The Undone Won’t Undo Me

Christina Caro honestly

2015-04-22.the-undone-won't-undo-me
It’s just shy of 5:30, and I’m exhausted. A month-long string of teething, sickness and travel has left my one-year-old son having forgotten how to sleep through the night. Again.

I’m tired of not sleeping. I’m tired that being my excuse for why I can’t seem to make forward progress in my writing or fitness goals. So this year, I’m thinking about resolutions.

My son is an utter delight; he seems lit from within. But adjusting to being a family of five hasn’t been easy. With this child, the dynamics have shifted. I have trouble determining the best use of my time. In found pockets of time, I dither between: shower or laundry, clean the toilet or cook dinner, rest or work out, sit with my child or busy myself, run an errand or savor the quiet at home. Often I find myself at 6:00 PM, somewhat miraculously, with dinner ready, homework done and — if I’m lucky — the living room floor picked up, but feeling like that’s it.

When this happens, I remind myself — I fed five people three wholesome meals that day. As a result, I’ve usually swept the kitchen floor twice. I’ve probably read stories and sung songs and folded tiny clothing and signed reading logs and gotten two children where they need to be while toting a third along, and wiped counters and spoken to friends. I’ve probably done many small, good things. This is fine, because that’s what my life is right now — a collection of small, good things. I don’t necessarily yearn for bigger things most days. I just want to know I’m choosing the best of the choices I’m given so I might be at peace when I see all that didn’t get done.

I’m starting before I feel ready, before I’m rested, before I know the greater purpose. This year I’m working on mustering courage to choose the important over the urgent.

It’s why I can get up today, after a night of interrupted sleep, and brew coffee and sit in my living room and write in the quiet, even though piles of clothes litter the floor in front of me, waiting to be donated. I will get to them.

I resolve not to let the undone define or undo me.

Tonight, if I’m doing it right, this will look like going to swim laps once the kids are down, even though it’s cold out and the couch calls to me. It might look like building Legos with my daughter amid a playroom upended. It might look like abandoning the vegetables I’m chopping to kiss my husband when he walks in the door. It might look like leaving a sink full of dirty dishes to go have coffee with a struggling friend (or letting a friend in for coffee when I have a sink full of dirty dishes, and I am the one who is struggling). As I face weaning the first baby I have successfully nursed to his first birthday, it might mean sitting in his room with him at my breast longer than I really need to, even as other tasks go unfinished

There will be countless times I feel like I’ve failed. There will always be something else I could be doing that might be more “productive.” But this is my stake in the ground. Even though I don’t know whether it will matter, and I’m not sure I’ll stick with it. Even though I’m not sure if anything will come of it. This feels important to me, and I’m doing it.

I hope you’ll join me; be brave and try that thing you’ve been meaning to, or make that change you’ve been putting off. Even if it feels too big or too small. Even if you’ve already failed a hundred times. Even if you’re afraid you’ll fail again. Even if no one will ever notice. Especially if countless other tasks call to you instead. Let’s choose to not to let the undone undo us.


Christina Caro’s writing also appears on Grace for Moms and on her blogSmarter Ardor. She attends a MOPS group in Virginia Beach, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their two daughters, ages 7 and 5, and their one-year-old son.

What undone (dirty dishes or laundry) most keeps you from trying something new?