How’s this for original: it’s Friday, and I am tired.
I work too much. It’s wired into my personality, according to the Enneagram. Type 3’s are achievers and obsessed with performance. Do you know how exhausting it is to perform 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year? I know what you’re thinking: Ashlee, you don’t perform in your sleep, but you’re wrong because I fall asleep thinking about all the work I need to do the following day, the e-mails I need to respond to, the boxes I need to check off my list. Even in my dreams, I am hustling. It’s disgusting.
“There’s an ant on the fwoor,” Carson informs me while I type this.
He’s concerned it’s going to crawl on his puzzle. I don’t know why there are so many ants in this house. There are at least five or six in every room at any given time. Sometimes I vacuum them up. Sometimes I spray Raid, which the pros have repeatedly told me not to do. I don’t care. It works.
He’s smooshing the ant with his foot now, which is just what I need: dead ants on the bottom of toddler socks in the washing machine. Perfect.
Carson’s preschool sent an evaluation home yesterday, sort of like a report card for three-year-olds. It named him a “good listener” which gave me a good laugh. He is actually a terrible listener, one of the worst listeners I know. He has his moments, though. Last night we got frozen yogurt and he called his marshmallows mushrooms. I typed that into a note in my phone because I didn’t want to forget to write it in his journal.
I have a journal for both kids that I haven’t written in this year. I don’t even know where they are, probably in a box somewhere. Our garage is full of boxes. Our front bedroom is also full of boxes—you cannot even walk in there. I have no idea when we’ll unpack them. We need to organize the closet first but there’s wallpaper in the closet and the thought of stripping that makes me want to cry. The bathroom wallpaper nearly did me in. I can still smell the glue. My arms hurt just thinking about it.
I wish I knew where those journals were. I always write the kids a letter on their birthday and Everett’s 6th birthday has come and gone without a letter. I always make them a birthday video, too, but I didn’t do that either. I always make them a photo book, but I didn’t do that either. At any given time, I can give you a list of 42 things I haven’t done. He had a good birthday, with cake and friends and a bounce house in the backyard. But all I think about is the unwritten letter, the unpublished photo book, and the unfinished birthday video. It’s wired into my personality, according to the Enneagram.
I’m reading The Road Back To You and in the chapter about Threes, it says, “Threes grow up believing the world only values people for what they do rather than who they are.”
I did grow up believing that. It’s hard to unlearn things at age 32.
My heart is racing this morning. I’ve had too much coffee. Two cups in forty minutes to be exact. I didn’t need the second cup, but I drank it for comfort. I ate the banana bread for comfort, too. It’s Friday and I’m not supposed to work on Fridays. On Fridays I am supposed to allow myself two cups of coffee and a slice of banana bread and a Netflix show and an hour of reading in the backyard.
I’m not supposed to work on Fridays.
I have worked every Friday since February.
Running your own business feels like a trap sometimes. I don’t know how else to explain the dichotomy of having the ultimate freedom in your work and also feeling enslaved by it at the same time.
It’s been more than four years since I’ve taken a break. I remember the day after I had Carson, I sat in my hospital bed editing an essay. The worst part of that is: I didn’t think it was weird. I had a one-day-old baby in a rollaway crib next to me while I typed, my body still bleeding. I did not take a maternity leave. Last summer my husband and I traveled to Nicaragua for our ten-year wedding anniversary and I still checked e-mail twice a day. Not because I thought anything urgent would come through one of the four inboxes, but more so because I didn’t want to have to play catch-up when I got home.
I recently calculated how many hours I work each month and how much I pay myself.
I make $4 an hour.
I’ve never been in this for the money but now that we have a mortgage and ants and a broken lawnmower and an oven that burns everything I put in it, I’ve been thinking more about the fact that I make $4 an hour.
I’ve been thinking more about the push and pull, the tension to grow grow grow and slow slow slow. My Threeness tells me to kick it up a notch, that I’m right on the brink of making it, and by making it I mean paying myself more than $4 an hour. My enlightened Threeness tells me to par down, to simplify, to stop killing myself, to believe I am loved for who I am and not for what I produce.
Here’s a confession: sometimes I feel like the world’s biggest hypocrite for running an online community for mothers while ignoring my children to do it.
Here’s another confession: I started this work because I loved to write and I never write anymore.
Running the business of writing about motherhood takes up 90% of my creative time and energy. If I am lucky, I can muster up writing in the 10% that is left over.
I often feel bitter about that.
I want to write more here, on my personal blog, but who has the time? I have a stack of seven books on my nightstand begging to be read. Good writers are good readers. I believe this. I am no longer a good reader so I am no longer a good writer. Maybe I never was one to begin with. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to end a sentence with the word with. There I go again.
Here's another confession: I let Carson play on the iPad for thirty minutes and kill ants with his feet so I could write this.
Writing this did not feel like work, which is good because I am not supposed to work on Fridays.
We all need to hear we are loved for who we are, but Threes need to hear it until the day comes when they look in the mirror and see not an image so much as the reflection of a son or daughter of God. The healing message for Threes is “You are loved just for who you are.” Angels sing when this message penetrates a Three’s heart.
- The Road Back To You