Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh, sad wasteland!

How many times do I need to remember that "blogging in my head" will not actually lead to, you know, words on the page? While my mental alter ego has been industriously writing pithy posts for your amusement, the real me has been sadly less well-engaged. Not that I don't have reason. TEG is in India for the next three weeks--his mother grew ill while on vacation and is still there. He needs to help with her therapy and to bring her home when she is ready. She is MUCH better, though, so big sighs of relief all around.

But...this has all meant that I am living through one of my big fears, that of being a single mother.

It is not *quite* as bad as I thought. Oh, sure, I am tired of being on duty all the time. But having TEG gone has actually given me some space to think about our relationship. While I adore him, I don't always adore *myself* while with him. I spend a lot more time running around doing scut work while he is home, in part because he generates a lot of mess for a grown man, but mostly because I want to prove to him that I am not slacking off, that I work hard even though I don't work for money.

I realized, again, that I don't feel equal in our marriage because I am not earning money. I feel like I have to hold my house and my mothering to a sterling example so that I don't get accused of being lazy. The phrase, "Why isn't everything perfect? It's not like you do ANYTHING else?" hangs over me. The thing is...I know this is (mostly) my own stuff. So how do I move past it? How do I convince myself that I am a fully accredited partner in this marriage, even if the house gets a little dusty while I try to write? Because, dear bloggy friends, I am about to let you in on a little secret.

I know that I am doing all this because I am scared. I am procrastinating, and beating myself up about the house, and about the fact that Madam isn't doing precalculus yet (you should meet the kids at her toddler class--smarties, all!), because it's easier to use all of time-honored reasons to pummel myself than face the truth. Which is, of course, that I am loster-than-lost with my writing, and I don't even know where to START again.

Well, THIS went in an unexpected direction. I just got that tingle, though, the one that tells me that I have just hit on something *true*.

You all are better than therapy.

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Blogger Deirdre said...

I wonder why we put that burden on ourselves about "pulling our weight" when we know darn well we're doing a good job. And then we put a price tag on it too. I'd love to stay home and do all that domestic stuff, but I've come to realize that being dependent scares the crap out of me.

I wish I had some nugget of wisdom to offer, something about what a valuable job you're doing right now, but I can only state my firm belief that you have nothing to prove or justify or beat yourself over.

So sorry to hear your MIL is unwell, and glad to know she's getting better.

6:54 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger Frida said...

Better than therapy indeed. We are always here, always listening and unlike my therapist (who always looks a bit stunned by what I've just told her) we are always ready with a comment!

My comment - a tidy house is some times a symptom of a more important task being put off. At least that's what I tel myself when the house is a mess but I've helped my friend out with the babysitting or got another few pages down.

I don't know much about writing but I know that there is only one place to start. At the page. With a modest and achievable writing goal for this one day. Right?

9:35 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

OK sit down and get ready for some tough love. This is ALL your sh!*. You're putting this pressure all on you. Now that I've got my other blog going and I've been researching the stories of teenagers who've done horrible things and ruined lives (yes -- this is extreme, but hear me out), believe me when I tell you that the vast majority of them did not come from loving homes, nor did they have full time parenting to instill in them the love of themselves and compassion for others that somehow ended up missing from their psyches. Raising a decent human being is a far more important endeavor than making a buck and I thank you for it. xo

12:50 AM, February 28, 2008  
Anonymous fern said...

I'm so sorry you feel blue, but it's great that you're aware of your thoughts. It's only you that can change the way you feel about everything going on in your home, but for what it's worth, I know for a fact that you are doing a SUPERB job. You are a great mother and wife, and you enrich your family's life everyday. You do not have to prove anything, and they are LUCKY to have you.


7:35 PM, February 28, 2008  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

What you are writing about here is a *very* normal and common thought! If you can raise your girl well and get a few lines on a page I'd say that is MORE than enough for a life. It is such a personal thing...for me, I am moving out of the "at-home and part-time work" world into "full-time-working-for-pay-out-there" one. I found that the working part-time when my children were small made me feel more balanced in terms of "equity"...but, I've cycled in and out of the workforce--and that's a great way to think of it. You are on this side of the fence right now...who knows where you'll end up? It is so much more fluid than we realize! Just hang in there...

2:13 PM, February 29, 2008  
Blogger Becca said...

I think it's writing that's also good therapy - at least that's what I've so often found when I start out writing about one thing, and then these fascinating insights start to emerge, sometimes completely unexpectedly.

