What I Don’t Do

Three years and two children ago, I wrote about a Shauna Niequist essay that has stayed with me for years now. In it, she writes,

“And this is what Denise told me: she said it’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

The idea, from an essay excerpted here, and found in her book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Waycontinues to challenge me. So, first, to get it out of the way, what I do, in fact, do: I keep house, not beautifully but sufficiently. I fix meals, sometimes nourishing, sometimes indulgent, for my family. I read to my children, and put in the quantity time they require. These things listed below, the things I don’t do, allow me to do these things, to read more than your average bear, to write here, to pray, to homeschool(ish), to find the energy to choose kindness more often than not. Certainly there are probably many people in the world who do all this and more, effortlessly. I try to be OK with not being one of those people. So here goes:

Things I Don’t Do in 2018:

I don’t make yogurt or hummus or all our sandwich bread or any of a number of other things I could make. We’ve discussed this.

I don’t do my makeup or hair or eyebrows or nails with any kind of regularity. Some of it I don’t know how to do at all.

In addition to not making baby food (which I don’t have to, yet, but also don’t plan to), I also don’t cloth diaper or do any of the more hip baby carriers.

I do not care for the car, inside or out, although I keep a trash bag in there and occasionally make Pippin fill a reusable shopping bag with clutter. Embarrassingly, these are both improvements.

Most obviously, I don’t work outside the home. I’d love a tiny job, but it doesn’t make sense financially or logistically right now. Teaching at co op satisfies some of the same longing for a project of my own, as does this blog, but I’ve had to shelve even my modest career ambitions for now in order to have the kind of home life I want.

And I still don’t clean the shower if it can be helped.

What don’t you do? (And feel free to argue about a thing I’m not doing but really should — just don’t argue them all or you’ll find me disheveled and catatonic on the couch.)

12 thoughts on “What I Don’t Do

  1. For me the last one is huge… all the other stay at home moms I know have some sort of side job, however small. I don’t. I also hate doing my nails/ hair/ eyebrows and have to schedule it on Fridays, a day I chose because I find it truly penitential. (By schedule, I mean put on my list of stuff to do, not actually schedule at a salon, which would be delightful.) And until a magic device is invented to make Chobani flips, I will never attempt to make yogurt!


    • Yes! That was one of my frustrations with yogurt making: what I want to make is full-fat Greek yogurt, which I can’t always find at the store, but I can’t quite figure out how to make homemade as thick (for staying on toddler spoons) and protein-rich (for my children who eat v little variety).


  2. My kids are all past the stage but not making baby food was one of those ‘wish I could’ but better not for me too. Currently I don’t iron my husband’s shirts (or anything really).


  3. Ah, for some reason it always makes me happy to think of the things I consciously don’t do:

    Deep cleaning (much to my fastidious husband’s chagrin)
    Folding laundry
    Wrapping presents–gift bags forever!
    Thrifting or hunting down deals
    Shopping for non-grocery items in stores (I’ll break up with amazon when the kids are older)
    And same to making baby food, yogurt, bread, cleaning the car, and doing makeup.


  4. I guess mine is a little different. It’s hard for me, but I don’t stay home with my sweet boy because it’s more important in the short and long run for me to continue to work in order to provide health insurance! I feel like we could adapt to the loss of income but health insurance is not negotiable for me. I miss him a lot and relish our weekends together. For that reason I am very lazy about shopping in actual stores, spending time in the car, and I’ve completely given up on folding laundry. We have hampers of dirty clothes and hampers with clean clothes and for ages it really bothered me but I’ve finallyade peace with it.


    • I think that’s totally the same! I love seeing how different families figure out how to make things work for the season, maximizing time together and livable wages—it’s different for everyone! And it sounds like you’re quite reasonable in determining what household stuff you necessarily have to let go to make it all work!


  5. Your list could totally be my list! Although I did cloth diaper and make baby food with my first 2 kids (after the 3rd I was like NOPE). I would add: sign up my kids for a bunch of activities and homeschool. Ironically those are things I always thought I would do, but here we are. Life is funny sometimes.


    • I made a little baby food with my first but did baby led weaning with my second because why be lazy when you can pretend it’s ideological? And I cloth diapered for most of a year with my first but only a bit with my second and then gave my cloth diapers away 🙂 I never thought I would homeschool and now I am. Life is weird!


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