Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mother-Worker: An acrostic poem about me

My secondborn, E, presented me with this today:

It's an acrostic poem about me. Perhaps for the sake of the form (or perhaps not), the aspect that E chose to highlight in the poem was her perception of me as a worker.

By this, she doesn't mean the paid work I do - that part of my life, limited as it is now, is largely invisible to the big kids, being performed when they are at school and after they're asleep.

No, what E was referencing was her view that I spend a lot of my time "doing jobs" - housework, cooking, gardening, laundry, errands, phone calls and appointments related to the minutiae that makes up our lives.

While she's right - I do spend a large amount of time doing these things - I don't only work. I read, I blog, I play games with the kids, I walk, I go to the park. I take them fun places (fun for me as well as them, I mean!) I sip tea and I daydream. My life isn't one of unrelenting labour, especially compared with the lives of many women. Not that comparison is helpful anyway; like everyone, I have good and less good days, calm periods and hectic ones. The point, though, is that my life contains no unusual stressors or demands that make it any more difficult - or full of work - than anyone else's.

So why does E think I'm a worker, an all-day worker? I wonder whether I may have been complaining a little too much about it all lately, bringing it to the forefront of E's mind. (She is the sort of person who is anxious to make others feel better / reassured, so if she sensed that I was feeling under-appreciated in this area, she'd rush to remedy that in her own way).

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with household matters lately; drowning in a king tide of housework, as I saw one writer put it a while back. Our basic problems are too much stuff, too little space, not enough time and not enough energy - the age-old, unoriginal complaints of just about everybody.

I thought I'd been managing my growing sense of frustration and angst fairly seamlessly, but once again, I'm reminded sharply that kids miss NOTHING. Anything you think they don't know about what you're feeling or thinking - they do, sometimes before you've even enunciated it to yourself. A few teary moments, in a quiet corner, after coming across yet another tsunami of mess created and abandoned by the 3 year old; sharp words at the husband because dishes are left in the sink; a tirade at the big kids for the perpetually dreadful state of their shared bedroom. Plenty of clues for a smart cookie like E to put two and two together.

I don't want to make my feelings about the state of the house the kids' problem, although I do want to start to build more age-appropriate tasks into their routines which will get them helping more. I need to find ways to either manage my house better and overcome my fundamental inconsistency and, yes, laziness; or I need to find ways to not let it stress me so much when my house is cluttered and messy and dispiriting sometimes. Maybe it's both, actually.

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