The boring blues

Confession: I am often bored.

I realize that this statement is tantamount to blasphemy, considering that I have four kids, a husband, a large garden, a blog, and that I homeschool, read, watch movies, cook much of my food from scratch, go for walks, talk on the phone, chair a church commission, clean house, etc. With all that responsibility you would think The Boredom Feeling wouldn’t even be on my radar.

But alas, I am not only sometimes bored, I am often bored.

I know, I know! Something is seriously wrong with me.

I’ve always been this way, ever since I was a little kid lollygagging on the living room floor, the oppressive cloud of Nothing To Do pressing me down into the ratty brown carpeting. My mother didn’t cater to my whines, not one little bit. I got oodles of lectures on the value of productivity, so many, in fact, that the P-word became my most hated word in the whole entire English language. (Now that I’ve grown, the P-word and I are on very friendly terms, though it hasn’t done much to solve my boring blues.) And more often than not, if I fussed to her that there was nothing to do, I found myself with a damp rag in my hands, listlessly dusting the kitchen chair rungs while resolving to never, ever confide in my mother again.

Now I have my own house, my own ratty brown carpet, my own chair rungs and I still get shadowed by the Nothing To Do cloud. Now, however, the cloud is more like a mist, damp and creepy, seeping into the corners of my being, pushing on me from all angles, slowing me down.

This is not depression, mind you. In fact, for the most part I’m an optimistic, up-beat, cheerie person (except for when I’m not). I manage and accomplish just fine. But I perpetually struggle to keep myself motivated.

I think that I might be a fruitcake to have this problem. I know no one else who battles boredom like I do. I am surrounded by people who never seem to have enough time in the day, who have projects going from morning to night and who are able to keep themselves motivated, moving briskly from project A to project B to project F and so on.

Me, on the other hand, I piddle and fritter and sigh. I force myself do things. I maintain.

There is certainly plenty to do, but for me boredom is not an absence of things to do but a lack of pressure. And this is the crux of the matter because I don’t like to be pressured. (Oh the ironies!) I limit my social engagements, stridently protecting our quiet country life, keeping our evenings free for reading, movies, popcorn, and lots of chit-chat. I am careful not to tax myself with too many commitments. But then, with too much freedom and not enough pressure, I lose steam. I get bored. With the reverse, too much pressure and not enough freedom, I get irritable and tense. It’s a balancing act of the most intricate sort, one I have yet to master.

After suffering under the boredom curse for my whole life, I have come to believe that my inclination towards boredom is not a character flaw, but rather a personality trait. Certain people are never bored; other people are. It has something to do with wiring. (Yo-Yo and Sweetsie get bored a lot [and it irritates me to no end]; Miss Beccaboo and The Baby Nickel do not.)

I don’t have an answer for why or how I’m bored, but I do know that I’m a high-needs person (just ask my husband, or my mom). I need to be fed, intellectually and emotionally, on a pretty extravagant scale. No matter how many inspiring books I read or radio shows I listen to, the country life is sometimes deficient in intellectual stimulation for little ol’ extroverted me. (Living in an isolated Nicaraguan village for two years was pure agony for my needy self, physically painful, exhausting me in ways I had never before experienced.)

(“Absorption.” This might be another way of looking at the issue. I have trouble staying absorbed. There are a few specific times that I am fully absorbed: working on photo albums or something artsy, writing, meaningful conversations.)

Some days my life is frenetic. Days when I have errands to run or appointments to keep. Days when the garden is in full riot and I’m up to my elbows in canning jars and sauces and salsas and peaches. But still, even when life is intense, I find myself fighting the draggy boredom blues.

I just thought you might like to know that about me.

Oh yes, and that I spice up my boring life with a set of fat, waxy lips.

I think everybody ought to have a pair for when the going gets dull.

About one year ago: Cinnamon Tea Biscuits


  • Sarah

    Love the lips and I have to confess – you had me going on the rocking chair thing even though I was a bit skeptical. I even scrolled back up to take a second look at it and wondered if you had some help with it! I get bored also, but it's more like feeling restless. It's usually when I have things I want to work on but I put things I should work on first.

  • Anonymous

    You've hit the nail on the head with your astute analysis of boredom/lack of motivation. I, too, suffer from the same. Now at least w know we're not alone, huh? I think someone like us invented those Amish rockers…they're PERFECT to be bored in…or busy, too, if you're that type. 🙂 Thanks for the post! JDM

  • Karen

    J – I need some parenting advice. Will be calling you soon. It will be my attempt to keep you from getting bored.