I so wish women could get free of this notion that child rearing is not vital, important, valuable work and . In my opinion, it's the cornerstone of society and we all need to take it more seriously. Rest assured, you (nor Madame) will ever regret the time you've spent with her in these early years. It's a great investment in her future.

10:18 PM, February 29, 2008  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

I'm glad to hear TEG's mother is doing okay! As for "pulling your weight," mothering is enough of a job without throwing in perfect housework. This isn't the 1950s, thank god. Personally, I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is just as big a job as a "paying" one at some office (and usually with much more profound consequences for doing a good job or a poor one), and anything extra -- cooking, housework -- should be a 50/50 split.

And, writing is a "real job" too! It's just one that gets paid on the back end, so you have to have time to DO it, in order to get paid for it later!

These years must be the hardest, right? I mean, I'm guessing, not being a mom yet, but I imagine balance will come later. But, as important as your mom job is, your job of being yourself is important too, and not losing yourself in the identity of mom. I know a lot of moms would disagree with me here, but I don't personally feel being a "mom" is an entire identity. I don't think it's enough, and I don't think anyone should ask us to make it our entire self, or give up our own dreams, though circumstances may require us to put them on hold for a while.

Wishing you the best, M!

2:38 PM, March 02, 2008  
Blogger Melba said...

You know I know exactly how you feel.
Lets work on some strategies together ~ not to feel less anymore because what we are doing is IMPORTANT AND WORTHY. just as worthy as their paychecks. Even if they don't always believe it WE have to believe it. You know I am saying this to both of us because we really are in the same boat on this one. I think some men just naturally believe that it is a 50/50 job (parenting and house work) and some don't. Our men have many other wonderful things about them~they just need some education on this one topic. or maybe they don't. We just need to be OK with it. We need to KNOW it is OK for us to be home. It is more than OK. It is a Good thing.
Love you!
Talk to you soon!

7:05 PM, March 02, 2008  
Blogger Jessie said...

i'm gonna keep this short and sweet since you are going to call me back after changing madam's diaper. and so, for now, i will just say that i love you! and that you are super magnificent and you are well on your way to realizing that for yourself sooner than you realize! are you ready for that? i think so. ;)

11:49 AM, March 03, 2008  
Blogger bee said...

i like what everyone has said here, but what resonates for me is what frida "a tidy house is a symptom of a more important task being put off" and delia "it is so much more fluid than we realize" and jessie "you are super-magnificent" are all saying.

what is a problem always for me is realizing that most of the limitations that i perceive that i have are self-imposed. i don't HAVE to do most anything, and yet i hold myself up to this "sterling" standard (good word, btw) that is always just out of reach. what i'm trying to do is aerate that...tell myself that there is always a way out.

you are so valuable, m.

11:03 PM, March 03, 2008  
Blogger Amber said...

Hmmmmm, yeah yeah yeah. Me too. I really felt like this when I was first staying home. I'm much more over it now. Although it still sneaks up on me. But, you know, having more than one small child will kind of cure you of the "perfect parent" thing. It's just too hard. If I don't forget one of them in the supermarket cart and leave them in the parking lot, it's all good. LOL

Lighten up. What we do is not the same kind of thing they do at work, but it is just as hard in many ways, harder in others, and easier in other ways. It's just different. But it is important. Really important! And NObody is perfect at their job all the time, so why should you be?


10:57 PM, March 11, 2008  
Blogger debra said...

mothering is certainly neither validated nor supported in this culture. And it is hard work. Period.
So give yourself a (psychic) break and a hug.
After lots of years raising our daughters (now almost 20 and 16) I am back in the studio (pottery) sometimes. I have written about mothers' art on my blog. The legacy we leave, as Lisa said, is healthy kids who know they are loved.
Glad to have found your blog

1:56 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger a cat of impossible colour said...

I know you wrote this post ages ago, but I just wanted to say that I completely understand. I get that feeling too. I don't have kids, but I do work full-time on my writing from home, and my husband supports me financially. We've only been doing this since the beginning of the year, and I feel so guilty when the house isn't perfect and I'm not the perfect wife because ... well ... I'm home all day, and what else have I got to do? The not-earning-money thing is so hard as well. Like you, I know that a lot of my guilt is tangled up in MY stuff rather than my husband's, and he has said he is happy to support me while I write. But it's a difficult thing to get past.

Anyway, hope things are looking brighter. And thank you for the link to that Indian music video, I laughed so much that the cat got annoyed with me and wandered away. And it takes a lot to make our cat wake up and move.

6:36 PM, April 20, 2008  

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