Who doesn’t sometimes suffer from this common modern affliction? It is almost expected in a society that values so much “being busy” — a well-adjusted adult is almost expected to have too little time to accomplish all of their weekly tasks, making the excuses we give ourselves for procrastinating easy to find and easy to use.
I have the privilege of being able to take time off work for the last weeks of my pregnancy. Pregnant with Paul, in 2013, I had waited until my 37th week to stop working, partly because it lined up with the winter holidays, but mostly because I didn’t allow myself to have free time if I didn’t absolutely need to. If I wasn’t absolutely unable to work, I felt like I had to keep going. Even after Paul’s death, I felt the obligation to return to work as soon as I got back to a more or less functioning state.
With this pregnancy, though I would have been physically able to continue working, I felt emotionally exhausted and professionally disinterested. It seems as though between adjusting back to my job after Paul’s death and feeling like I couldn’t wait for my parental leave, I only had a short few months of being back to “normal” — albeit a different « normal »than the one « before ». I wanted to quit, I wanted to take time for me and stop putting aside the important grief work I still need – I wanted to stop using work and fatigue as excuses for procrastinating on grieving and getting ready to welcome a newborn. After many discussions with people around me and gentle encouragement from a psychologist, I decided that I could use a few weeks of rest, both physically and mentally.
So I’ve had more time, fewer easy excuses. And yet, I procrastinate.
I postpone actually doing what’s on my to-do list, despite having all the time I need to accomplish these things. I postpone writing, even though it’s been the most healing and concrete way of grieving I have found.
Part of me feels guilty, and then part of me feels like it’s ok to procrastinate a little longer. It’s ok not to get done with everything I wanted to. Because it doesn’t matter much if I actually install that shelf or organize my photos. What counts most is to spend time with people I love, take care of myself and get some rest before the arrival of bebe-lentille. So maybe sometimes it’s ok to procrastinate, and not even have an excuse for doing so.
I was inspired to write this by The Prompt. You can find links to many other posts on the topic of procrastination here:
I’m glad you were able to start parental leave early and take some time to take care of yourself and prepare for the new baby. And take care of Paul in a way, too. Thinking of you during such a complicated time. Your babies are both so lucky to have such a wise and loving mom.
Thank you so much for your words. It has been a complicated and anxious time, but also a time filled with hope and love for Paul and new-baby… I am thankful to have time to try to work through this.
It’s also been interesting (for me) to think about how our culture of busy-ness is also what breeds, or helps to foster, 1) the very real push from society to « move on » and « get over » in the case of tragic loss and grief and 2) the lack of support for the grieving (i.e., most people are too busy, or they perceive they are, to offer a consistent ear, tangible company, to the bereaved).
I too am a procrastinator. The really big things and the really insignificant things seem to be my worst issues. Things right down the middle are my sweet spot… I actually get them done:).
From my sliver of a perspective, you’ve been doing a wonderful job of grieving and readying for the new baby, in tandem. You are a such a thoughtful and loving mother to your children.
Thank you Gretchen.
You are right that western expectations for adults (and children) to be busy and productive greatly impacts our ability to grieve. We are quickly expected to go back to work, go back to « normal » as if grieving was not an important work in and of itself… (I feel like i was shielded from part of those expectations because i work in a field focused on solidarity rather than productivity and yet, i put some of this social pressure on myself).
Thanks for sharing. I can so relate, both to the emotional exhaustion and the professional disinterest. To bad honest, the latter still isn’t completely gone… though there may be other complicating factors. I’m glad you can take the time you need now, and I’m sure it’ll be good for Bebe-lentille and you. Procrastinating seems like a very normal thing to do – for us it was hard to fully prepare for SB’s arrival, we were still scared something might go wrong… If your heart is ready, that’s a big accomplishment. The other infant needs will be easy to cover.
« To be honest », of course…
I suppose we are never quite ready for the arrival of a new baby, and having the experience of being forced to deal with the most unexpected and tragic outcomes that can be, it is even harder to « get ready ». It is hard to prepare for the potentially happy outcome of a healthy growing baby after living through the devastation of death and grief, but i find it absolutely impossible to prepare for an eventual other tragedy. I know it’s possible but it’s too hard to even consider…
I hope you are able to eventually resolve your professional disinterest, one way or another. Though it might not be as tragic as other challenges we have to deal with in life, work uses such a big chuck of our time that i think it is important to find it satisfying… at least a little!
One of the others who linked this week argued that procrastination is necessary; that we need to stop, delay the next task, and savour the moment sometimes, that we don’t need to be busy all the time. And, I agree, sometimes we should stop and do nothing but be in the moment, whatever that is. Whether we need to rest or heal or enjoy. The must-dos will get done, and the might-dos will get done when they get done. Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt, it’s lovely to meet you and your blog x