  • Zoë

    Mavis, I'm not even close to being old and I have boat loads of house plants. So many, in fact, that in the winter when I bring lots of plants in from outside, there isn't much room for anything else on all of my window sills and end tables…and I live in a fairly big house.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Mavis, Those are indeed my baby blues, plain and simple. They match my shoes quite nicely.

    I MADE that rocking chair. One day when I was bored, I grabbed a machete and went out and cut down a sapling, stripped off the bark, soaked the green branches, and when they were pliable enough, I curled them into a Berenstain Bear type chair. Cool, huh?

    I can't believe you don't have houseplants, seeing as you're such a penny pincher! Didn't you know that house plants equal free decorating? My mother is queen of houseplants, even before she went and grew old (it is NOT an old people's activity—coupon clipping is way more vintage). I'm not nearly as good at it as my mom, but I try (kind of). And that plant you see in the photo is a spider plant, one of the less sickly ones.

    (I'm kidding about the chair, you know. But did I get you? Huh? HUH? It's an Amish rocker—my parents gave it to us as a wedding present.)

  • Kris

    I've just stumbled across your blog via SimpleBites and it's funny as I just had this same revelation. Motherhood is too boring. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids and I love being their mother but I've been a risk taker all of my life. A calculated risk taker. And, life in the suburbs with young children does not lend itself to risk taking and adventure. I'm on a mission now that I've realized why I'm slowly losing my mind when other mothers seem so perfectly content to find a way to incorporate more real adventure into this motherhood gig.

  • Meshan

    Dr. Perfection, when are you going to start your own blog? Your comments always make me think. Hmmm, I'm going to be pondering your question all day.
    JenniferJo, bored? You? You amaze me. I too read The Help, but it never crossed my mind to try and make the decadent caramel cake so often talked of in the book. I think your boredom spurs you to action. Me, I suffer from lack of motivation. Blah

  • It's me ...Mavis

    #1 I too get bored VERY EASILY… It's good to know I'm not the only one. I simply cannot sit still… it is like torture for me… I LOVE to be alone… yet I am constantly volunteering for crap…

    #2 I think Dr. P needs to have a blog… I'd read it…As long as she didn't go on and on about shoes… Oh… and tell her for her picture at the top of her blog I think she should be dressed in all white, with a pair of snazzy shoes, laying down on a big brown leather couch with her feet propped up wearing her cool hip chic glasses (the bigger the better) with a yellow pencil and a white tablet pretending to write…

    #3 Are those really YOUR blue eyes? Or contacts? It was the first thing I noticed about the picture… Well that and the rocking chair… Who made that?

    #4 And I'll also add… I didn't know you were the houseplant type… Is that a fern? I thought only really old people had house plants.

  • Karen

    Yup. The lips are great! Except that now I have that Veggie Tales song about lips in my head. Thought I'd let you know that I relate to the paragraph where you talked about pressure…how you operate best under it, but don't really like it. You limit your commitments but that too much freedom doesn't always work either. I hear ya!!!

  • kate thaete

    i'm often bored too – but i don't describe bored as simply "lacking" something to do. i describe bored as "not interested in doing what there is to do." for instance, i am currently bored – but there are dishes i could do and a carpet that hasn't seen a vacuum in so long that my mother would be ashamed… (the same woman who used to say "need something to do? i'll give you something to do…")

  • Margo

    Fascinating. I love this kind of talk and analysis. I'm someone who doesn't get bored, ever, but believe me, I have tons of other issues 🙂 They're just outside the scope of my blog!

    Wonder if I'll dream about the lips now, too?

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Those lips are something else. I don't know that I get bored…but I do have two modes I seem to function in. Mode one is productive- I just spent some time in mode one- put dinner together and in the fridge, washed dishes, cleaned a bathroom, helped the kids fill the kiddie pool, cleaned up the schoolroom. Now, I am in Mode 2. Mode two means I want nothing to do with anything I would normally do in Mode one. I want to read blogs, snack, be anything but productive. I go back and forth. It's either one or the other. Whatever is it I have going on, I don't think the lips would help:-(.

  • Zoë

    Yikes! I think I may be just like you! You are not the only one who suffers from this here affliction.

    I think I need one of those sets of lips. They would solve this problem in a grand way.

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