At my job as a high school teacher, I’m entitled to 10 sick days a year. I’m guilty of taking many of those days as "mental health" days and "grading" days. When I did take those mental health days, I would often fantasize about being a housewife. I envisioned myself cleaning, dusting, baking and gardening away the days. I’ll be honest; I also fantasized about going out to lunch and sleeping in.
When Odie and I found out I was pregnant, we decided I would take a year off of work when the baby came. Okay, he decided that. I was totally unconvinced that we could afford to do it. As soon as our "nest egg" came through, the result of a generous inheritance from his grandmother, I became convinced. I commenced to dream about my year as the perfect homemaker.
What a load of shit.
I let myself fall into a familiar trap: fantasizing that I’m not me. That I have different talents, tendencies, and something else that starts with a "t" to complete the parallel structure. I despise housework. I grew up with a maid who did all of those things. I love having a clean house, but I am not into what it takes to get it that way. In my upper middle class experience, you go away for the day and come home to a clean house compliments of the maid. It’s wonderful.
There is a part of me who wanted to take joy and pride in these household tasks. When Baby V was very little, I even did some baking. I made peanut butter cookies, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, oatmeal cookies, and zucchini bread. When I was done baking, however, there was always a sink full of dishes. Then we had all of these baked goods, and Odie prefers the kind that come in packages with lots of trans fats. My cookies went uneaten. The zucchini bread wasn’t as good as the one you can buy at Shaker’s, and the dog knocked my cake off of the counter and ate it. So I abandoned the baking.
I have a bunch of vegetarian cookbooks and I long to be an expert vegan/vegetarian chef. I don’t have much skill. The meals end up over or undercooked and then there’s the issue of Odie not being a vegetarian. He’ll eat my food, but he so clearly doesn’t enjoy it. The leftovers go untouched. If we have leftover pizza in the fridge from Papa John’s, it never goes untouched. Like the baking, these meals leave a sink full of dishes in their wake. I’m just making more work for myself.
Today is Saturday and when Odie woke up, he went into the kitchen and proclaimed, "What a shit hole," referring to our home. It hurt me. I’m not a great housekeeper, to be sure, but our house is NOT a "shit hole." Even if it were, would you walk into a friend’s or relative’s home and announce, "What a shit hole!" Why not? Because you might hurt the feelings of the person who lives there. Exactly.
I don’t do a good job on the house. I vacuum once a week, sometimes twice, even though I need to do it every day considering how many pets we have. I mostly keep the dishes washed, but I only wipe the stove and clean the floor occasionally. I scrub the toilets every week, but I rarely deep clean the bathrooms. Laundry is a daily chore, but even that gets backed up. Still, it isn’t a shit hole. It looks like the home of a family with a baby.
It’s hard to let go of the dreams about the way I wanted things to be. I thought I’d lose the baby weight by Amanda’s wedding in July. She’s been married for 7 months, and I still have an extra 20 pounds. I am not a homemaker. I get up in the morning and enjoy some coffee while Baby V plays. Then I try to get some blogging done. Sometimes I take pictures of myself, hoping that the result will show that I’m still young and maybe even that I look more rested than 10 months ago (nope). I feed Baby V in her high chair, clean her up, clean up the tray, dump the leftover food onto the floor for the dog. Play with my daughter on the floor. Next thing I know, it’s nap time. I like to catch a tv show or two while V naps. Playing, feeding, changing diapers, washing little hands and the like are all tiring. Not as tiring as working construction, maybe, but tiring none the less.
Things are simply not as I thought they would be. That’s true about being a teacher, being a wife, and being a mother. I’m still me. I still procrastinate, have unrealistic expectations, and eat too much.