Thursday, 11 February 2010

a post in which I have no pressing issues

Gosh it's been a while since I blogged because I had the time, rather than blogged because something really important needed to be said. The loss of digital TV and the gaining of day light saving has essentially freed up my evenings and now that we are getting back to some semblance of normality I find myself with evenings again.

It's not been a conscious decision but I'm really struggling to find anything on TV I want to watch, which is absolutely brilliant. The knitting is suffering a bit, but a small price to pay for the continued progress on getting things sorted, reading her fearful symmetry, and not waking up to the kitchen from hell every morning. I've even started to plan out a few creative ventures.

The difference isn't just time, it's a deliberately slower pace. When I made the decision last year not to increase my weekly allotment of time in at the spanner works, despite Wil's greater allotment of time at child care, I did have some residual guilt. On a rational level I don't think I should have that guilt, what I am doing makes sense in many ways (including financially when you factor in the other work I can do when I am not set in an office routine all the time). But I did feel that guilt and it is at least in part a product of choosing a different way. Even to myself I feel a continual need to justify it.

But let's be honest about what fills so many of those child free, work free hours - today it included being present at child care while Wil had his birthday cake and celebrations. I chatted to his carers and a few other mums and had a little time watching from the sidelines while he played and interacted in that way I so rarely see - when I'm not his point of reference. I then had a chance to shop at the really good green grocer (the one that's not quite so close to home), the super cheap middle eastern food wholesaler and the excellent (and super cheap) butcher next door. I got inspired about a few special meals, bought some exciting ingredients and planned some delicious and fairly healthy family meals. I came home and prepared the makings of the evening meal and bagged up and froze the makings of a few more. I cleaned out and restocked the fridge, did a bit of pantry clean up and organising, washed dishes, paid a few bills, picked up a few toys and made it down to school in time to say hello to a few people before I collected Amy. With dinner well under control I was able to talk to Amy when she got home, which was lucky because she's having a pre-teenager phase at the moment where she lurches from aggressive and surly one minute to teary and tragic the next, throwing herself at couches and beds with exaggerated melodrama and grief and dealing with that is really best done when one is not in a hurry. In the end we played some cards while she ate approximately half her body weight in stewed nectarines (home made of course) and shook in fear from the frequent very loud thunder overhead. And since both dinner and Amy were under control I was able to ring D to say not to worry about getting Wil on the bike in the rain (I even offered to pick him up from work, but he turned me down) and Amy and I drove off in the down pour to get him, stopping for a while so Amy could play with all the little kids, before we came home. A bit of play time, some last minute foods assemblage and there was even space for D and I to walk around the garden in the rain and contemplate water tanks and the like before we ate our salad nicoise and the kids stripped off to go and run around the wet garden. After that there was left over birthday cake (home made of course) and I tossed a big boned shoulder of lamb in to marinate overnight for slow cooking tomorrow. There was time for stories and clearing the table and peaceful goodnights, all in a reasonable timeframe.

It's easy to think that this is normal, ordinary and unremarkable, but the truth is that for working mums this is not the way things usually are. Juggling, multi tasking, cutting corners, making compromises, paying a premium, choosing for convenience and feeling constantly under pressure and in a rush is what constitutes normal. Split second timing, shattered nerves, bad days, fractious relationships and exhaustion creeping in at every turn.

And as we were eating dinner I started to say to D that I achieved nothing today, and it wasn't like I wasted time or read magazines or had a long lunch or chatted on the phone. But of course, of course!, today I achieved exactly what I wanted to achieve. A day in which what needed to get done got done, in which I didn't feel the need to yell or feel uneasy about at least half a dozen of the 'choices' I exercised. A day in which there was time to laugh with the kids, talk through problems, do something to make someone else's day easier, make and eat good food, clean up the mess without feeling resentful and get on top of the domestic burden for the coming days. And that's plenty for one day.

18 comments:

ginevra / occasional glimpses said...

It's a pity that what you did today (preparations, a lot of relationship building) counts as "not achieving" in our society.
I think you shouldn't have to justify it, not even to yourself.

Marie said...

