I’m a big fan of The New York Times Parenting content and, since news for me is best served in small bites, I especially enjoy their Instagram. My favorite feature is their weekly reader-submitted “Tiny Victories”; a celebration of small moments of triumph in the long days of parenting (and the days have been looong). The notion of Tiny Victories really stuck with me this summer. I was put on furlough in early April and the majority of childcare for our daughter fell to me. By the time the day ended, I was exhausted by everything. But each evening, I aimed to accomplish one small item from my never-ending To Do list. Sometimes it was just a small patch of weeding or cleaning out my inbox. But I would do it and it really did feel like a small moment of triumph – a Tiny Victory for me.
Early into quarantine, my husband and I jumped onto the bandwagon of puzzles. We eagerly emptied our first puzzle box onto the dining room table: 1,000 pieces, all seemingly the same shade of blue. The first few nights, we were into it. It was a little de-stressing activity. Sit down, zone out and focus on the puzzle. We put about 50% of the puzzle together but then the interest started to fade. So, the puzzle sat there. And sat there. And sat there. Once in a while we (mostly my husband) added a few pieces but it was largely left ignored.
Every day I would walk through our dining room and look at that half-done puzzle and it started to bug me. Why on earth did I think this would be relaxing? My whole life feels like one big puzzle to be solved on a daily basis, why did I think solving an actual puzzle with a zillion minuscule pieces would be a good way to relax? The activity had backfired. I told my husband: Let’s give up. We tried. I want our dining room table back. He replied: Really? I like it, let’s keep going. But, alas, it still sat there. Weeks went by. Hundreds of pieces scattered about, looking like the inside of my brain every evening. The puzzle had to go and so today, I went and scooped that thing back into its box. Five months of semi-puzzling took me five minutes to clean up. And you know what? It was my Tiny Victory of the night.