A friend messaged me the other day and asked, “What’s happenin’ in Janaland?” My reply: “The usual.” Nothin’ new around here. Just another typical day…most of us spend most of our lives having them. But we rarely share typical-day details because we think they’d bore others to tears (just speaking from experience). When I ask how someone’s doing, people commonly share the “big stuff” (I took a vacation, I’m having surgery, I got the job, etc), but if there’s no “big stuff” to share, they politely say the usual: “I’m fine.” The thing is, I actually do want to hear details about your typical day. Or “boring”, as you so label it. Maybe knowing that your daily life is as mundane as mine makes me feel normal somehow. Maybe it reassures me that I’m quite good-enough leading my boring, typical life. Since you are.
I’m guessing some of you may find yourself wondering the same. So, just for kicks, let’s unpack Janaland’s “usual”. Not because I think you’re desperate to know about Jana, but because you might wanna know about someone else’s regular ol’ day.
So. My “usual”. Friday morning. Didn’t sleep well at all. It’s kind of a thing with me these days. These months. These years. You’d think I’d be a coffee junkie because of it, but I struggle with anxiety and we anxiety-prone people don’t need any more jitters than we already have. The one cup of joe I had yesterday wound me up for hours so today it’s tea. For breakfast, I eat eggs (I’m a morning protein devotee) and an iced croissant (one of the most delicious concoctions ever concocted). After the sweet aroma of the two small oranges devoured by my 2yo, I have one of those too. She says they’re spicy.
We start off our homeschool class reading the Bible story of Joseph forgiving his brothers. Wish I could say otherwise but I feel like I read scripture to my kids mostly out of obligation. To who? I’m not sure. The stories in the Bible are hugely significant to me, but I also don’t want my children to hear them so much they start to tune them out. Anyway.
I spend the entire morning helping the 9yo and 6yo with their lessons. After about the fourth pencil drop, I ask them to please hang on to their writing utensils because I’m very tired and the sound of pencils hitting the floor is annoying me. My 9yo keeps looking at the clock. I have no idea why. Where is he going? I’m dictating sentences to him and I’m pretty sure he’s not listening because he keeps studying the clock. Sometimes I think my sleep deprivation may work in the kids’ favor. I’m so exhausted that I have no energy to get angry.
The 9yo heads off to his track class. The 6yo girl has been asking for days to make cookies. So we finally do. This is a huge deal for me to attempt. I like to cook by myself. I have a really hard time focusing on assembling recipes when people are talking to me. I even get tense when we have grown-up guests for dinner and they chat me up while I’m trying to finish in the kitchen. Let’s save the gabfest for the table. Need to make sure I don’t char the chicken.
The cookie recipe is simple enough. Until I’m flanked by a 6yo and 2yo who have both suddenly morphed into mini-Lady Chatterleys. Not only are there a myriad of questions about the recipe as well as demands to mix in ingredients, but also random stories (“The other day I saw a bird land on our car and poop on it”) and questions (“What are these buttons for?” It doesn’t matter! They’re not going in the cookies!).
The Janaland friend writes back and mentions having a fun lunch with another adult. Something I don’t get to do much anymore since I chose to start homeschooling two-and-a-half years ago. I’m so thankful I have the option to homeschool – and thankful for a husband who’s supportive – but I still find myself envious of people who have paying jobs and opportunities to lunch with friends. I miss that sort of thing. A lot.
I tell the 2yo it is time for her nap. She wants to play. No, I say, it’s naptime. I ask her to pick out some dolls. She picks one, then another, then another…I’m starting to feel like it’s not as much about the number of dolls as it is about avoiding naptime. I finally take her hand, pull her away from the doll things, and she screams. As I set her in bed, she curls into a tearful ball and turns her face away from me. She starts wailing, “I want daddy”. I tell her he’s at work but she persists in her loud request for him. One of my hands is resting on her mad little back, the other is pressed into my ear closest her, trying vainly to muffle her high-pitched screams. Her tantrum is hitting such decibels I think my eardrums might start crying. Is that a thing? Wait, that’s me. That’s me crying. Because sometimes it just feels like the right thing to do. Sometimes when people cry, there’s nothing to do but join in.
The kids have about an hour when they’re all in their separate rooms. We call it “quiet time” and it’s as much for me as it is for them. I try to use that time to read, write, or correspond with a friend. Today “quiet time” gets cut short by the 9yo who wants to finish up his history lesson so he can get to his video game, typically only allowed on Fri/Sat/Sun.
At some point I gaze out the kitchen window and find myself thinking about a friend who is much younger and wealthier than I. She lives in a newly renovated mansion in a gorgeous neighborhood in a cool city, wears the cutest outfits, and throws amazing birthday parties for her kids. That’s all it takes for Jealousy to hop up on the kitchen counter, duck her head at me, and give a knowing smile. She is always, always around, waiting in the wings, just waiting for an in. I do the whole thing of telling myself “you should be thankful for all you have”. Sometimes it works. I comprehend the prolific amount of blessing that I sit in the middle of every day, and Jealousy takes her leave. Sometimes trying to talk myself into thankfulness just makes me feel crummier.
The hubs gets home around 3:30pm and I head out for a walk after eating three over-sized cookies (successfully baked without burning any cookies or fingers). I have a massive playlist I’m listening to while walking, but some songs I pass by because they put a lump in my throat. Can’t do sad right now. There’s one song I adore that’s hard for me to listen to anymore because a friend said it reminded her of a significant loss she’s experienced. Knowing it breaks her heart makes mine sad too. So I skip it.
The weather is fabulous. My new tennies are rubbing a blister on my right foot. I notice I’m getting a cankersore where my 2yo accidentally headbutted me in the mouth the other day. I can hear the pulsing tinnitus in my right ear; sometimes it wakes me up at night. Uncool.
Dinner in shifts, because that’s how we do it these days. We try to all sit down at the table together but it’s rare that it happens. Then bathtime. Someone complains of a stomachache. Someone gets soap in their eyes. Semi-clean-up of scattered-about toys and cups. Possibly a dance party. But not tonight. Kiss the kids. Pray with them. Look them in the eye and tell them I love them. Sheer exhaustion then drives me to my bed where I often watch something funny or spend more time writing. Tonight I listen to the mellow voice of Rachael Yamagata crooning, to neighbor kids screaming in delight next door. The last rays of sunset slide through the blinds into my room.
You know…the usual.