Small Accomplishments
March 20th, 2012

I’m certainly not alone in finding satisfaction in certain accomplishments.  It feels good to sit back and acknowledge the fruits of your labor.  It’s nice to know that something got done.  A job well done – even if you’re the only one who knows about it – is a welcome addition to any day.  Things like painting a room, finishing a long book, or spring cleaning the whole house are enormously satisfying.  Sadly, though, I’m not crossing many big projects off of my list these days.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of semi-ambitious projects queued up.  I still have plans to start an herb garden this spring.  And I want to refinish the coffe and side tables in our basement.  And I will get through A Tale of Two Cities at some point this year if it kills me.  But for the moment (this moment when sleep and energy are far too dear) I’m finding my satisfaction in smaller accomplishments. 

Sunday was a perfect example.  For a variety of reasons we skipped church on Sunday.*  The boys and I spent the morning puttering around the house, not breaking our necks, but slowly tackling little projects.  Sheets and towels were changed.  Both boys’ dressers were culled of clothes that no longer fit.  My closets were switched out, summer for winter clothes.  A Goodwill donation pile was started.  Two loaves of bread were baked.  A couple dozen sugar cookies were frosted.  Both dogs were bathed and walked.  And both boys took solid afternoon naps. 

At the end of the day I looked back at it and thought, “This was a good day.”  And it was.

As I’ve thought about it since then I have recognized that in their own way, small accomplishments like these can be even more satisfying than big ones.  Perhaps I only feel that way because I’ve lowered the bar lately.  But perhaps there is some truth in it.  On Sunday morning I didn’t set out to have an excessively productive day.  And it was only in the absence of any larger goal that I had the time and inclination to knock out several smaller projects.  I was almost surprised at all that I had accomplished, and tickled by the fact that I wasn’t spurred on by any stress or ambition.  The day turned out to be - as my mother would say -  a pleasant surprise. 

I’m still looking forward to starting my herb garden, getting back into reading, and painting our basement tables.  But in the meantime I’m quite enjoying opening my closet to see all of my spring skirts and blouses.  These small accomplishments can be quite big in their own way. 

*The Calvinist in me must justify myself: GAP is in the throes of a monster month at work and had to spend the entire weekend at the office.  I’m certainly game for doing church with the boys on my own, but given the current sleep deficit I’m facing I just couldn’t muster the wherewithal.  Also, my parents were in town for a weekend visit and they were hitting the road just about half an hour before the service started.  There.  I’ve explained myself.  (You can take the girl out of the Presbyterian church, but you can’t take the Presbyterian church out of the girl…)

3 Responses to “Small Accomplishments”

  1. Ana Says:

    First, I totally hear you on the sleep. THings are actually getting better for us (at 5 1/2 months) but it did require some…intervention. But all of January and February were a blur of exhaustion.

    Second, good grief woman, you call that I light day? I consider changing out the clothes from winter to summer to be a BIG project (that I haven’t tackled yet, who knew we’d need to do it so soon!). And you did all that on your own with your two little guys? I am seriously impressed!! I call it a good Sunday when we get the laundry done, groceries bough and food prepped for the week. That is seriously all we aim for—and it takes both of us to get it done!!

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    It’s amazing how important being productive is to some of us. It’s part of our “being.” Without it, we feel off.

  3. Anna Says:

    I’m with Ana, first I was impressed that you accomplished that much, THEN I was really impressed that you did all that without GAP. Good for you.