"It's easy to think that this is normal, ordinary and unremarkable, but the truth is that for working mums this is not the way things usually are. Juggling, multi tasking, cutting corners, making compromises, paying a premium, choosing for convenience and feeling constantly under pressure and in a rush is what constitutes normal. Split second timing, shattered nerves, bad days, fractious relationships and exhaustion creeping in at every turn."

Well, that pretty much sums up my existance in 4 lines!! LOL. It would only be worse if I worked full time rather than part-time aswell. Makes you wonder if it's really worth it - but then having a roof over our heads kind of makes it necessary. Such is the way of the world I suppose. *SIGH*

xMx

Di said...

Soooooooo with you on this. Although I have to say I'm a bit uninspired on the food front at the moment. But the rest of it, yeah, I'm right there with you. There is so much that can be achieved on that extra day, that makes home life so much more enjoyable.
(Ha- Google word verification is Yessi. See, even Google agrees!)

Frogdancer said...

I only get those days on the school holidays.

froginthepond said...

Absolutely. Those days are an achievement for me, for so many, many different reasons. And if some of them come together on the one day even that's reason to be grateful and plan for more.

teresa_garcia said...

Hi. I really like your blog and this post, well, I really can relate. I'm so glad you had such a great day and the wisdom to see it as such! Good for you! :)

flowerpress said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!
We shouldn't have to justify it or quantify it but the little voice is always there.
I think the things you achieved in your day are more valuable than anything :-)

Kate said...

Heck, I don't even have children, and half the time my days seem to be filled with rushing and shoving and things half done and done badly.

That extra bit of time to run errands and prepare and THINK about what we are doing, to keep the rush out of the evenings. Priceless.

travellersyarn said...

I couldn't agree with your post more. There are so many reasons why having a smoothly running household makes everyone's life more harmonious. I've been contemplating the seeming evaporation of my ambition - I still like being appreciated for the quality of my work, but the relentless drive to get ahead is gone.

Today I spent 73 minutes on the phone to Telstra getting the phone, internet and TV connected in our new (temporary) house. That's difficult to do while undertaking active child care.

Riches Stitches said...

You will never know how much of an encouragement this post was to me. Thank you.
Regards Jane80)

Ren said...

Lovely post Sooz. I like days like this. Perfect.

beeware said...

Well I think it sound like you achieved some important things today!

Corina said...

Hi
I am envious of your day! I am suffering from the seemingly endless winter here and whilst day dreaming of Spring Cleaning ( I must NOT be well)I can barely muster the energy each day to finish the breakfast dishes. I am waiting for a burst of energy, a mild breeze and a daffodil. In the meantime I finally started my blog! Come see, my very first entry was a photo for you! I love reading your words.
Cheers
Corina

Chris said...

Thanks for a great post. No pressing issues seems a wonderful way to spend a day. I work only 2 days a week, but those days are crammed full, and book-end the week. There seems to be a lot of preparation before them, and such a lot of scraping together after the days I work. When it all gets too much I (guiltily, rarely) take that extra day at childcare, which my partner does not readily agree to. And yet, what you have described is worth its weight in gold. Time, with the children, to not rush, and just let them have my time. I think you have made a very clever choice for your family.

sueeeus said...

You have a gift for articulation, girl. :) I can say from the depth of my heart, that I HEAR you!

Minymo said...

Sorry to pressure you but I'm missing your daily posts:)

toasted said...

Hi. I just happened on your blog and have to say I love this post. When you list all the achievements of a mothering day like this, list all the things you do that are gonna make sure everyone's happy and everything will keep flowing ... well it's a wonder we're frazzled and stressed because we can't remember ALL this detail and feel like we haven't achieved anything when we have actually achieved so much! Here's to remembering that enriching our kids and our family lives is a honking great achievement.

Psylova said...

I think you achieved a lot! I am a work at home part time mum and I wish I achieved that - the elusive not rushing, having the time to savour those moments and enjoy the kids time without having other stresses encroaching. I try to achieve it every day and the days that I actually succeed are pretty rare. I am going to keep this post close by so I can keep reminding myself not to join the rat race and keep plugging away.

Thanks!