"Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless" - B.Waterson

April 21, 2008

I've recently discovered a blog called Career and Kids (one of the few so-called "mommy blogs" out there that I really feel like is written by someone who shares my challenges and frustrations) and their post from last night struck a particular chord with me: Busy Weekend Sabotages Chores.

This weekend, in particular, was a little too full (next weekend is that way, too, for different reasons), made fuller by the fact that Josh was away all day Saturday and E was stricken by some sort of particularly icky stomach bug on Saturday afternoon. (It struck while we were on our way home from the playground, too. Poor little guy - he was wet right through his diaper and I ended up changing him on a breezy park bench near the cove (which made him shiver), and then he had to ride home in his wet jeans, all of which really just added insult to injury for him, I think.)

Because I work two jobs, often my "weekend" is more of a "day off", and its not unusual for me to attempt to pack a little too much into that single day (or, really day-and-a-half because my Sunday shift was scheduled to begin at 130 pm). Of course, because I get to spend so little time with E during the week (and much of that time is focused on getting him "fed, read, and bed", as we like to say), I want to make sure that the time I spend with him on Saturday and Sunday morning is as focused on him and his wants and needs as possible. But I also have a long list of "gotta do's" and "wanna do's" that I always hope I can find a way to get done. Realistically, though in a tug-of-war between laundry or playing, raking or playing, building shelves or playing, or even cooking (I mean really cooking and experimenting with food, not simply heating up nourishment) or playing, playing will always win.

Still, there are certain things that simply must get done (laundry, for example, or raking the back yard, or repairing the broken window in our garage) and it sometimes becomes a frustrating exercise to try and move anything off that list. (This is, in part, because Josh -- for all his many virtues -- is not "handy" but we're mostly too broke to hire contractors, so doing a lot of these jobs takes far, far more time and effort than it really should.)

So, by the end of an overstuffed weekend like this one, we end up in a situation where no one is happy. I'm not happy because I feel like "nothing got done" (despite the fact I ran four loads of laundry and did the dishes and we went to the playground and I nursed my miserable son with bananas and yogurt and Elmos and snuggle time), because I really didn't get anything more than basic maintenance items checked off my list. E's not happy because he's gotten a taste of what its like to have Mamma cater to his every whim 24-7 (including sleeping in his room snuggling him when he was sick) and now he wants it All. The. Time. Josh is unhappy because he feels like I've been nagging him all weekend about "things" that need one (and I have, which is unfair - I'm just as able to clean a gutter as he is, after all) when all he wants to do is kick back and relax and maybe sleep late one morning or the other.

I won't lie to you and say that its not putting some strain on our relationship, because it is. After fifteen years of settling into life as "a couple" we're having to relearn the rhythm of working together as a family unit - not only as a parenting team but also as a flexible triangle, trying to keep all our angles aligned in such a way that no side is overstressed. Its a hard curve, and I fully understand how less healthy relationships might not stand the strain. In some ways, being a "family manager" is a much more difficult job than being just Mamma, because when I'm Mamma, I can make the rules or break them (within the parameters of comfort and health and common sense) whereas the "family manager" needs to take so much more into account.


Mylisant said...

This reminds me of one of my favorite "Mothering" poems:

"Song for a Fifth Child"

Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep.

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
(first appeared, Ladies Home Journal, October 1958)