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Archive for the ‘Domestic Musings’ Category

The irony of listening to, Crass – Penis Envy, while doing housework is far from lost on me.

I’m eagerly awaiting the new designed, Fuzzi Bunz, to reach their distributors. Bella has been wearing Max’s FB’s. They are too big and the elastic around the legs is shot. Bella is in serious need of her own cloth nappies.

For a short time this morning I feared that my calm outlook on the daily grind (home with the kids) was already heading downhill and taking a turn for the worst. Bella was crawling after me for about 30 minutes while I attempted to quickly pick up the junk all over the floor. Then, she was itching like crazy and as per usual, protested the ritual of changing her nappy and caring for her skin. This protesting = pain for me because it is my right hand that hurts the worst. My right hand is the one she aims for when kicking.

She was so crabby that I was sure I’d have to spend the rest of my “free-time” (what a joke!) holding her. To people living without chronic pain, this may seem easy and ideal. For me, carrying her is painful.

I feel bad typing this all out but in addition to what I just wrote, I have to admit to myself that I don’t spend nearly as much time one on one with Bella as I was able to do with Max. Nor do I wish too. Don’t get me wrong, the time I spend with her everyday, one on one, just playing is delightful (all 10 minutes of it). I just can’t – and don’t want to – do it as much as I did with Max. I really need to work on carving out “Bella and Me” time. Also, (to continue the grumbling) her skin issues suck the life out of me. I get so depressed at night when she wakes up scratching.

After a freak out period this morning, after calling Hal and crabbing at him for leaving me with a messy house (for a moment there, it was all his fault), I gave Bella a sippy cup of water and she instantly stopped following me around. I immediately called Hal back to let him know that order had been restored.

Whew. The ride downhill was a short one.

Now, I better get back upstairs before Bella’s content in the playpen turns ugly.

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Backyard privacy is a symptom of suburban living. I sit in the rocking chair as Max plays in the dirt and Bella swings feeling like someone, anyone, could watch me and I wouldn’t know it. It makes me want to plant bushes around the fence so no one can see in. This paranoia is faceless and I’m not sure I like it.

Then I think about it. I am exposed and it must seem delightful to my homebound elderly neighbors to see a woman interact with her children so freely. To look out their window and witness a woman telling her son a story and the excitement on his face as she weaves the words into another world. To see children so content and playful around their mother is a gift. I love watching people who seem happy, too.

So I’m torn and left fantasizing about living on a few acres of land where the only eyes on me is Nature’s.

Backyard privacy is a symptom of suburban living and the cure is to move out into the country.

I think I will have to plant some tall bushes.

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I run downstairs to write and surf the net for five minutes. I’m in need of a little respite from mothering. Bella is getting in her top two teeth at the same time and is just absolutely miserable. I feel sad that she is suffering and understand her clingyness, but… I also feel annoyed and frustrated that I can’t set her down for any reason or length of time. She is in her crib crying as I type this little paragraph…

… Max’s birthday parties went over very well. Friday night we had the family at our house for dinner and b-day cake. Saturday morning, Max partied hard at the playground with his friends. It was a beautiful day on Saturday, the weather was just perfect. Everyone who came had a lot of fun. As Hal and I were driving home we were glowing with happiness. Our little boy is growing. Each age is so exciting and new.

I still muse over how I got to this very special place in life.

Our back yard is slowly becoming kid-friendly and worthy of adult lounging. Today, we had someone remove a batch of five dangerous (with their threatening six inch long thorns) reclinata palms. Later this week a pest control dude will give us an estimate on ridding the ground of those pesky red ants. I have been enjoying afternoon hours outside while Max plays. Bella watches him prance around and laughs at the birds flying overhead while I kiss and hug on her warm sweet skin.

