The Last 10% (on Finishing Things Well)

37 weeks pregnant. The last hour of a marathon. The last week at a job. The final final final draft of a manuscript. Whatever it is you're finishing, that last 10% always seems to be the hardest.

I have a hard time finishing things. My husband will attest to multiple almost-empty conditioner bottles in the shower, one-gulp-left glasses of milk on the table, can't-put-away-until-it's-done craft projects all over the house, half-sorted computer files. For someone who loves closure, personally, professionally, relationally... WHY is it so hard to finish things well?

I think there's a part in each of our brains that simultaneously craves and fears endings. You can't turn the radio off before the song finishes—but if you do, you end up singing that last line. Goodbyes at the airport, at the hospital, at the office; so awkward, so wistfully unfulfilling, and yet we feel cheated if they don’t happen.

It’s so much easier to get to 90% and call it a day. Renovating the house, but chucking out that short list of troublesome “must-touch-up” spots after it has hung on the fridge for a month. Executing a plan, but forgoing post-mortem notes for next time. Take diligent notes at a conference, but file them away without consolidating them for easy reference (Guilty, guilty, guilty)

I want to finish this pregnancy well.

I want to get this stage over with. I'm not ready to care for a newborn. I want to meet her. I want a couple more weeks to adjust. 


I don’t want my only conversation points to orbit around uncomfortable symptoms, anxiety and how my “whole life is going to change”. I want to somehow transition gracefully, serenely, into the next wide, wonderful, tumultuous new season of motherhood. I don’t want to be consumed with breastfeeding, postpartum recovery, and sleep pattern research for the next 3 months. 

And yet, how could I not?

This transition is the biggest one that life can bring. 

How do I do it well, without having done it before?

How do I go from thinking primarily about myself, my own comfort, my time, my talents, my body—to pouring every fibre and every hour into a newborn?

How do I still stay me?

The only answer I come up with to these questions circles back to that last 10%. This is why everyone’s telling me to use this holding pattern, this purgatory-like waiting period, to rest, reflect, and reward. 

To pause. To be okay with waiting; with the lack of control. To look back and recognize the miracle that has been brewing for the last 9 months. To enjoy the little things like my favourite takeout or a night of Netflix or restocking my essential oils shelf. 

These days, I’m pretty inert. But I remind myself that I am not defined by what I do. If I was, I’d fall under the classification: Whale, Beached.

Despite my torpidity, I can still be thoughtful. Kind. Intentional. Purposeful, even if all that means is to choose a bowl of frozen cherries over ice cream, or finally sitting down to write this blog post instead of opening Netflix for the nth time this week. 

This is how I’m trying to finish well; how I’m trying to frame my last weeks. I message friends. I knit. I tidy forgotten pockets of the house. I sit at the piano and continue my little one’s nascent introduction to all the Disney classics. 

Don’t be mistaken for a moment that I’ve figured this stage out—that I’m doing it at all gracefully. 

I’m just doing it. 

How about you? How are you doing with that last 10%?