My husband is insistent, “Take some time off from the kids,” and with that he shoots out the door to have a far more relaxed and memorable three hours with them than I can ever manage.
As I close the door behind me I scan the landscape in the house and immediately start to stack the dishwasher & hang out the laundry. I’m just going to do these two jobs, then I will take some me time, I think to myself. Even though there is no one around to witness this, but c’mon, who am I kidding? I enjoy getting these little chores.
Thirty minutes later I am still wiping, moving and cleaning. It is already 2:47. OK, I will keep going until 3:00 then I must stop and get on with really enjoying myself. But 3pm only gives me thirteen more minutes of this chore based hell and I need twenty to make sure I’ve really scratched that domestic itch. But to stop at 3:07 seems like an arbitrary and upsetting thing to do. I vow to do chores until 3:15 so as to keep things neat AND exciting. Why am I such a loser when I have child free time?
I do manage to stop choring eventually and decide to fire up the laptop to work on* (*start from zero) my award winning best selling novel/award winning screen play. First I just need to tidy up the internet a little (Facebook perusing, Pinterest, Instagram) then I can really get going. But wait, I’m only 200k points away from my new Honey Bear Winnie the Pooh Tsum Tsum game. If you are unfamiliar with Tsum Tsum, think Candy Crush but waaaaay more addictive and more pointless.
Intervention comes in the form of a photo emailed over from my husband. Both children are smiling coming down the uppy downy slide. For crying out loud. My son is too wet to do that slide when I”m around and my daughter too busy throwing herself kamikaze into the ball pit. I assume he has applied a psychological filter to the picture but also make a mental note to add guilt and self loathing to my list of things to do while enjoying my me-time.
I respond; it’s great here too! I miss you guys and put a smiley face. They don’t get back to me.
And that is totally cool as I have the kitchen drawer to re-organise (IDEA: a fun app for mums instead of Candy Crush could just be Kitchen Drawer Tidy where you drag and drop virtual crumbs to your heart’s content) as well as some non urgent work emails to tend to and a moisturiser sample to apply.
I should write, take exercise or call my mother. I could listen to light jazz, go the cinema or at least look at websites where Mummies and Daddies kiss and cuddle but I can’t be bothered. I’m the first to defend my identity despite being a mother, but maybe that’s gone, maybe I’ve lost my “ness” and I’ve just morphed into a nebulous, hopeless blob of motherhood.
I’m reading a wonderful book at the moment on Happiness that categorises the world into two types of workers; The Marathoners and The Sprinters. There is a third, dark type that the author doesn’t like to talk about – The Procrastinators. And that’s me. I’m one of life’s do-ers once I’m in the throes of activities, but I just cannot quite commit when given a vast expanse of time. I haven’t lost my identity, I am just a pro at frittering away time. And that’s why I spend so much time with the children – they keep you in the moment and make you feel good about that.
They return (I am guiltily, shamefully folding laundry as they enter the house). No one notices the tidy house and I’m pretty sure my husband would not have done any chores had the roles been reversed. They are rosy cheeked, excited, zipped into coats and full of noise. It fills the hallway in a bubble of boisterous talk and boots and buggy.
“You’re on!” he tags me as he goes upstairs. “We had fun. They’re thirsty and tired, maybe a bit cranky, and we haven’t eaten. And I think the baby needs changing. Oh and I think we lost bunny.” As he wanders upstairs he calls behind him “I’m going for a nap, a read of my book and a run. Did you have fun?”
I smile weakly, “yep”. And get on with the job in hand.