mothering bodies ~ adoption ~ alt.gender ~ parenting ~ work/life balance

Friday, February 7, 2014

Embracing Half-Assedness

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would not let too much time elapse between posts. In fact, I procrastinated for a good while before even starting it because I feared that I might sometimes lapse too long between posts. Then, after I started writing it, I decided that I would never go live with any post until it was perfect.

Did you see what I just did there? I defeated my blogging self before really even getting started: If I can't do it the right way, then I'm not even going to try! 

Behind Schedule! Failure? Or Not?
Photo: MLB
And, so, here I am with a three-month lapse between this and my last post and the writing has not been going well. And, honestly, I am barely editing this post before it goes live because--well, frankly, because I am a wife and working mother of small children who have been to school for barely twenty minutes since Christmas--what with all the inclement-weather school closures--and we have two dogs, and piano lessons, and karate, and…and so I've been pretty freaking busy and exhausted lately. 

Whew!

Did you duck before that snark dart shot out of the screen? If you weren't fast enough, I apologize for that little cheek scratch you're probably nursing right now. 

But I have to tell you: now that I have officially failed all of the rules I set up for this blog, I feel great! 

No, I'm not drunk, just liberated. Want to hear why?

I have always liked to think that I don't do anything half-assed. I go full-assed on everything I do. The downside of this orientation, however, is that it is all or nothing. For example, if I don't have the time to change into running gear, harness up my dogs, and run them for an hour around the lake, then I may not exercise at all. If I have not polished a post to perfection, then I will not post anything to my blog. If I ate a donut at the breakfast meeting, then I might eat more junk food later since I've already shot the day's nutrition. Not exercising, not writing, not eating healthily--all of these are threads in a larger self-defeating helix that, fortunately, spirals smack into the ground. Some might call it rock bottom. Regardless, it is hitting the floor, getting one's wind knocked out, and shaking off the disorientation to realize that current behavior patterns are unworkable. A paradigm change is required. 

I hit the floor yesterday when I had to tell a student that I had not yet finished commenting on her paper draft. I felt terrible because I had tried to finish commenting on all of the drafts but had simply run out of time. Did I mention that my children rarely go to school anymore? Instead, they're learning valuable life skills at home, like foraging for snacks in the pantry and fighting over which one gets the iPad with the iOS7 game apps and which one has to use the first-gen model. When I told my student that I'd have her comments later in the day, she replied, "No problem. In fact, would you just comment on the revision instead? I just got a great idea in workshop and want to incorporate it. Could you wait to read it until either tonight or tomorrow so I'll have time to finish it?" 

Could I? 

Halving Redemption
Photo: MLB
In that beige, windowless classroom near the end of my third class of the day, admitting defeat to a motivated student I had wanted to help and receiving, instead, redemption, I realized the value--nay, the necessity--of half-assedness. Why not be okay with finishing my draft comments tomorrow? For that matter, why not trot the dogs around the block for fifteen minutes when we haven't the time for a long run?  Why not post a shorter reflective epiphany piece and maintain this lovely connection with you all rather than nothing? Why not enjoy the rare pastry without self-recrimination? 

Parents, women, those in the "caring" professions, and the firstborn, especially, fear failure. We fear being considered half-assed--and fear can paralyze. Embracing half-assedness is liberating because it offers the permission to fail without failing. In fact, it is really just another way of doing things in moderation, but with edgier vernacular.