This past spring I stumbled upon this blog. It was a revelation. Fellow SAHMs, please, please check this out. I promise you will be glad you did, even if only for the feeling of relief that, no, it’s not just you…this is hard. Probably harder than it should be.
The basic idea is that to be fulfilled in our day to day lives, we need facets of community, goals, support, money and leadership. She talks a lot about how staying at home and raising children changed in the 20th century and how it has made it much more physically, emotionally and psychologically difficult.
I’m not going to recite it all back to you, I have faith in your reading abilities if you’re interested, but I’ve been amazed by how just the little kernel of an idea has changed the way I’ve approached my day.
G and I snuggle before his first birthday party
G turned one this past February and I was feeling anxious. He was becoming more independent and I was getting…bored. I loved being home with him, but it was all very quickly getting to a point where I felt like “what’s the point? If I do the laundry, there’s just going to be more laundry to do tomorrow.” My days dragged. I longed for weekends to arrive. I had no motivation to do anything.
In her “then vs. now” chart, the blog author points out that “then”, housework was integral to survival…now, if you don’t make dinner, meh, there’s always McDonald’s…so the work women do isn’t respected or recognized nearly as much or as vocally as it was.
My inner smartass of course took this information and went “SEE, there’s no reason I should do this work, there’s always McDonald’s!!”, but in the back of my head there was a little voice that was whispering “but I want better than that”.
It wasn’t much. Just a seed of a thought, but it grew and grew the more I thought about it.
It started with our kitchen.
The kitchen is where my day starts. G wants a bottle when he wakes up, and I need some tea, so we trudge down the stairs, turn on some music and enjoy our respective beverages together. It’s a nice routine. The only problem was, our kitchen was always a wreck.
Escaping to the porch was an option, but didn’t really address the issue
I’ve mentioned before that the Mr. does most of the cooking. He is a fabulous cook. What he is NOT is a dish-minimizing cook. I’m fairly certain he uses 4 different pots to cook Kraft macaroni and cheese. The result, of course, is that we have incredible meals, and even more incredible mounds of dishes. And neither of us likes to do dishes.
The Mr. takes care of G’s bedtime routine after cooking dinner (seriously ladies, back off, he’s mine) and so he (understandably) didn’t want to do the dishes. I didn’t want to do the dishes after dinner because…well, I’m lazy. But I hated that in the mornings, when I was slowly waking up and enjoying the company of my newly mobile and interactive little boy, I couldn’t find a place to put the milk jug when I went to fill his bottle. I had to push aside stacks of pans to to fill my tea pot.
I realized I had to stop waiting for somebody to justify the work to me. There isn’t a cosmic mom-boss who will get on my case if I don’t do my dishes before bed. There aren’t any investors, the stock price of my life won’t plummet if I don’t do the things I should. It’s just me, and I had to be enough.
I realized that I wanted a clean kitchen to wake up to in the mornings, and that even though I hate doing dishes, the benefit is enough to make it worth forcing myself to do them. I started doing the dishes every night while the Mr. rocked G to sleep. The sense of calm and peacefulness in my kitchen in the mornings became reward enough that I stopped looking for the outside praise for the task.
Then it moved to my bedroom.
We’ve never been bed-making people…but much like the kitchen, I realized our room was much more satisfying to be in when it was orderly and things were put away. Neither of us had been great about putting away clothing. Baskets of clean, folded clothing would sit, untouched for weeks, and sweaters and ties that needed to be folded and put away would collect on top of dressers.
I realized that we were both more likely to put our things away if the bed was made. Now the bed gets made (almost) every day.
It’s become an addiction. I’ve built an empire of self-satisfying tasks for myself. I’ve returned to school, I’ve founded a moms group, I’ve run for local government, I’ve started this blog. My days are now about 4 hours too short and weekends come and go in a blur. I want to take on the world.
It’s amazing the difference a change in perspective makes.
It isn’t about perfection. It isn’t about being what society thinks of as a superwoman. It’s about recognizing my own needs for orderliness, and attention and things to look forward to, and not waiting for them to just happen.
It isn’t easy. I still have to fight myself to do the dishes some nights, to make the bed in the morning. But knowing that I’m doing it for me makes it a little easier.
What has been your biggest struggle with staying home?