Periodically, I pick on my husband for his routine, mostly because I inadvertently do something to disrupt it. I am learning his ways, improving with time, and occasionally telling him his attempts to assimilate my ways are futile (nod to the Borg he was for Halloween). Once, during a sort of negotiation over where to hang towels, he asked me if I had particular preferences or routines I wished to preserve. After weeks of thinking about this, I can definitely list key things that establish order in my day. Also, I despise interruption in the process. (Yes, Handsome Husband, I admit it.) This is important because if I can just preserve the small things, the big things, which are absolutely out of my control, will matter less.
In the morning, I like coffee. Strong coffee with some kind of milk and some kind of sugar so long as those items are not chemically altered—no powdered creamer, or that strange faux-milk hazelnut flavored creamer stuff, or artificial sweeteners. I like to be showered and dressed before setting foot downstairs. I don’t feel right unless I have taken the time to fix my hair and apply cosmetics-- something I promised myself I would always do for two reasons: to avoid the question my naked face usually prompts in public (“Are you sick?”), and because I used to watch all the frumpy, worn out, disheveled mothers of babies and swear I would at least try to look groomed, polished, and less stressed than I usually am. (Is it working?)
The AM drop-off procedure allows me to sandwich errands on the way home before lines develop in stores, thus preserving valuable time. Child A, bus stop; Child B, personally delivered to school; grocery, bank, gas station, pharmacy, et cetera. By the time I get back here to the desk, never later than 10 AM, the potential warmth and smoky flavor of a second cup of coffee beckons. And so it must be these steps: heat coffee, have conversation with dog (most important), household and children’s administrative tasks, and if time allows, write a post for this blog. After that, the other work begins, and it must be done with as little noise as possible. I cannot edit to news, television, or music. There are breaks for chores and meals. Errands to Target, Home Depot, or the vet, which are in a different part of town from the kids’ schools, are scheduled 45 minutes to an hour before the youngest is released from school.
Routine is mini-tradition. It makes things sure and provides normalcy when everything else is new, changing, and uncertain. I love returning to routine at the end of holidays or vacation. We subconsciously create these customary habits out of necessity, and then later we consciously strive to preserve them. Even the family dog has her rituals: where she sleeps, when she rises, how long she prefers to be outside for her morning potty break, and the food bowl dance.
As I write this, I check the clock. I have scheduled chunks of desk time this week to work on an essay for graduate school--a big thing, a big maybe, and totally out of my control as to whether or not I will be accepted or live here long enough to complete. Researching and writing to apply for school though? This can fit snugly into my routine. I am assured that I will have at least accomplished an attempt to apply to school by the time January comes.
Humans love sameness no matter how much we claim to fight it. Given a free seating choice in a classroom, most people choose the chair that they will continue to use each time class meets. Friday nights become the norm for movies at home or date nights with friends. We make our coffee the same way each morning or order the same drink, a bloody Mary, each time we indulge in Sunday brunch. We choose the same route for driving to work or we frequent certain restaurants on the weekend. I know one certain handsome husband that must shine his shoes each evening when he returns from the office.
Today, I am ahead of schedule, but pushed myself there due to a lunchtime obligation with my daughter at her school. You know, that sweet event might be a nice break from… routine.