I just finished an unpleasant task during which I aggressively ignored every piece of advice I have ever given my children about the completion of unpleasant tasks. I procrastinated. I complained endlessly to myself. I resisted strongly, and put the task off for days — weeks — before I finally did what I always tell them to do, which is to just do it for crying out loud; because doing a thing, however horrid, is always less horrid than the dread, fear and loathing involved in putting it off. You’re making it worse, I tell them. You’re wasting time — and more to the point, energy — which you could be using to get the damn thing DONE.
Well I did finally get my unpleasant task done, this morning, and I feel as if someone has just stepped off my chest and I can breathe again. I can do other things without feeling guilty, I can enjoy the rest of the day; who cares if it’s gray and raining and all my joints hurt. My heart and head feel clear for the first time in six weeks.
I’m sure I would feel this good right now even if I didn’t have kids. But the contrast between what I say and what I do is so stark sometimes, and I wonder if I would notice if I weren’t so aware that these two other people are always watching me. Well actually, they’re not watching so much any more, since they’ve mostly grown up and don’t live here much of the time. But still.
This isn’t the only area in which I have learned from my children. Both of them can write, big time. I think they can probably write anything they put their minds to; my older son specializes in musical theater music, lyrics and books, and wickedly funny social media posts. The younger one so far is specializing in academic essays, dystopian fiction, and texts to his mother, which he cranks out like nobody’s business (good luck to me, trying to find something he sent me longer than an hour ago). And he’s also writing for his college paper, producing a column every Monday night. Every Monday night. No matter how much other work he has.
I can’t tell you how this inspires me. I am not a confident writer, but it occurred to me a couple of years ago that even if I doubt my own abilities, I have absolute faith in genetics. My biological children can both write; therefore the odds are pretty good that their mother can, too. Yes, okay: they also have a father who can write. But even so.
This has helped me more than I can say. So now, inspired by my younger son, I am making a commitment to meet a deadline of my own every Monday night. If he can do it, odds are so can I. And if I can follow my own advice about procrastination and resisting versus doing and skipping all the drama, I bet I can meet that commitment.