This weekend, while listening to the CBC, I heard a radio clip from way back in the day. The clip was from a show for women that talked about things such as entertaining with a little history thrown in. This clip was from an easter-time show and she was explaining the history of the Easter Bonnet. The way I remember it, it had to do with starting spring off fresh, wearing new clothes.
What really struck me about the show was that it wasn't lame or patronizing, it was interesting and informative. The prevailing theory seems to be that anything about "housewifery" and the joys and struggles housewives experience is a little lame. Dorky, even.
Maybe it is just me, I didn't do much of anything before I had kids. I don't have a career to "go back to", I don't even have a figure to get back (been thick and squishy for years), I really didn't have much of anything going for me. What I did do was have fun. Well, I suppose it was fun, I watched movies, smoked pot, ate junk food, occasionally did something artistic, but enjoyed talking more than doing, I shopped a *lot*... Really, I was just passing time before my next big thing (apartment! marriage! kids!) and then as soon as that thing passed I would start waiting for the next one.
That waiting rarely included cleaning, or cooking, or even bill paying. I did those things only when absolutely necessary, they weren't fun and I just wanted to have fun and be happy. Not that I was happy much, but I certainly was lazy.
But now? Well now I am a different person. It started with a very conscious, very difficult quieting of my lazy voice, it took a while, but eventually I replaced lazy voice with responsible voice. Most of the time. Eventually, I would trip up, get a call because I missed this payment, get annoyed because I felt under-appreciated, lose sleep to try and get caught up, fall further behind... fall down the rabbit-hole and return to the lazy way. Let things get so large that I didn't have a choice but deal with them.
It was like a swing, where manic perfectionism was one side and self-absorbed laziness was on the other. Most of the time was spent somewhere in the middle, but constantly on a path to one of those two ends. You know where you were a kid and you would try to swing as high as anyone has ever swung? You remember how where you'd really get going you would feel a jolt and a slight panic would take over in that brief moment where it felt like the swing might just break and send you flying? And then you would begin to fall back down, your bum safely cradled in the rubber and metal of the swing?
Well, that's how the ride felt. And in all my years of swinging, I never did stop trying to go higher. As though if I just tried a little harder, I could break free and actually fly. A funny thing's been happening, though.
When I got sick, when I got that horrid flu that is kicking every one's asses, I had to step off the swing and simply make it through the days. Everything fell away as I simply tried to keep myself as well as possible and meet my family's basic needs. Historically, it would be a situation just like that one that would send me to my lazy spot. But this time, well, this time I just held it together. I knew if I let go of everything, it would be too much to catch back up. So, I asked for help, I did what I could, and I concentrated on getting better.
Once we were well again, we still had a pile of things to deal with, emerging new behaviours, social responsibilities, minds and bodies to nourish, dishes. The day to day stuff. And I am not going to lie to you, it was a hell of a lot of work, but I trudged through. I am still trudging through.
I think what I discovered was that there is no end. Not any time soon, at least. My children will always challenge me, my husband will often frustrate me, life will never be fair or make sense, there will always be something to clean and something to be done. AND THAT'S OKAY.
So, now, I guess I feel more like I'm sitting leisurely on that swing. I can't say I'll always be able to resist the push to see how high I can go, I can't say that I'd want to. What I can say is that I am done spending every moment frantically pumping my legs in the hopes that I'll be the greatest. It will never happen, there will always be someone out there who is better at something than I am. Well, not always. No one will ever be as great a mother to my two kids, a given, yes, but not one I intend to take for granted.
If in my 28 years I have ever had a "calling", this is it. I want to be an incredible mother, not to the causal observer, but to my kids. It sure won't be easy, but it should be exciting. How's that for dorky??