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We play a game of stationary tag with Max. Bella and I being the stationary party in the rocking chair as Max charges us from across the yard. He starts at the banana tree a neighbor planted in his yard, until we put a fence up and discovered it actually fell on our property line. His little legs move so fast and his hands are stretched out far in front of him. His face smiles with anticipation of tagging Bella’s and my hands. It’s a fun game that we play often.

The weather is so beautiful these days. It sends me into fantasy mode. I have visions of plants, fruits, flowers, and vegetables adorning our home and yard. I also have fantasies of back yard barbecues, parties, and camp outs. I have pushed moving-to-Sarasota fantasies far to the back of my mind in order to enjoy where we live now. I’m sick of anticipating a move that isn’t realistic for us at this time. I want to live in my house and make it a home. It was hard for me to do that when the space felt temporary.

Max’s birthday party brought out about 13 kids and 20 adults, many of whom drove 30 minutes to be present. This put things into perspective. My friends will drive the distance. Distance doesn’t prevent friendships and I’m always making more friends as the years go on. And as a result… as the years go on… mothering gets easier and less lonely. If the time ever arrives where it feels right to move we will know and it will happen. However, I’m done planning for it. I want to enjoy my home right now.

PS: CONGRATULATIONS LIZ!!! My friend Liz gave birth at home, Sat., November 10th, to her second daughter, Sage. I am so happy for her and her beautiful family!!!

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This is a relevant topic in many families. Thank you Kelly for helping me to think about it.

My husband was recently referred to as a “metro-male” because of how much he contributes to the domestic front of our lives. The friend who made this label for him is married to a man she [passive/aggressively] lovingly refers to as a, “Cave Man.”

I feel compassion towards her plight to share household responsibilities and sad when I hear her accepting that her husband, just won’t do anything around the house. I understand what it is like to have communication defects in a relationship but I’ve never experienced the difficulties of living with a husband who prefers to be a jackass.

I know non-egalitarian distribution of home responsibilities is very common and occurs under the guise of “fair.” I use the word, “guise,” because if my husband is gone for 40- 50 hours a week for his own work, comes home and does pretty much nothing around the house [except the male accepted duties of mowing and small repairs], that means not only am I working while he is out of the house but I am continuing to work as he relaxes from his hard day at work. Fuck that bull-shit. There is nothing fair about that.

Domestic and mothering work is challenging especially when they must be done at the same time. The work I do at home is held to an extremely high standard of quality. My work weighs heavily on my conscious, my emotions, my life. And more importantly – the lives of my children. If I am an incompetent and irresponsible mother I don’t get written up or disciplined by a boss I may or may not hate, no… I have to answer to a higher power than that: the well-being of my children.

My daily choices affect the most important people in Hal’s and my life: our kids. If I were to loose them, my life would be over. If I were to loose a job, my ego may be bruised and I might miss the good folks I worked with but eventually, I’d just go out and find another place to work.

I do more around the house because I am home more. I am working while Hal is working at the library and I am working as Hal sleeps [night-nursing]. I am raising our children by myself for 10 hours a day 5 days a week. Hal acknowledges that mothering work alone takes a far greater energy source than he has ever given at work. He knows this because when he has taken care of both kids without me around, he is completely drained by the time I get home. He finds it impossible to do anything else besides care for and play with the children.

He hasn’t learned how to manage the children and the house, yet, because there isn’t as much opportunity for him to jump in and do that. I understand that being an efficient homemaker while parenting comprises of “learn as you go” skills. I don’t expect Hal to be able to do everything I can while watching both of our children. As the kids get older and he clocks in more hours alone with them, I have no doubt that he will be able to hang with the kids, clean something, and have a dinner made by the time I walk through the door. What makes him a keeper for a life partner is that he is willing to learn. In this regard, I wish for every woman to have a partner who is willing to learn.

