I Vacuum

I live in a state of inadequacy. 

There is the used to be and the now.

I used to be a teacher. A college-level badass who could juggle 4-5 classes per semester, lecturing about rhetorical, creative, and technical writing. My heels would click solidly against sometimes slightly stilted tiles, giving my voice a rhythm to follow. My evenings were buried in updating lesson plans or grading papers and end in inky, battered fingers. 

And my mornings?

I would wake up at 5 and write. Really write. Pages. And pages more. There were days here and there where the page would remain blank. But then it would all return, a thriving flow of confident words molding onto the screen in front of me. 

I used to be a hostess. I cooked for parties of sometimes 50. Everything from appetizers, main meal, dessert. I would spend weeks planning, have lists as long as I am, and on the day of, was calm and collected. I served Indian, Mexican, Italian… all you had to do was come and grab a plate. 

I used to be able to take time and wring it to my use. 

I think I miss that the most. 

Because now, my sense of accomplishment is often laid upon my trusty vacuum cleaner. 

When a day passes where seemingly nothing has been really done… Where I have awoken, bathed, dressed, fed my child. Where I have stuck back pieces of her toy food over and over again just so she can cut them apart again. Where I have let her pick out shoes that don’t match and then run wild on a city sidewalk to the post office and back. Where I pointed to the rising Solstice moon and she pointed back and said MOON! Where I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to make for dinner (and consequently didn’t make any) because I don’t know how to plan anymore. Where I gave in to my girl’s screaming cries and turned on “Let it go” so she would eat ten more bites of dinner. Where I bent down to collect a letter “G” magnet and realized there is way too much on the floor.

It’s 9 PM and I have done nothing adequately. 

But I can do this. 

I pick up the pajamas she decided after 10 minutes of wearing them, she didn’t want to. I pick up the shreds of wrapping paper I gave her to play with in hopes of finishing the dishes. I pick up little colored pegs she no longer needs the wooden hammer to push in and out of their holes on an IKEA board. I pick up so many colored pencils of so many sizes. 

My girl knows what’s coming. She settles herself on the sofa in her favorite corner and turns on her father’s old, old tablet. I don’t even bother saying no, although something in the back of my head tells me I should. 

But I need this. 

I pull out the vacuum, a largish, middle-aged, noisy contraption. It grumbles on and I feel a little more viable again. Gone are the bits and pieces of god-knows-what scattering my kitchen floor. Gone are the strands of hair my head refuses to keep after a shampooing. Gone are the grains of dust and dirt by the front door. Everything is going, going, gone. 

And I am enjoying this. Every push and pull. Every angled mash against the wall. Every pattern stroke left on my plush bathroom mats. This is DOING. This is ADEQUACY.

Perhaps a little too soon, it’s over. But I am a little more content. A little more worthy to myself. A little more… me. 

15 minutes later, I bend down yet again to pick up a dropped magnet letter. A strand of my girl’s brown-black hair glares back off my just-cleaned floor. 

My heart drops. I leave the magnet. I leave the hair. I pick up my girl and take her to bed. 

Because now, I only have just enough to give it all to her. 

Just enough.