Amazed and Confused

comments: 87


























We have this saying in our house. You use it when you have just done something that you "obviously" shouldn't have done, or failed to do something that you "obviously" should have done, etc. To use it, just say, when confronted, "But no one told me." Jam the dishes all together and face them away from the sprayer in the dishwasher so nothing gets clean? "But no one told me." Go inside and lock the door, leaving the dog alone in the unfenced front yard? "But no one told me." See how it works?

I'm shocked, actually shocked, at how much trouble I've had concentrating this week, Amelia's first "full" week of preschool. (She goes three mornings a week, four hours per day.) I truly, honestly, actually thought that the minute I got home after dropping her off I would hit the ground running, attacking my to-do list with fervor and efficiency, since so much that is on it are things that I have been wanting to, needing to, wishing I could do for months. And, to be perfectly clear, these are not optional things, or things that should wait any longer, or things that I can just continue to blow off without consequence. I can't even bear to go into details, because honestly I still haven't even made the list of what things these not-optional things all are, and that — to be meta about it — is exactly the problem. I know there are things on my list but I don't know exactly what they are. Instead of trying to determine, I've just sort of been . . . wandering around . . . feeding myself . . . reading Vanity Fair while feeding myself again . . . putting five-pound bags of bread flour into any available space instead of cleaning the cluttered cabinet . . . stuffing new fall clothes into drawers that haven't been emptied of bathing suits and tank tops . . . starting to knit new sweaters before weaving in the ends of the previous sweaters . . . watching made-for-TV movies about Wills and Kate . . . making a puppet theater. Normally I do do all of those (random and generally inconsequential) things but also get, if I do say so myself, a whole shiteload more stuff that actually has to be done, done, too. Lately — nothing. Pretty much nothing at all. Before I know it, it's 12:48 p.m., and time to go pick up Meems, and I am amazed — like, bug-eyed, hands-on-cheeks, cartoon-character amazed. Four hours goes fast. The first day of school it went so slow! But now it's over before I can even believe it. And apparently everyone knows all about this finally-have-some-time-to-do-something-and-now-I'm-doing-nothing inertia. It's a thing.

But no one told me!


In the true spirit of the way we use the phrase here at home, of course it's not at all true that no one told me. To really use it correctly, the thing that no one supposedly ever told you has to be a thing that someone has, you know, all but made a full-time job out of repeatedly telling you. Ah, it's a mysterious phenomenon, this particular brand of "forgetting." I've experienced this exact Mysterious Phenomenon before, and have even told myself about it. Nevertheless, I'm caught off-guard once again, flatfooted and bewildered, my mouth full of bread-machine bread and jam, my thoughts centered on what George and Charlotte's nursery looks like at Bucklebury, my hands filled with tangled yarn or covered in papier mache instead of busy at my computer, working on my new pattern that I'm supposed to have done for you to make in time for your own Christmas. My bank account is bone dry. My social life is destitute. But still I sit around ironing wrinkles (not very well) out of puppet curtains and pinning more cake recipes to my birthday-cakes Pinterest board (how many does one woman need?).


I did cook something. That is my mom's sauce, with short ribs, sausage, and meatballs, and her lasagna. No meal on earth tastes more like my childhood autumns and winters than this one. And seriously, if you want a totally authentic Italian "gravy" that simmers for hours and makes you cry, this is it.

I did finish knitting something. It is the Eithne sweater, and I started it at the river and finished it last night. (And then, as mentioned, cast on something else before I wove in the ends or put the buttons on this.)

I did finish my puppet, Miss Margot Maude Peaseblossom, and she made me very happy.

And don't tell Meems about the doorway puppet theater (I didn't have a pattern for that, I just kind of measured the door, and winged it, but I know there are tutorials for these on-line). It's part of her birthday present (along with the oh-so-practical hat/scarf/mittens ensembles I've been knitting to go with each of her coats [rain/fancy/duffel] which are almost all done). I decided to make her her own papier mache puppet for her birthday, too, since, you know, Margot Maude and her hair, etc. . . .


Patti Dunaway says: September 21, 2016 at 05:06 PM

yes my dear, I've been waiting with bated breath for that Christmas cross stitch!! Had promised myself that as SOON as I finished grad school I would cross stitch A TON. Now the summer has come and gone after graduation and I'm still kind of aimlessly trying to get into a no-school routine. Kind of like a "kid's at school, time to adult" routine. Good Luck, it's all same stuff, different day (or year!)

