I don’t know myself anymore. I used to love anything housewife-y/Martha-ish (I got teased about it a lot), like cooking and baking, having an impeccably organized house, crafting, sewing, planning the garden months in advance, forcing all my own indoor bulbs which would make M sneeze all winter long… To me those things have always been the little “extra” that gave life its flavor. I would make personalized Halloween favor boxes for my neighbors’ kids, complete with their name in cut-out and dramatic shiny black satin ribbon bows. We would always have fresh bread, cookies, muffins, and hosting a dinner party was a real fun opportunity to try new things.
Now, mhh, not so much. I still bake muffins because I think it’s silly to pay for sugar-loaded industrial cakey confections, but I grudge every step of the way. I take a lot of shortcuts, which makes Martin laugh because I used to be so anti “semi-homemade cooking”. More often than not, I simply resent having to make dinner because it means that I have to constantly put my son aside, yes, the very son I haven’t seen all day and who doesn't understand why he can’t just play with the mommy he has missed.
Having people over to eat, I’m ashamed to admit, has lost all its enjoyment and is now simply a complicated hassle I would very much prefer to do without. I feel bad about it all, because it’s not that I’ve lost interest in food, just that it would be so nice not having to prepare it all the time. This is not a plea for Martin to cook more: he can and he does cook, but day-to-day it’s just not practical and sensible, since he usually gets home about an hour after us.
And it’s not just the food that has fallen to the wayside: mail goes unread, recycling piles up, we find ourselves running out of things constantly, including diapers, for which you’re probably well aware of, there’s absolutely no viable alternative. It seems I’m always lugging home family-size packs of six giant Kleenex boxes, but then, the next day we’re out again. Being ever tired and slightly absent-minded, I’ll run to the store to buy lip balm and a pacifier clip, only to return home and realize that I didn’t buy the ketchup M specifically asked me to get, -three times over the past two weeks. There’s a saying in French that translates loosely as “stabbing the water with a sword,” which may sound a little weird, but you get the idea of something both forceful and difficult and, yet, completely useless.
I don’t check my banking as often as I should, laundry gets done in the worst possible way: it spans over four days and in the end I’m so tired of seeing the clothes pile in the basement bathroom that I mix colors that shouldn’t go together, and put my lingerie in the dryer only to have it wrecked. And of course by the time it’s done, the hampers are full again. My home is NOT under control, and me no like it. All because of a little person who has next to no table manners, and who, let’s be frank, stinks sometimes. This little person who in himself pretty much provides me with the little "extra" flavor from life these days.
Take house cleaning for example. Even in my more domestic days, I used to loathe it. My own personal vision of hell includes many things (Celine Dion for instance), but it certainly entails having to clean a bathroom over and over again. I've always been conflicted about it, because you know, I should have been great at this task, the ultimate domestic symbol of holding it together.
Now that we have the best reason in the world to keep the house clean (preferring that our child is not covered in dust mites, hair and dried bits of food), I can’t even tell you how much I hate it. I would rather go through childbirth and have my wisdom teeth removed again simultaneously, without any pain killer, EVERY DAY than clean the house. I do love the wonderful feeling of seeing our house spotless though, even if it only lasts for a few hours. So after careful consideration and intense, competent negotiation,
we I decided to hire a maid when LP was a few months old. She only came twice a month, which is clearly not enough for the house to remain clean all the time, but oh, those were the good days. Coming home from work when she had been there was simply heaven.
Well now, the maid is no more. It was expensive and to tell you the truth she was a bit weird (let’s say that she never really seemed to understand who was paying who in this business deal). There was truly no time or effort available in my schedule to deal with a diva-like maid, so bye-bye. But unfortunately, sad, sad, sad days ensued. I sometimes fear that having a dirty house might be a reason for social services to come and take away your child.
Since then, we’ve made two completely pathetic attempts at house cleaning, which both resulted in utter failure. Inevitably, M and I end up slightly mad at each other, and LP ends up hysterically crying on the floor because he’s frightened by the vacuum cleaner (which he’d never really heard before, since the maid was doing it when we weren’t there) and he simply won’t be ignored for that long. I also just can’t get over the idea of wasting my so precious, so scarce free time.
How do people do this? Everyone does so it’s pretty clear that the problem is me, that I’m completely clueless and simply terrible at successful multitasking. Are there mysterious and magical tips I’m not aware of? How can you handle everything, a career, raising a happy family, keeping your relationship alive, taking care of a house, having a social life, working out, pursuing hobbies? I manage, but most of the time just barely, and I usually feel that I am only mildly successful. And the worst is I know I have it (relatively) easy, with one only kid (I see truly zen pregnant mothers of three all the time!), a job which isn’t really that stressful, rigid or time-consuming, and financial stability.
On her daily live show, I once heard someone tell Martha how much she disliked house cleaning, and ask for tips on how to make it more bearable. She responded that there wasn’t any other solution than the woman changing her outlook on it, because it’s simply got to be done. I know she's right, but my hatred/ineptness is way too strong. So clever, that Martha. I know she has help, but the amount of things she can simultaneously manage truly puts me to shame. Is it one of these things where you either have it or you don’t?