Once upon a time, I worked in a newsroom. There were long hours spent chronicling murders, arson, car crashes, and finding something to grab viewers by the throat when nothing else was happening.
To work 10 or 12 hours in a day wasn’t unheard of, and one of the favorite pastimes in the newsroom was to complain/brag about how many hours you had worked. Those who didn’t measure up in this contest were shunned. You got your work done in 8 hours? You took a lunch break? Oh! The horror!
You might think this verbal dick measuring is isolated to the newsroom, but you would be mistaken. Take a look at the people in your life. If you ask an old friend how they are doing, the answer is no longer, “Fine,” it is, “I’ve been busy.”
The weekend? The sanctity of this sacred space has been violated as well. Instead of barbecues and hikes through the park, they are filled with soccer/dance/chess club/Latin lessons, each educational activity mounding over you until you are buried at the bottom, a modern-day Enceladus, ready to blow.
Can you find refuge with your go-to mom friend during a playdate? Maybe. After football, but before the nativity play rehearsal. You’ll have to pack a lot into those two hours of fun. Instead of having the kids sit down for a snack, you can toss the goldfish into their mouths as they run by. I hope you have practiced your juice squirting skills. You’ll have to perfect your aim so no one dehydrates.
When everyone leaves and the dust settles, survey the damage around you. Think you’ll ever find all of the marbles for Hungry, Hungry, Hippos? Or have a day where you don’t step on a Barbie shoe? You want to be able to wash the Popsicle stains out of your kid’s shirt? I laugh in your general direction. Might as well set the house on fire and buy a new one because you won’t find the time to clean it all.
If you were to take poll of your nearest and dearest, it would reveal that no one thinks they have the time to hang out with Mr. Clean and they’d feel lucky to have the Febreze fairy can swoop in to make their living room smell less like a dog’s ass.
But, do you know the sad truth of it all? The whirling dervish of activity is all a facade. It covers up a larger, underlying issue of inadequacy. Many people wear their busy lives like a Badge of Honor. They are saying to the world, “If you’re busy, you are worthy. How can you be a bad parent when you and your kids are running around being busy all day?”
As a society, we can’t accept the fact that we can be idle yet still relevant. When you’re inert, you atrophy, right? There’s no way you or your kid will ever get ahead. And just think, if you’re all eating Doritos and playing Hi-Ho Cherry-o instead of building an Eiffel Tower out of wooden sticks, your kids will grow up to be serial killers who write a tell-all book about how their lives would have been better if they had only played violin as a child.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, just between us parents. What they’ll remember is that they were loved and that Doritos are awesome.
For the sake of your sanity, and that of your offspring, take a moment and do something that the other busy parents will judge you for: quit. Get lazy. Let them judge because they will be secretly jealous that they can’t leave the busy party early. True story.