As it stands now, neither Hal nor I rest until the kids are sleeping or we are sleeping or we are able to rest together. This blog entry isn’t to say that our relationship never sees a difficult day. We have our spats. He gets on my nerves and lord knows I get on his. Its just nice that the pressure of our home and children don’t rest solely on my shoulders. That takes a lot of stress off of me. And eventually, the pressure of bringing home the bacon won’t rest solely on his shoulders. Our arrangement of responsibilities is so temporary and flexible – even on a day to day basis.

Since having children I have gotten better at self-checking my abilities/energy. I don’t want to take on too much and resent my husband. I refuse to live like that, again. I actually love domestic work and I would take on much more of it if I didn’t have RA. I am looking forward to having the physical abilities and energy to do more. In a way, my physical limitations have helped me to create a system of asking for help and not taking on too much. Had RA never entered into my life and children still did – I very well could be burned out and resentful right now. It took me a long time to learn how to communicate my needs without blaming my partner for what I was experiencing. Like anyone human, I certainly do have the mental ability to push forward in daily life without looking at my own needs.

Max, watch your daddy. You will learn how to be a good man from him. And Bella, you watch, too. He will show you what you deserve from a partner.

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Today was decidedly a better day than yesterday. I took the kids to Whole Foods for some rice pasta, chocolate, and Echinacea tea. Even though it is a 30 minute drive, I like going there because I always see someone I know. Today, I saw a guy who recently told Hal and I that he is going to become a father. Hal is very excited about this because he’s a fellow punk rock comrade. I’m excited because he was just so thrilled to be expecting a baby and I love it when the fellas get excited about babies.

Hal will find out this week if he got hired for a position in the county library system he applied for last week. I have every bone in my body crossed hoping he does. It would be a nice change of pace for him. Change is good.

The one thing about Hal’s current job that I absolutely love, is that he has a set schedule. If he gets this new position, what-ever schedule he has, I hope that it is the same every week. Makes it easier to plan a life that way.

There are some things about how our marriage runs that are pretty standard/conventional. We are in a heterosexual and monogamous relationship, we have two children and one dog, we own a house together, we both own a car, Hal works and I stay home with the kids. All pretty standard American stuff. What is not-so-conventional in our marriage is the way that we function as a couple.

I don’t do all the cleaning, cooking, and caring for the kids by myself. The daily grind of caring for our children plus my physical limitations wear me out beyond recognition. By the time Hal gets home from work I could care less about food or what the house looks like. I keep the house in fair order throughout the day but what-ever it looks like at four o’clock is what it looks like until the next day.

Hal cooks dinner every night when he gets home from work unless I get a wild hair to do it myself – which hasn’t happened in months. He usually does all the laundry while I fold it and put it away. He almost always does the dishes at night – by time night arrives I’ve already cleaned the kitchen twice… that’s my limit per day.

I actually like cooking and am looking forward to doing it again – just not any time soon.

Hal also sleeps in Max’s room at night. Usually, Max will fall asleep in my bed (with Bella and I) and when Hal is ready to go to bed, he’ll transfer Max to his room. Hal sleeps on an air mattress on the floor in Max’s room. Not very comfortable but Max isn’t ready to sleep alone and I can’t have him in my bed all night. One baby is enough.

Hal gets Bella ready for bed every night while I brush Max’s teeth. Hal does everything else for Max: vitamins, nappy, lotion, PJ’s. I usually bathe Max but Hal will also do it.

Hal takes care of Max’s breakfast in the morning. He also changes Bella’s first nappy of the day. I stopped drinking coffee about a week ago, but when I did, it was nice that I’d wake up to brewed coffee every morning, courtesy of Hal.

On Hal’s days off from work, I don’t change any nappies.

Hal does all the grocery shopping.  This is only because I spend too much money when I do it.  Groceries are my weakness.

Hal tends to go out with friends more than I do (heh, which isn’t often for either of us), but that is only because Bella is still exclusively nursing.

I do the daily light house work: vacuuming, cleaning bathroom area, keeping floors picked up, kitchen stuff which includes prepping veggies while Hal does the work that takes a bit more elbow grease: cleaning the bathtub, mopping kitchen floor, taking out garbage, dinner dishes, mowing, and any lifting of items that need to go downstairs.

