I’m busy, and I like it that way.
I think I work better under stress. Plus, when I don't have any free time, it's easier to avoid the anxiety of, well, thinking.
My mom, however, thinks my busy-ness is a major negative, and it's not just because I don't call her enough. Whenever I do, this is our usual conversation:
"I'm sorry, I don't have a daughter."
"Yes, you do. It's me."
"If I had a daughter, I'm sure she would have called me in the past two weeks."
It's either that or some sort of joke about how my funeral is already in the works, because being dead is the only acceptable excuse for ignoring my mother.
When we talk on the phone, I usually tell my mom how stressed I feel, and she always suggests eating better, working out, and getting more sleep.
"I don't have time," I explain. But my mom never believes me. She asks me to show her my schedule and prove I can't move things around. "This is important," she says.
The idea of letting my mom see how I spend my time makes me want to curl up in a ball and die. I worry she'll think I'm wasting my time, or find hidden, underutilized time in which she can assign me some sort of task. But I also know that letting someone else take the reins can be... liberating. When I was 18, my mom took my cell phone away from me because I wouldn't stop talking to my ex. I didn't admit it then, but I needed that help.
Who better the help me make necessary schedule changes to improve my happiness and health, if not my mom?
I decided to hand my schedule over to my mom for a week, so she could run my life the way she sees fit.
Aside from a few immovable events (work, a show, a rehearsal), I left my other afterwork activities available for slaughter.
Anything else, my mom could change as she saw fit.
After a mere twenty minutes spent looking over my schedule, my mom handed back an outline of what was sure to be the most miserable week of my life.
"Enjoy," she threatened.
As I'd feared, my mom had mapped out every single minute of my day.
This is not how I normally live my life. In the mornings, for instance, I typically spend an hour walking my dog, but my mom had cut that down to make room for bills and, for some reason, "writing Thank-Yous." I have my bills set to autopay online, so I glided right along to writing thank-you notes, something I have not done since my college graduation party.
I must have been hungry, because all my thank-you notes were food-related.
My sketch team had a show that night, but since I'm a writer on the team, my attendance isn't strictly required. My mom mercilessly cut the show from my schedule in favor of working out. I felt guilty, but was also secretly relieved. I attended a tiny Pure Barre class which I was surprised to enjoy (I usually hate working out).
During my obligatory call to my mom, I told her I'd enjoyed the class, and she quickly added the same workout to my Thursday regime. "Once you find something you like, you should stick with it," she said.
My schedule next led me to "get organized/clean" which is something I loathe. My brand of organization is to make piles on my floor, so I concluded I was already organized and rewarded myself with TV. (Sorry, mom.)
I journaled and went to bed, making my 11:30pm bedtime. All in all, day one was a success.
I slept through my alarm, so I had to cut out one of my mom's scheduled events in the morning.
Can you guess what it was? That's right, it was "clean, organize."
I suspect my mom added "meditation/prayer" to the middle of my work day as an excuse to de-stress. I went into a little room with my laptop and started looking online for meditation directions, since I had no idea how. I found this site that listed a few ways to meditate at work. One required me to turn off my computer, light a candle, and stare into the flame. I didn't have a candle, so I downloaded "Virtual Candle Free" on my phone and stared at that instead.
I didn't "get" it, but it was still nice to take a break from work that didn't include getting swallowed up in Reddit's dankest memes.
I meditated on this virtual candle:
I got home late — past my mom-approved bedtime. Already I feared my alarm the next morning.
I really struggled to avoid hitting snooze.
I didn't get my seven hours of sleep, a common problem my mom warns against. It's a harder problem to correct than she thinks!
The rest of the day goes OK, but I find I don't have enough time to make a full meal for dinner. This is why my mom schedules that meal but no other: because I often skip it. I either forget to eat, or I run out of time. Yes, Soylent may be the answer, but that's for another time.
Because my mom was also clearly concerned about me having enough clean clothes, she scheduled me to "start" my laundry at 11:00 pm. :(
FINE MOM. HAPPY?
My mom changed my schedule drastically today.
I had a three-hour sketch group meeting, but my mom shortened my attendance to about an hour. I felt very guilty about that. When my team asked why I was leaving, I MADE UP an excuse about an "important meeting" with an "agent." They were very congratulatory, which only made things worse.
That being said, working out for a second time felt really good. I NEVER make time to work out twice in a week. I'm lucky if I go for a run once a week. But it's true — even though I dread doing it, I feel much better after it's done.
It’s like my mom says: working out is like a therapist for your body. It will help you work through your issues, and after a good cry, you’ll leave feeling better.
I "organized" my makeup in the morning, and even spent half an hour with my new favorite candle app during work. Surprisingly, it was during the "movie and dinner with Mike" portion in which my night fell apart.
It's sad when you are in your late twenties and your mom has to plan your date. It's even sadder when your boyfriend of eight years stands you up on said date. Who do you call to complain to when this happens?
In his defense, my boyfriend was stuck at work until 11:00 pm, but I was still sad to have a date cancelled.
We talked a bit more about my week, and she admitted that perhaps she had been giving me a hard time about being too lazy to exercise, clean, and cook. "I thought I knew how busy you were," she said, "but until you see it on paper and try to fit stuff in, you don't realize it."
After we hung up, I had the distinct feeling that my mom and I had ended this experiment with a better understanding of each other. I still think being busy is a good thing, as long as your schedule isn't packed with too many "wastes of time," or, as I like to call it, time garbage. Stuff like eating dinner, working out, taking some me-time (or meditating) — that stuff is time well-spent.
It's as simple as that: get rid of the time garbage.
Then my phone vibrated. Always being one to need the last word, my mom had texted me an addendum to our call:
Ugh Mom, fine. You're right.