It's the flip side of that truism that "If you want to get something done give the job to a busy woman." I've known it in many forms over the last decade. I think of it as a strange kind of brainstorming. Because eventually you do get going and find the focus. Good luck, and relax!

But...but, you do it so gorgeously!
It's all true. No hours are more fleeting, more unaccountable, than the hours when we leave our children at preschool, particularly when we have those hours assigned to miraculous achievements, and loads of accomplishments. I sympathize because I still recall the shock and awe of how un-cued into reality I could be, how removed from what really really really had to get done, and doing none of it. I sympathize, and then I see what you are doing and I am breathless and admiring. What lovely meals, such creative gifts, and always your eye and heart together capturing moments in the day... moments you'll treasure, and be happy to have preserved. Humor and grace, did anyone ever tell you? They help us as we move forward, doing our best. And your best looks lovely and worthwhile.

Laughing - I love how you make me feel normal. :) I do the same mindless nothing when I'm simply burnt out. I'm sure you'll bounce back once you've let yourself just recover from a busy, little girl filled summer!

Well... The Flock & Fiber Festival is this weekend....

Well.. just start the list... one step at a time. Your mind must need that downtime and it's taking it. Follow your muse. :-) I think I need to make a list.. maybe.. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

I have been in that exact same situation since I retired on Dec 31 and packed and moved and sort of unpacked. It's already 2/3 of the way through September and none of my anticipated cross-stitch projects and the Olallieberry quilt that I'd like to do for myself is even started! So maybe the year AFTER the first year of retirement is the year to start the projects; I just seem to enjoy lounging and sleeping in late so far. Good luck with that, Alicia. It seems that it's a little harder than we think to change gears from ultra fast go-go-go to s l o w e r b e c a u s e w e n o w h a v e s o m e e x t r a t i m e.

Though I normally finish reading your blog posts with a sense of homey coziness (and always a renewed longing to be your best friend) and familiar frantic creativity, today I think we must really be kindred spirits. I got a little thrill to see that 70s floral tin on your shelf, just like the one we always kept buttons in when I was growing up.

I've recently finished creating a sewing and knitting room for myself, but couldn't bring myself to put my buttons in anything other than a tin that looked just like that, so they were in a sad mason jar. That it's, until today, when I found the exact tin waiting for me at an antique mall for a few dollars. The room seems complete, now. What do you keep in yours?

Oh Alicia, how wonderful. I feel the same way right now- big changes going on, many of which have just finished. The letting go is so very disorganized, which somehow I imagined wouldn't be the case. It's freeing and terribly anxiety provoking at the same time, though I really don't have the energy to be in the anxiety so much- so I just watch it float by, and just go- F it. And then I think... There are people who feel this way all the time. How lovely. the possibility of that makes me happy. Life goes on, no matter what. So, F it. Enjoy the hell out of that puppet theater and whatever else is good right now.

Well you may not be getting some things done that you need to do, but you have perfectly described "'m-doing-nothing inertia" and you in fact have accomplished a lot, Alicia. Thanks for posting another delightful post that I am certain I needed to view. Know that I am cheering you on with love. xx

I've been waiting on pins and needles for your Christmas cross-stitch pattern as well! And I also have a darling girl in preschool for the first time this year. It's so true how 4 hours will fly by in an instant.

I homeschooled, so my quiet alone time came years after yours has. I definitely felt the same inertia. I was bewildered to discover that, while I spent so long producing books in every spare moment and wishing for whole hours or days to write, when they actually came I could barely write at all, let alone do crafts and the various other things I'd managed to squeeze into my schedule before. I didn't actually know this was A Thing, but now you mention it, it makes sense.

That puppet and theatre are beautiful.

There are no words for how much I love this post. I thought it was just me who had (too many) days like this. But now I know it's an actual thing I am happy as a clam. CJ xx

Michaelanne says: September 22, 2016 at 03:32 AM

Miss Margot Maude Peaseblossom is VERY lovely!!! Meems is going to LOVE her puppet theater!! You are such a great Mom...and funny!!! haha!!! PS...Those kissers are as cute as can be :)

Alicia, you needed this time to do exactly what you wanted to do. You did it and it is glorious. You'll start on the rest when you're ready.

I hope you will share how you made that adorable puppet. I love the puppet theater and I think your girl will too. I admire your creativity, it is inspirational!