I wanted to write this out to have a record of our domestic life because I think we balance the house work and kids out quiet nicely. Neither one of us believe in a strict division of labor – he goes to work outside of the house and I take care of everything in the house. I think we both realize that isn’t a fair division. Maybe if he worked construction, roofing, or some other physically demanding job or a job that took him for more than 40 hours/week our situation would run differently. I think every household has to find their own “balance” with this stuff and I’m just happy that we have ours. It’s temporary and fluid but for now, its working.

The other way that we function as a couple that doesn’t seem to be the norm as far as I can tell… we talk about everything… neither one of us believes that it is healthy to have secrets from each other. I know secrets are fun for some couples, I’m not knocking it, but it just doesn’t work for us. The problem we have right now is that we just don’t get to spend enough time alone. We are dieing to have a regular date night without the kids every week and a couple hours at night together after the kids go to bed. Ahhhh, one day.

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Sunday’s Food:

Breakfast: skipped
Lunch: 2 black bean sandwiches on flat millet bread
Snack: carrots & hummus, fried peas
Dinner:
Pickle, potato chips

Monday’s Food:


Breakfast:
Oatmeal with cut up bananas and strawberries. 1 tbls flax oil
Lunch: corn tortilla chips and lentils
Snack: potato chips
Dinner: a very small slab of tofu, fresh green beans, spinach & romaine lettuce salad with cut up carrots, cucumber, celery, onions, green bell peppers, and kidney beans topped with French dressing. Stemmed red potatoes.

I slipped a little with the soy products. I just love fried tofu (specifically the way I make it). I ate much better today than I did on Sunday. If I eat a healthy and filling breakfast, I eat well all day. Thank you, Hal, for always making food for me in the morning when I ask – and often when I don’t.

I love breakfast. It is not only the most important meal of the day, it is my all time favorite meal. And since I can’t eat the cereal that I like, I have to eat oatmeal. I have always been a cereal girl for the very fact that I despise cooking or cutting food first thing in the morning. Hal has taken on the role of my morning chef.

Really, I get very angry when there isn’t something for me to eat for breakfast. Just ask my mom. As a child, anytime I’d wake up and we were out of cereal – every cabinet in the kitchen would get slammed as I frantically looked for a hidden box. Breakfast is serious business.

It was cloudy all day so we played mostly inside with the exception of a short stint of time letting Camus do his stuff in the back yard. I actually got pretty bored today and thought about how much I can’t wait to hang out with some friends tomorrow morning and Wednesday. We will be busy bee’s for the next couple days and then on Thursday, my in-laws will be picking Max up to take him to Dino Land – not to be mistaken for Dinosaur Adventure Land.

I figured out that I could set up a little play area behind the couch for the kids so that I could keep an eye on them as I cook.

My view of the kids from the kitchen:

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I often wonder what it is I do all day that makes time go by so quickly. They say time flies when you’re having fun but I don’t think that is what’s going on here!

