Posts Tagged ‘balance’

Life-Life Balance

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

I have discovered a secret about motherhood that I’m a little worried might not ACTUALLY be a secret. Maybe every single other mom already knows and I’ve just been lalalalaing my way through the past 3+ years.

Having a schedule makes me better at my job.

I was going to say “makes me a better mom” but it’s more than that. I’m better at managing my time, I’m better at feeding everyone healthy food, I’m more interested in playing blocks and reading stories, my house is in better shape and I sleep better at night. A schedule is like the opposite of kryptonite to this SuperMom. Sunlight. Sunlight is what made Superman strong, right?

After I left/lost my job when I was pregnant with Evan, I realized I needed to fill my time with something besides couch naps and daytime TV. I spent hours redecorating the house, painting the entire second floor and third floor. I blogged like it was my job. I baked a lot. But “busy” is not the same as a schedule and giving birth made it worse. At home with a newborn I was just trying to SURVIVE. It took almost 5 months before I could even commit to showing up at a breastfeeding support group regularly. Since then we’ve added a lot of activities and favorite places – Stroller Strides, gymnastics, the zoo, the aquarium, playdates, whatever – but none of those are mandatory and/or took up more than a couple hours a week.

But now we have SCHOOL. And don’t tell me it’s not mandatory – my kid might read this blog one day and I have told him quite firmly going to school is The Law and Mr. Policeman would be very angry if he doesn’t go. It structures our week. It gives me a few hours during which Getting Shit Done is much, much easier so Shit Gets Done. Laundry, check! Cleaning under the couch, check! Setting up the DVR for all the fall shows, check! Organizing the kids’ dressers with fall transition clothes and dropping off old, outgrown, non-favorite stuff at Goodwill! I’ve only got 2.5 hours so prepare for some of the fastest sock-sorting you’ve ever seen. I could win the sock-sorting OLYMPICS.

For the first time in more than 3 years I have to say “Let me check my calendar” before committing to stuff because I might actually have somewhere to BE at 11 am on a Tuesday. My phone is set up with alerts like “bake for bake sale” and “preschool open house” and “switch laundry to dryer” and I love it. When I wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose – especially a purpose that requires me to put on pants and be out the door in 2 hours – I don’t get to 5 pm and think “oops, there goes another day”.

I suspect this is part of why people say being a stay-at-home-mom is so hard. It IS hard to spend your entire day taking care of small humans who don’t appreciate it in any way. It’s hard and thankless and frustrating and repetitive. It’s easy to fall into a “who cares?” pattern when it comes to the state of your hair and your floors and your life. I’m not saying there aren’t amazing, super, awesome, fun moments too. There are. Every day. But if you look at parenting as one big long stretch, those first few years as a SAHM are an endless blob of unstructured time, with days and nights often running right into each other and pants being worn for far too many days in a row.

Maybe I’m still in the preschool honeymoon period and pretty soon I’ll realize all this driving back and forth and remembering snack for Special Helper Day and avoiding PTA phone calls is for the birds, but until then I’m really enjoying only dragging ONE screaming child around Target and mopping the floors more than once every decade.

…Although right now I’m using the time mostly to deal with the Saddest Teething Baby Even In The Whole World Who Is Getting Her Two Year Molars Or At Least I Hope So Because Otherwise She’s Just Turned Into A Huge Jerk.

caroline in an apple orchard

Don’t let her fool you – she flounced off and pouted under this tree for like 10 minutes because I wouldn’t let her eat a rotten apple off the ground. WORST. MOTHER. EVER.

 

It doesn’t count as making dinner if all you make is a phone call

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Dinners in our house fall into two three categories:

1. Real meals using recipes I’ve marked in cookbooks/torn out of magazines/found on food porn websites and involve complicated grocery lists, several pots and pans, and careful measuring.
2. Stuff with ground beef.
3. Fast food.

I’ve never considered myself much of a cook, even when it comes to casual family type meals. I’m intimidated by all aspects of cooking, from chopping vegetables to knowing if the meat is done, to adding a “pinch” of anything. Cooking is art – the balance, the nuance, the improvisation – and art has never been my strong suit. Baking, however, is science, and baking is my friend. It’s exact, it’s chemistry, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 40 minutes at 350 degrees. I can bake anything you can write a recipe for, even if I end up using a wine bottle as a rolling pin and a light bulb powered oven.

So my anxiety levels always get very high right around 4 pm when it’s time to start thinking about what’s for dinner. I’ve tried making meal plans, with one epic trip to the grocery store for a week’s worth of ingredients, but invariably something isn’t in stock or the potatoes start molding before I get to them or no one really FEELS like having chicken again so why don’t we just order a pizza…and the whole thing falls apart. I’ve tried deciding what’s for dinner at 3 pm and making the Stop & Shop run once E gets home and I can pop in and out without the baby, but I always come home with a cart full of avocados, Pad Thai in a box, brownie mix, and oranges. Which, surprisingly, are NOT the ingredients for tacos. Or anything else. So one of us runs out and grabs burgers and fries and I sit on the couch hating myself for eating that junk again.

My other obstacle to cooking is my super picky husband. If you’ve ever tried to eat a meal with him, you probably already know how he feels about mushrooms (FUNGUS ISN’T FOOD), which rules out about half the recipes in both of my trusty, easy to follow Rachel Ray cookbooks. He also hates olives (no Mediterranean food), curry (no Indian food), pretty much anything green (no vegetables) and soup. Yes, soup. And chili. Seriously, if you ever consider marrying someone, FIND OUT IF THEY EAT SOUP before accepting a proposal. I’ve done a pretty good job expanding E’s previously even more ridiculously limited diet – for example, he now eats fish – but nothing is more frustrating than making a nice dinner and discovering he hates it after two bites. A few times I’ve just made whatever I felt like making and told E “if you don’t like it, don’t eat it” and left him to forage for himself…but I always feel guilty because dinner falls under my tasks per our very delicately negotiated household responsibility list and feeding both of us shouldn’t be that hard. But my cookbooks have all been read and bookmarked and my list of family approved recipes is still woefully short.

It’s times like this that I really admire my mother and her ability to get a home cooked meal on the table every single night, without a single frozen lasagna in my memories. The only chance of that happening in my house is if I win the lottery and hire a personal chef. Or if I legally adopt the pizza delivery guy.



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