I was talking to David about this earlier while he was at work. He’ll tell you he was rushing from one appointment to the next, trying to grab some lunch before he hopped in the car for another 40-minute ride. I think he spends his days having wonderful, intelligent, laughter-filled conversations with other adults before taking a nice lunch break in a cute restaurant, either with a co-worker or two, or even, even (!) by himself. Funny how the other world seems to glow just a bit more when you’re looking at it through a window you haven’t washed in a couple of months.
Staying at home is a lot of tedium. That’s like saying hockey can get bloody, or Kate Middleton has good hair. No kidding. Any job can have a lot of tedium, or a lot of stress, or those days that seem to fly by more quickly than possible, and those that drag more slowly than my 2-year-old when I ask her to put her cup in the fridge. I think the twist about staying at home, though–this full-time parenthood gig–is that it’s just that the location doesn’t change. There’s no downtime in your little car blasting whatever band isn’t appropriate for small ears, with the windows wide open to the fresh air. There’s no adult conversation unless you make the effort to initiate it: i.e., call somebody. You may not see another adult unless you make the effort to get out of your yoga pants and leave the house. What I used to take for granted all requires an extra effort now, a proactive push. I still haven’t gotten used to it.
And no other time reflects this insanity of weirdness than summertime, especially when you’ve got a slight hippie bent like me and David and refuse to schedule your kids’s summers. Our girls are “doing” a handful of classes at their MyGym this summer. Saoirse will be attending Vacation Bible School for a week, primarily because she thinks Easter exists so that she gets extra lollipops. But that’s it. We want the time and money available for the simple stuff, like swimming and playing and even being bored, and the fun stuff, like amusement parks and day trips to the lake. Should Saoirse be playing soccer all summer, or should we have signed her up for ballet or karate? I dunno. She’s only four. It goes against the grain of our community, maybe the mindset of modern parenthood in general, but there are only going to be so many days where we can decide on the spur of the moment to meet up with a friend in a city an hour away. There will only be so many rainy days where we get to lie around bored, until we decide to finger paint and bake cookies and watch a cooking show just because we can and there’s nothing else to dooooooo.
I have to admit, though, as a former teacher who needs some sort of structure in her life, this is hard. It’s easy to let the morning slip into the afternoon. It’s hard to have to organize yet another playdate just so I get to talk to my friends, dammit.
It’s just tedium. Day in, day out, where someone is your boss, whether that boss is 54 or 4. But it is what it is, and it can be so good. I took the girls to our local pool today, silently swearing at the amount of traffic on the road when a) we have a perfectly good pool sitting in our backyard, and b) there’s also a perfectly good public pool two seconds from my house but oh no I had to join this one because that’s where my friends go.
There were very few people there today, most likely because it was approximately 67 degrees when we got there with a wind like an Artic breeze. The girls had a ball, though, splashing around in the children’s pool, meeting new “friends” (though I don’t think one little boy appreciated Quinn asking him about his “boobie” and then trying to grab at his nipple. Please tell me she’s getting it out of her system before high school). I was bored out of my mind, of course. Many of my friends have new babies, and are overwhelmed by the mere idea of facing a pool with an infant and two rowdy children. Others have gone elsewhere, have made the (intelligent, common sense) decision to join a place closer to their homes. David called on his way to lunch from an appointment. I was sitting on a blanket, under a blue sky, by myself, watching my kids play. And I vented a little about the tedium. Silly, right?
I will never get these days back. There will be a day when I may have another, actual paying, job, that both enriches my brain and makes me want to poke my eye out with a Sharpie. There may be a day when I have all the time in the world to sit around on the front porch, drink coffee, work a crossword puzzle. I have absolutely no idea what the future holds. But right now, I’m a mom, who is a mom, morning, noon, and night, who feeds her children three square meals a day plus two snacks, who tries to blog or write or pay bills while one child naps and one watches a DVR’d episode of Sid the Science Kid. I’m a mom who goes to bed early to try to exercise before the house wakes up, a mom who has to remember sometimes that her husband is her partner, and not just someone who has a bunch of work to do when he gets home and eats lunch out and is in charge of mowing the lawn and shocking the pool. I’m a mom who gets bored, terribly bored, with the routine, who insisted we take a week’s vacation later this summer because I just have to get away from here even though we should still, I guess, be on the lookout for a new home, maybe, who thinks that sometimes, all I need is a day to myself or a night out with friends–if they all didn’t stop moving away–and all is realigned again. It’s all tedium. We always need a change, a tweak, some nutmeg to spice up the lasagna even though I still think that’s a gross culinary trick.
I got to take my girls to the pool today. I get to swim with them in ours tomorrow. I can call friends when I want, because they don’t care if the dog sheds faster than we can vacuum. And I don’t even like eating out constantly, because it gets old after awhile. I’m just thinking too much today. Too much laundry, too many errands to run, too much, too many, always. I shouldn’t be complaining. I’ve a cousin who’s courageously fighting cancer so she can have more days like this with her husband and toddler boy. I think of her so often, and I shouldn’t be complaining. I’ve got what I’ve always wanted, even though I didn’t know I wanted it, even though I said I’d never want it. I’m so annoyed with myself right now, but it is what it is. This is my world. It’s what I know. And frankly, there’s not much I would change, other than to maybe keep my friends from moving away from me and have more “date nights” with that husband I don’t see nearly enough. Big deal.
I think it’s time to wash the windows again. This mama’s view needs to stay a little clearer.