7:30am: Max and I get out of bed. Bella is still sleeping.
7:30am – 8am: I drink my coffee, Bella wakes up, Hal changes Bella’s nappy and puts big boy underwear on Max.
8am – 8:30am: I shower! For the first time in two days! Get dressed and nurse Bella. Max is playing with his dinosaurs in the middle of the living room. Hal leaves for work at 8:30am.
8:30am – 9am: Put Bella in swing and drink 2nd cup of coffee while talking on the phone to Livia.
9am – 9:30am: Still on phone with Livia. Bella is still sleeping. In between allowing Max to talk on the phone and helping him poop/pee on the potty, Max tries to get me off the phone by pee’ing in his big boy undies. Didn’t work. I have him take his underwear off, get me a pair of his shorts, and put the clean shorts on him. He later poops on the potty (while I’m still on the phone!). Then, I sit on the floor with him and play with his dino’s while I’m on the phone. I also fold all of Bella’s clothes because we needed to rewash them – we think she was allergic to our normal laundry soap because she has a wicked skin rash.
9:30-10am: Get off phone with Livia and Max begs to watch King Kong movie. We go downstairs first so I can check my e-mail and Max plays downstairs. Then we go back upstairs and I make him some toast, me a faux chicken salad sandwich, and we watch King Kong – which I start at the scene where the ape snatches the woman from her constraints.
10am-10:30am: I make four phone calls, one to set up an appointment for my car, one to set up a pediatrician appointment for Bella (their phone is busy I still need to call), one to our carpenter who is really dragging his feet on finishing the work we have already paid him for (he’s a friend’s father so I do trust that he will eventually get it done – I know their whole family. I don‘t get a hold of him so leave a message) and one to make arrangements to get together with friends this weekend (left a message on their voice mail). After the phone calls Bella is ready to be nursed again.
10:30am- 11am: Change Bella, help Max use the potty. Sit on the floor with Max and Bella to give her some “tummy time.” SHE ROLLS OVER FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!!!
11am – 11:30am: Nurse Bella, put her back in swing (BTW… I only put her into the swing either when she has already fallen asleep in my arms or is about to fall asleep). Watch King Kong with Max. Put french fries for lunch into oven. Play with Max while laying down in our bed – he jumps all over me like I’m a jungle gym and I try to keep from getting hurt.
11:30am – 12pm: Make our veggie corn dogs and chocolate smoothies (soy milk, frozen banana, soy protein powder, peanut butter) and eat with french fries for lunch. Eat lunch together.
12pm – 12:30pm:
Still eating lunch – Max eats very slow.
12:30pm – 1pm: Work on recording this entry. Max is playing on our porch.
1pm -1:30pm: Work on recording this entry, let dogs outside.
1:30pm – 3:30pm: We all take a nap.
3:30pm – 4pm: I wake up to Bella fussing. Change her nappy. Take Max to the bathroom when I notice that I forgot to put a nappy on him and he didn’t have an accident! Nurse Bella.
4pm – 4:30: Nurse Bella while watching Jurassic Park part 2 (per Max’s request). Max goes into our bedroom and pees on my pillow. I get him to put the pillow in the laundry basket – it was nice of him to at least tell me.
4:30 – 5pm: Nurse Bella until she falls back to sleep then I put her in the swing. Fold and put away two more loads of laundry. Check e-mail.
5pm – 5:30pm: Still working on laundry. When I finish I call Grandma, sit on the floor and play with Max’s dinosaurs.
5:30pm – 6pm: Bella wakes up. Max continues playing but by himself, now. I play with Bella and get her to laugh HYSTERICALLY for the first time! Hal calls to let me know he’s on his way home and to find out what we need from the grocery store.
6pm – 7pm: Change Bella’s poopy nappy. Help Max use the potty. Hang up last bit of laundry. Sit on couch and veg-out.

7pm: Hal is home and I’m downstairs finishing up this entry. I am EXHAUSTED.

You may have noticed that I didn’t cook dinner tonight. My right hand is actually hurting badly as I type this so Hal is making dinner. I have given myself permission to not do everything everyday. The house is a disaster but I don’t care. There are dirty dishes in our sink and on the kitchen counter but, again, I don’t care.

I spent lots of time with the kids, saw Bella roll over and laugh, witnessed Max’s first nap without a nappy and got the laundry done. I also made important appointments, had important conversation with a close friend all the while having to pay attention to BOTH my kids, help Max use the potty, change diapers, let the dogs out, write, and listen to Max’s repetitive chanting of, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy. I can hear him upstairs, now, saying the same thing between his chanting of, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy.

So this is actually an average day. Switch up the household duties that I get done, mix in an epiphany or two, add the occasional play date and there you have it.

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