I run a tight shipwreck.
Why? Because my ship—once new—crashed on a beach years ago. But that broken ship suited me far better than anything well-kept or smoothly-run—I made it my own and it’s worked well for me. I patch it—make it pretty—and sometimes can even fool people into thinking it doesn’t constantly take on water. I survive far better in a messy, broken environment—one that inspires innovation and spontaneity—than I do in anything predictable. Yes, if I run anything even remotely successfully, it is a shipwreck.
What Five-Year Plan?
I don’t have a five-year plan—I never have. Booking a vacation a year away is a stretch for my impatient personality. We have owned four houses in our 14 (almost) years of marriage and this August will be the first time we have run out the five-year term on our mortgage. I’m 18 years and three kids deep into my relationship with my husband, yet it’s our expiring mortgage that makes me feel like I’ve finally made a long-term commitment.
There is little rhyme or reason to our daily life. Too many must-do things in our schedule make me squirrelly. I need freedom to change my mind and space to be spontaneous. Our home has no designated laundry day. We set-out to clean the bathrooms days after we notice they are dirty. Nobody makes their bed because I still wholeheartedly believe in my adolescent mantra of “I’m just going to crawl into it again later”. My kids know that requests for help or chores will come at them randomly throughout the day. There are no chore or reward charts. There is no schedule.
I’m the mom who hits up the drive-thru because I didn’t pack snacks. And when I do pack snacks they are almost always pre-packaged granola bars because my time-management skills are seriously lacking. All well-intended plans of cut up fruit and veggies go out the window when I’m inevitably running late.
School Kept Me Honest
But school. School was a constant. It was a piece of our day I relied on to keep me accountable. Without it, my unscheduled mentality ran rampant. When schools first closed, I panicked. Everyone around me was talking schedules and the importance of moving forward with their kids’ learning while I was over here thinking how awesome it was to be exploring the world in new and creative ways and how this freedom from school and societal norms could benefit humans as a whole. (And how I wouldn’t need to set my alarm at all for the foreseeable future). Was I completely wrong? Were my kids completely screwed over with their education now largely in my hands? I was frustrated with myself for not being good enough in this season of life.
I Am Good Enough
What I eventually came to understand was that the best way for us to get through this weird and strange time, is to do what keeps everyone sane—especially the one who is running the show. If I am functioning the best way I know how, everyone else does better—no matter how discombobulated our days may seem to others. We do what we can, when we can. And it serves us well.
I think my tendency to find inspiration in chaos and preference to look at life on a short-term basis is why I handle uncertainty without fear. I absolutely acknowledge that—in our current reality—this ease of life comes from a place of privilege. My husband is working, we have food on our table, I’m not struggling to find childcare or get my own work done with my children left to their own devices. Even so, this isn’t the first time my world has been interrupted and I think it’s proven that uncertainty does not rock my boat—my already broken and in constant need of repairs, boat.
Work With The Ship You’ve Got
I do not run a tight ship. I will never run a tight ship. Expecting that of myself will only result in misery—for me and everyone around me. My advice right now is to find your natural state and let your family exist within that. Don’t force yourself to be someone you are not. Work with the ship you’ve got—whether it’s fully intact or broken in pieces—and do what you can to maintain the health and wellness of your family.