Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What? I Can't Hear You.

Yesterday morning I took the girls over to a friend's house to play for a bit. At one point all five of us (two moms, three kids ages five and under) were in one small bedroom, and all the children were talking to us moms--repeating the same questions or comments, over and over--at the same time. So that no one could hear what anyone else was saying or respond to any of their questions anyway. I looked at my friend and shouted, "Does the CONSTANT TALKING ever just get to you?!" As if such a question even needed to be asked.

It made me think how totally freaking CRAAAAZY it will be the first day my children are both in all-day school and the house will be silent for hours on end. HOURS, people. What in the world do stay-at-home moms even do then? Oh, wait--I suppose that's when we all go back to work, right? (At all those jobs that begin after the a.m. school rush and end before the children get home in the afternoon, and also allow time for the non-childcare elements of family management that someone still needs to get done, such as cooking, cleaning, and running the household errands.) Hmmm. Makes me think, once again, of this post.

But wait! I'm getting ahead of myself--three years ahead, to be exact. There's no need for that. Where was I? Have I told you that after I finished the 30 Day Shred, I pretty much stopped exercising completely? Somehow I don't think that's what Jillian Michaels had in mind. But people, I was sooooooo tiiiiiiired. However, this slothitude is not working for me. I've gained back my three pounds and I'm losing the ability to do walk-out push-ups without crying. I'm seriously considering re-doing the Shred in September. Because I am THAT CRAZY. Hey! Maybe THAT'S what moms do when their kids go back to school!

In other news, we had a great day here on Monday. We went outside at about ten a.m., and had morning snack on the patio. Then we played in the backyard--sand table, water play, dolly tea party, etc.--for two hours, had lunch on the patio, and played another half hour until naptime. After nap, we went back outside and played in the splash pool and sprinkler until dinner. I think the girls logged something like five hours outdoors that day, all of it in our own backyard. Believe me, such fuss-free, idyllic summer days are NOT THE NORM in this house--if you've read this blog for any length of time you know this--so all I could do was shake my head in wonder all day long, and try really hard not to tempt fate in any way whatsoever. There was that one moment I tried to have a phone conversation with my best friend in Texas, and it lasted six minutes and ten seconds before someone was crying, and then crying AND naked, and then I had to hang up. But people, seriously, it was a pretty awesome summer day. And you don't hear me saying that very often, so APPRECIATE IT.

Days like Monday shed a little light, I think, on my recent idyllic-fictional-house-in-the-country obsession. I'm a homebody by nature; I prefer being at home over most other choices, most of the time. I don't even like to travel--I KNOW! I'm crazy!--and being amongst my own things, in my own familiar world of existence, is what makes me the happiest. I'm probably, in that way, an ideal person to become a stay-at-home mom; I don't miss for even the tiniest second the opportunities I used to have, to work in different clinics and hospitals, to go to conferences in different settings, to meet different people all the time and be thrown into demanding situations at every turn. I don't think I'm a very good careerist, or a very good socializer, or even a very good urban-living parent. I like my smaller life; I like being at home, with my daughters.

So isn't it only natural that I'd wish for my house--my workplace, my beloved place of sanctuary and idealized parenting/family life--to be the one of my dreams? The most quintessential homebody, at-home-parent, family-centered house imaginable--a restored family farmhouse with enough room for the kids and the parents and the animals alike, a kitchen with enough room for multiple daily cooking, baking, and art projects to be undertaken simultaneously, land outside the door for children to run free on? Doesn't this embody my SAHM dream life? Isn't this an introverted, happy-homebody, at-home-parent's version of house-glamour--not a backyard pool or stainless steel appliances or a wall-sized flat-screen TV, but a house made for raising children in, for gardening near, for coming home to from evening country-road runs? I see those stories in Country Living magazine and all I can imagine is hiking the woods with my children after school rather than arguing over TV time; I imagine carving pumpkins on the front porch in October and growing our own flowers all summer long. It makes sense to my homebody mothering heart--just not to my suffering bank account.

In yet more unrelated news, the book that features one of my essays, the one being published this fall from Seal Press, now has its own website, with contributors' bios and everything. I think I can die happily, now that my name shares a page with the famous and so very talented writer Jacquelyn Mitchard (you know, the author of the very first Oprah Book Club pick, The Deep End of the Ocean?). Oh my Lord in heaven. There will be book readings and signings in cities across the country this fall, which means it is now time for me to start freaking out about possibly participating in such a thing. (No, Minneapolis--the city nearest me--is not on the list of sites for writer appearances, but Chicago is, and when you've dreamed of being a published writer your entire life, and published writers are those people who do exciting things like READINGS AND BOOK SIGNINGS, well, you strongly consider getting yourself a cheap plane ticket to Chicago to join the slate of authors there to read.)

Aaaaaand.....we're back to that whole part about how I hate to travel and I'm a total baby homebody.

I'll leave you with that to think on for a few days, while we go up north to the grandparents' to celebrate Genevieve's birthday. When we come back, she'll be three, and you'll get all the details about loving her up, remembering her birth, and how much she's grown.

If I can hear myself think over all the constant talking.


latisha said...

fun post shan! loved all the bits and pieces of it. i too think about "the" day when they all leave the nest and they aren't all even here yet. i DO NOT want to go back to work.

A sahms job is not done if the kids go to school. not even considering the fact that we will homeschool, i think its one of those taboo subjects.

why do we have to go 'back' to work, as if we haven't been working all this time. silly. misunderstood. and just plain not right for me!

oh and im totally with ya on the quaint little farmhouse thing.

Question said...

I didn't realize the twins and G's birthday were so close together. They turned 5 yesterday and had a small princess party where the kids played dress-up and decorated cup cakes and Daddy painted nails.

If you come to Chi for the book event, I'll be first in line to have you sign my book. (And you can always stay here, but I know you have other Chi friends who will also house and feed you.)

Shan said...

So sweet, Question. I do have dear friends, in the suburbs (Oak Park). I also have serious urban awkwardness in the fact that the subject of my essay and her family LIVE IN THE CITY. No, I will not be staying with them. ;) No, I will not be inviting them to the reading.

I don't really know how I see this going. Could be difficult. Could be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Could be a solo fly-in, splurge and stay at a hotel type thing, could be a get-the-grandparents-to-come-for-a-weekend-and go-with-my-husband-to-Chicago-for-a-day-or-two type thing (we've barely been back since our years there). Could be me begging to sleep on your sofa for a night. Could be me deciding the awkward factor (many mutual friends in that city, too, and some I think took the other side in the entire incident) is too much, and deciding to stay out of it. I don't know yet.

But boy would it be nice to see your smiling face in the audience if I do it! :)

Mnmom said...

I'm a SAHM and homemaker by heart, but finances have forced me back to work.
My idyllic vision was brushing my daughters' hair in front of the fire or reading classics aloud while they raptly listened. But the reality has been an entirely different scene!! I can't get them even remotely interested in the Green Gables series or the Little House books nor can I touch their hair because I "don't do it right!". You have to play with the cards you're dealt.

Shan said...