The art of doing nothing

I used to be able to do nothing. It might be strange, but I could literally sit for a long time doing nothing. His dad would make fun of me because I would sit on the couch and stare at the plants on our balcony for hours. I also remember a time in high school when my sister caught me just sitting at my desk staring at the wall.

“What are you doing?” she asked with a laugh.

“Nothing.”

Those days only existed because I finished everything that needed to be done: chores were done, gifts were wrapped the day I bought them, food was cooked. Now that he’s here, not only is our time taken up by attending to him (e.g. playing, soothing, feeding) but we now have additional chores that we never had before, such as cleaning bottles and washing his laundry.

Now when given the opportunity to relax and do nothing, I can’t get myself to do it. There’s always something that could be cleaned or done, and since there isn’t much time in the day anymore, I end up using whatever free time I have doing chores instead of resting or doing something fun.

It’s ironic because there will always be tasks. Take last night, for instance. Did I need to puree and freeze his prunes? No—several bags of other frozen food are sitting in the freezer ready for him to eat. But my mind persisted, “It’ll eventually need to be done; might as well do it now when I have the time.” And then the cycle continues: days later when I have free time (since I didn’t have to puree his prunes), I’ll end up thinking of something else that could be done.

I even feel guilty when we’re both playing with him. In my mind I’m thinking, “Both of us don’t need to play with him. I should be doing X or Y.” And whatever happened to enjoying a drawn-out dinner? Since I love(d) cooking, I used relish every bite of what I just made. Now cooking has become another chore and I end up wolfing my food down.

I need to re-learn how to relax and be creative, even amid dirty dishes, a diaper bin that needs restocking and ingredients waiting to be cooked. My brother’s friend would bake a cake every month of her son’s birth date. When I first heard that, I just thought, “Who has the time?” but she probably made the time in order to stay sane. Writing this blog has helped; it’s not “needed” but taking the time to craft words for no other reason than to entertain myself feels pretty good. Maybe I can even bake some goodies; I have a pile of recipes in my “someday” folder that I’ve been putting off since they’re not dinner material.

Or maybe I’ll just go back to my couch and treat myself to doing absolutely nothing.

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