Friday, February 6, 2009

Sisters are Doing It for Themselves

"But oh, in these times of change / you know that it's no longer true / So we're comin' out of the kitchen / 'cause there's something we forgot to say to you."

I had made so many plans for my yearlong maternity leave. The baby and I were going to spend hours in the craft room; she would play quietly and happily on the bed while I caught up on long-neglected albums and scrapbooks. We were going to go to aquacise on Tuesdays, mama-and-baby yoga on Wednesdays, and have lunch out with Daddy one day a week. She was going to nap for a couple of solid hours every day so I could post on my blog religiously.

Now, with only four months left before I go back to work, there are even more albums to catch up on instead of less, and a baby who most certainly does not play quietly nor happily on any bed. We've only been to mama-and-baby yoga twice because classes start at 9:30 AM and neither of us is a morning person. Button and me, we like to get our sleep on. In fact, we stopped going to aquacise when her nap schedule changed. We're lucky if we have lunch out with anyone one day a month, much less with her Daddy one day a week. And here I am, posting on my blog for the first time in nearly two months, because I finally chose to do this instead of folding the laundry or emptying the dishwasher while Diana naps. Priorities change.

I do wish that I had more time for crafts. [What a privileged First World complaint, eh? Not "I wish my family wasn't starving." or "I wish the bombings would stop." but "I wish I could glue shit together more often."] Tuesday nights were supposed to be my craft nights, but by the time Dusty gets home and I make dinner and we have dinner and I get Diana to bed, I'm too exhausted to hold a glue stick upright. My sister and I have made a pact to retire to the same nursing home so we can scrapbook together when we're 80. We won't know who the hell the people are or what's going on in the photos, but we'll have a great time trying to figure it out. "Is this my baby girl or yours?" "I think that's a boy." "Oh. Well, ain't he pretty?"

Almost all my creativity right now is being channeled into parenting and homemaking, and that's okay. In fact, some days it's better than okay, it's fun. I'm always experimenting with what foods I can prepare for myself and Dusty that Diana can also eat with little change in ingredients. I'm constantly on the lookout for best practices in parenting, whether it be the least painful way to get her to sleep through the night [We found what works for us. Yay!] or the funniest song to sing with her while we're in the car [Bingo was his name-o!]. I may be on leave from my job at BioWare, but I'm on the clock 24 hours a day at home. And the save points are quite far apart in this game, baby.

I have a newfound respect, nay, admiration for housewives of the 1950s, women who cooked all meals, cleaned the entire house, and raised children with no help from their husbands. Women like me who grew up in the post-feminist era were taught to reject that lifestyle, and break free of the pearls and perfection once expected of us. We were to step outside of the kitchen and into the bigger, greater world. I am proud that we are able to make choices not available to our mothers and grandmothers, but for some of us, stepping out of the kitchen so completely meant that when we chose to step back in, we were overwhelmed. I know there have been many, many times in the last seven months when I have become frustrated because taking care of the baby and the house all day meant I had no time to take care of me. And I'm one of the lucky ones whose husband helps. I can't imagine how to do this without him.

When I go back to work in just 120-odd days [too soon!], I'll look back fondly on this year as the time I learned how to be a homemaker and mother. I learned how to shop and cook meals for a family instead of a couple. I'm learning how to balance keeping a clean and tidy house and keeping a clean and tidy mind. I'm setting boundaries for myself and my child so she and I both know at which point she ends and I begin. It may be two more weeks or months before I can post on this blog again or pick up another glue stick, but that's a choice I will make when I get to it.

"Sisters are Doing It for Themselves" by Annie Lennox
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