s an incredible husband and father, works ridiculously hard, does his fair share around the house, and never complains about anything. I often joke that he’s basically a saint. But as Howie Day’s 2003 hit single “Collide” says, “Even the best fall down sometimes.”
I mean, I get it. An hour prior, I had texted my husband asking him to come home early from the farm so we could spend some time together (aka watch the season finale of The Great British Baking Show). And he did, no questions asked. And then he laid out our favorite blanket and queued up the show while I continued to tick boxes off my to-do list.
It’ll still be there in the morning.
I know he meant well. He was just trying to draw a line where I couldn’t because the idea of compartmentalizing isn’t a concept my mind can even entertain. I also know this isn’t a novel issue for moms because it’s practically our way of life. We’re in a constant state of multitasking, anticipating needs, checking off boxes, and just doing.
I’ve been living life via checkboxes for as long as I can remember: Go to college, start a career, get married, buy a house, have a baby, have another baby, etc. At 29, all of those boxes were checked off, and so, I entered my 30s checklist-less. There were no big plans, no trying to get to the next box—just an invitation to be, and it was unsettling. I’ve never considered what life would be like after those boxes had been checked off. I’m actually convinced I don’t know how to live life without checkboxes, on any scale, big or small.
But something I’ve come to realize during the soul-search that has been my early 30s is that it’s not about the doing, it’s about the being.
Of course, we have responsibilities as spouses and parents, and I’m not saying to just throw it all out the window—but I think it’s OK to give yourself permission to just be.
To be the wife outside the checklist. To be the mom apart from all the to-dos. To just take it all in.
Right now, the dishes will never be done-done. The laundry will never be folded for good. The house will never be completely organized or even clean for that matter. It’ll still be there in the morning.
And I thank God for that.
As writer Whitney Ballard thoughtfully asked, “Do you ever sit back and think I am living the life I once wanted so bad?”
If I’m being honest, I rarely—if ever—do because I’m too busy doing.
This life I’m living? It was once an elusive checklist born from the prayers I had tucked deep inside the pockets of my heart. A list of dreams too vulnerable for paper, so there would be no record if they didn’t materialize. Those checkboxes are now so much more than ticks on a to-do list, they’re an incredible life of unfathomable love—and I’m so thankful it’ll all still be there in the morning.