Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Be really good at 2 things

Last week my horoscope in the local paper told me to stop trying to be perfect and be really good at two things. I immediately thought of my new quest to become really good at doing laundry (no joke) since my housekeeper quit, kept reading, and no word of a lie, the horoscope specifically said this did not apply to laundry.

My husband has complained about my laundry lack of skills for a long time. I never remember to put things in the dryer and when I do, I never remember to take them out. I only in the last two weeks started pretreating stains, so all of our clothes have little spots and splotches on them. I fold like I never worked in a clothing store and had to fold things using a folding board. I don't know which things to hang, dry flat, and put in the dryer. I tried using this environmentally friendly laundry soap in the hopes of curing my itchy skin and doing one for the environment but our clothes started stinking so we're back to Tide. It generally takes about two weeks for clothes that went into the laundry to cycle back up the stairs to the appropriate rooms as as much as I hate folding laundry, I also hate carrying it upstairs.

When the housekeeper left I wallowed in denial for a while, then started a couple test runs. First I tried doing laundry every day, which totally sucked. Then I tried doing all of it once a week, which was completely impossible. I'm back to every day, which still totally sucks, but at least the clothes are being cleaned. A couple of days before the horoscope reading I decided maybe I could embrace the laundry. I started soaking items, checking shirts for stains, and scrubbing the bottoms of the children's socks with a laundry soap bar. Sunlight. I still hate it, but I was getting better at it.

But this horoscope has thrown me into a quandary. If I can only be good at two things, the two things that pop into my head immediately are be a good person to have a relationship with (i.e. wife, parent, friend) and be an even better writer. I like how I have my priorities down. If I become too good at laundry obviously one of these things will suffer, and we both know which one it ain't gonna be.

I think I just had an epiphany. Seriously, no joke. I just now got the whole problem. See, I've been on mat leave three times now. First time was cut short and there was never a doubt I would be returning to work, so I simply embraced mat leave and then kissed it good-bye when it was done. Second time I hemmed and hawed about working, and never quit; working contracts the whole time I was off and then going back to work when baby was eighteen months old. Now this third time I'm not going back. Not only that, I'm not doing anything on the side either. No work emails, no claiming anything on my income tax. For the first time since I was a child I had nothing to submit for tax season. The accountant even phoned to be sure.

I'm dragging this out. Sorry, backstory is always key to frontstory making sense.

So I'm not working, and have no idea if or when I will ever return. And so what is my job? My job, my purpose, my everyday, is to be the Housewife. Skills include multitasking, cooking, cleaning, consoling, disciplining, helping, volunteering, organizing. Duties are all encompassing and never, ever ending. And so, I should be good at all this stuff and love that I have the privilege of doing all this stuff.

Except here is the problem. I don't love the stuff that comes along with housewifery. Sure, I love the fact that if we aren't feeling great we can all stay in our pajamas. I love the coffees with my friends, the non-rushed grocery store trips, the fact that if the school calls I can be there. That I don't have to go to work sick, that my kids don't have to go to daycare sick, that my biggest worry is what the fuck to have for supper.

The problem is that my biggest worry is what the fuck to have for supper.

These are luxury problems. I get it. And the thing I also get now, that I may not have understood completely before, is that there is no answer. No way I can change the person I am and suddenly embrace the role and start meal planning and using colour coded calendars.

And you know what? While I care, that my two things to be really good at do not include the main point of my whole life right now, I also am savvy enough to know that this whole housewife thing is not the end-all and be-all of my existence. What matters to me are good relationships and writing, and the rest of it will get done. My kids perhaps won't rave about my skills, but really, that's just fine with me.

I'm the only person I have to answer to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

dark side of the moon

This doesn't matter to you at all. It doens't matter who you are, or why you are here, or if you ever come back. It doesn't matter if you're not here. And it doesn't matter if that makes no sense to you, if of course, you're here.

It matters for me. To me. About me, around me, and only to me.

Weird, typing that. It is truth, honest to god, lipsmackin, for-real truth, but that truth still has the power to make me more than slightly uncomfortable. Because when is it truth that it doesn't matter about you, and it matters about me?

I've been through tough times in my life, but if you dig deep enough, so have we all. And, not to gloss it up with shine, our tough times in many instances are luxury problems. But I'm no philosopher or student of psychology or sociology (so much so that I obviously don't know which of those two would know the answers to this), but whatever is tough for you is tough. We measure by our own litmus test and what is tough is tough is tough. I think I may elaborate on this idea later, I think perhaps I am being unclear, but for now it will suffice that I know what I am talking about, and it doesn't matter if you do or do not.

Back to that again, and so soon.

I had a nice big bump on the road after Charlie. It had been veritable smooth sailing for so long I didn't believe it was happening. Chalked it all up to happenstance, to occasional, to this too shall pass. But it didn't fucking pass. And I was choking to death in sadness, choking on the realization that something fundamental had shifted. More than shifted. Been earthquaked and everything had been reshaped and there were enormous craters that I would have to navigate. It took a long time to cross. Perhaps still crossing? Perhaps.

I've always said that creativity comes with ... not a curse, that's not right. Obviously it's not true, I haven't always said it. Truth: I've always thought it, and maybe occasionally implied or inferred that creativity comes with a bit of crazy. Creative walks on the dark side of the moon. And I spent a good deal of time on the dark side lately.

The hopeful, the thing to which I cling (not sure if I like how that sounds but that's okay, it works), is that without the dark side of the moon there is no bright side. There is no good without bad. Dichotomy. Don't know how many papers I wrote on that concept in university, but I don't think I forreal got it till now.

I need a break now. This is hard and I am crying and I need to take a minute to breath. It's good to be back and I am back, and I don't care if you care or know. I'm back on my terms and my terms state that I must spend time here before I can spend time There. That creative comes by baring some, by honesty and digging and peeling, and that I can't go There without doing the work.

Year one

Mark the day. The baby is 1 year old. Meaning that in a flash, as per usual, a year of days has passed. Days of new, nights of sitting in the chair, feet on the stool, holding the best thing that there is in the world.

Clarity comes in strange ways. For me, it was this weekend, away from the baby. Watching the babies perched, on dads and moms, in the hotel, the airport. The babies, so sweet. So very, very, incredibly perfect. All of them, their bare feet baby feet, their eyes watching.

We are so lucky, to have babies in our world. And I am so lucky, to have my little baby sleeping upstairs, snug and happy to have her momma back. Happy to be held, to snuggle, to walk holding on tightly now, but now so soon.

Coulda been a princess, yes. It is true. But this is good, too, no?