Catherine Smith says: September 22, 2016 at 05:44 AM

This is so funny and so so true. It's the strangest thing- it really is. I finds myself "messing about" with inconsequential tasks when the jobs are piling up around me. I think it's a creative thing. Maybe sometimes you just need to kind of empty your head and do what your heart desires for a bit. You'll suddenly snap back into work mode and be really productive. As Mums we so rarely switch off, and when our little ones go to nursery/school perhaps we just need to decompress for a few days/hours. The fact that so many of us suffer from this suggests it's probably normal and a good thing. You'll be up and at 'em very soon. I love your writing- been following you for years. If I lived down the road I'd pop round and slump on a squashy sofa with you and just goggle at Wills and Kate. Enjoy. Xxx

♥She is always such a joy to watch grow up..and your food and photos and puppet thetaer:) Handiwor...all

I agree with Catherine (above). With young kids, when the opportunity comes to 'switch off' it seems like a physiological switch is literally triggered inside me. I struggle with doing anything after the kids are in bed, too, even when I've been motivated and relatively awake until then. As soon as they are tucked up for the night I crash horizontal and can't get up. When I was working at home it was the same thing, as soon as they were off to school I struggled to do all the things that in the months (or even moments) before I was geared up to do: clean the floors! organize the basement! garden! crochet! um... even work! Now I work at an office part time and find my time at home is back to being busy and productive. Enjoy the sloth, soak it in, embrace it without guilt or pressure - you've earned it. xo

oh, all the things and experiences we mothers go through! I have not read (most) of the comments above, but have felt the same way once each of my children ended up at school and "away" for a few hours or more each day. for perspective, I think of it as a recoup for the many years of 24/7 mama time that we have given, selflessly and lovingly for YEARS without a break like this~reliable, consistent and good for everyone involved. no guilt trip, no remorse, just some time. fresh from the oven but what to do with it?
so good on you for taking that time, this time, whatever time you need, to sort yourself out. find you. find what you are now that you are mama and wife and crafter and business owner. your efficient use of time (as decided by you) will come back around when you are ready. and it will ebb and flow again and again, most times without you noticing. my good friend calls it the "hustle" when we are in the mix, getting all the things done usually without appropriate amounts of sleep and/or coffee. and when that subsides, we have time to look around and make life what we want it to look like.
enjoy both sides and all the in-betweens. love your writing as always~xoxo

OMG I love this post so much. And I am immediately stealing But No One Told Me. Genius. We have a saying in our family called Everybody Gets To Do What They Want To Do, which I feel is adjacent to yours. I wrote about it here:

Also: I owe you a text from like 3 weeks ago.

Love you K Bye

Bethany Hissong says: September 22, 2016 at 07:11 AM

This post is so EVERYBODY! I experienced this again when both of my kids are now at college... I am supposed to be resurrecting my illustration career. Instead I'm drinking coffee, reading blogs, perusing Pinterest and finding online classes to take. UGH. I do think it's burnout from being constantly "on". We will get past this! I did accomplish things once I got used to the grade school schedule...don't worry Alicia! I'm sure it's just the adjustment period. :)

You, my dear are a fabulous writer! You really know how to put into words feelings, emotions, inanimate objects. PLUS you are funny! Seriously. I know it's stupid of me but when I read shiteload I couldn't stop laughing!!!! This post made my day😉 BTW this school year I've been experiencing the same thing. I'm usually hyper organized, but I've just been staring at tomato plants that look like swamp monsters and aren't producing anything and piles of stuff we're done with but I don't know what to do with. Maybe after a summer of kids and their insane schedules my brain is just re-booting? Anyway, thank you for a great post! PS my dad's Italian and we always put porkneck bones in our sauce. Something about pork in sauce makes it the best! Yours looks fab!

Oh my goodness. Yes. And yes to all the commenters as well. There should be a word for this...maybe in German. My schedule just switched from full-time daycare (truly full-time, 5 days a week, available from 7a to 6:30p) to kindergarten. I have been planning for this so that I could work for myself in the mornings and then be with her in the afternoons. I have a very compressed workday now and I need to get so much done and...there's been a lot of aimless frittering and un-focus. And then in the afternoons which I spend with her – we aren't getting much done then either even though there are a million household projects that have been on hold due to two full-time parents working. Just this week, today, three weeks into the new kindy schedule I've managed to create a to-do list for work and another for home. I better get going on that... :D

Oh my gosh, how I love this post! I laughed til' I cried. It's soooo true how that happens. I remember my little ones first days of school ( he's nine now) it all happened in the blink of an eye! Ha ha what great memories. I define lately have to try the sauce recipe and LOVE your puppet theatre!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at