And that is okay (because I’m smart enough and I’m pretty enough and gosh darnit, (some) people like me).
Balance is a big topic for parents. There was a well-attended session at BlogHer about balancing work, especially writing, and children, that I was really excited to attend. I didn’t like it. Like so many discussions about balance, it wasn’t about balance, it was about doing it all. I’m sorry, I don’t do this often, but f*ck that noise. I don’t like doing it all. I don’t want to do it all. And I have to say, I disagree that you can do it all and do it well and not end up in a straight jacket.
Don’t get your back hairs up and your knickers in a knot. I am absolutely not saying that working parents are neglecting their children or parents who don’t work outside the home are boring, bonbon-eating slobs. I am saying that something has to give. If you work full time and have two kids, you might not be on the preschool board. If you’re like me and you’re so sick of being with your four small kids that you will do ANYTHING including attending the epic mop v. swiffer preschool board debate to get the hell out of the house because you never know, you just might meet another mom who drinks wine and will go out with you afterward and that is worth it even if she is a mop person because mops are just nasty.
Maybe if you work from home and have to balance your kids and your writing, you aren’t the mom at preschool with three kids in gorgeous homemade Halloween costumes. Although, that example kind of makes me look like shit because I don’t work outside the home at all and I bought my kids’ costumes. If I did work outside the home the only thing that would change is that I could maybe buy them from Cha.sing Fir.eflies instead of Tar-jey.
People are always exclaiming to me “I don’t know how you do it.” They don’t really mean it. They probably mean something more like, I can not understand for the life of me why you would want to do it. Better you than me, sister. It’s a social nicety, I know. Sort of like, “how many weeks are you” or “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl” or “your two-year-old who is currently biting the ear off of my 10-month-old is SO darn cute, even with that blood dripping out of his vampire-like mouth.” (I’m kidding. I don’t think two-year-olds are cute. Except for yours, your two-year-old seriously is cute.)
The truth is I’m really happy doing it 96% of the time and I think one of the reasons is that I define my “it” pretty narrowly. Some might say that I set my bar for “it” low and yeah, they’re right too. (We only hate them a little.)
For example, my “it” doesn’t include dinner. I don’t like to cook. I don’t like to think of what to make. I don’t like to shop for ingredients for the dinners that I didn’t like thinking of. A typical week of dinners in my house goes like this:
Wednesday: Chicken nuggets and mac & cheese (from the box) with peas mixed into the mac and cheese because my kids shovel the mac & cheese down so fast that they actually consume the peas without noticing them.
Thursday: Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Tomato soup is totally a vegetable. Possibly a fruit. Whatever. It is good for you.
Friday: Take and bake pizza. $8.99 with the coupon, baby.
Saturday: Yogurt and fruit or maybe P&J and veggies with ranch dressing.
Sunday: Real food made by Matt (He works four ten-hour shifts, so he’s off three days a week.)
Monday: Real food made by Matt
Tuesday: Real food made by Matt
This is completely self-serving. I could make real dinners, but in addition to not liking it particularly, I want that time. I let my kids watch TV from 4:30 to 5:30 every single evening and it takes me 5 minutes to unpackage dinner. That’s good math. 55 minutes to myself. Do I shower? Maintain basic hygiene? Fold the laundry? Prepare a fun craft activity for after dinner? Aha. You know me better than that, right? I check my email, draft a blog post, read blogs, read my book club book.
The key is that I don’t feel guilty. I own my “it.” I don’t judge other people’s its either. To each their own it. My it includes a portion of each day present with my kids. My it includes clean clothes for them each morning and a snuggly bedtime routine each night. My it includes significant volunteering at their preschool. My it includes time for me to read, write and go out with my friends. My it includes date nights with my husband. My it does not include cooking. It does not include unpurchased bake goods of any sort. My it does not include homemade crafts/costumes/organic gardens. My it does not include scrapbooking or memory keeping of any variety.
That’s how I do “it.” I know you do “it” too. You probably define your “it” differently than I do, but you do “it” every day. The most important thing for all of us parents to remember is that no one is doing more of “it” than you are. No one is better at “it” than you are. We all just have very different “its.” And in the immortal words of Big Bird, wouldn’t “it” be boring if all of our “its” were the same?
I inspired someone. I know, you wouldn’t think it was possible based on this post, but I did. Jessica of Bernthis, who regularly cracks me up, decided to post every day in November with me. Then, she accused me of having a strong sense of self because of my closed comments. But, don’t worry. Marinka brought me back to earth. She accused me of monopolizing the conversation by selfishly preventing anyone else from talking. Now I’m feeling insecure and mean. Talk to me. What’s your “it”?
E&E Tally: 2077 words (Raise the roof. Only 48K to go.)
Blog posts: 4/30 (So far, so good.)