Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoroughly Modern Woman

My mom always said “If you’re going to do something, do it right.” It used to REALLY annoy me when I had to clean the bathroom. But it was good advice that sank in and echoes in my head often.

I grew up KNOWING that I could do anything in life that I wanted. Work hard, make good decisions and dreams can come true. My dreams of the future revolved around job possibilities, amazing places to live and a fantastic wardrobe with awesome shoes. I didn’t really think about, much less dream about, what my house would be like, having kids or balancing my life around anyone other than myself. Of course, I’d have a great husband but we would be equals in everything. No slaving around the house for me, we’d keep it up together and spend our free time doing things together and pursuing our own individual interests.

I found a husband who was exactly that. No fighting over meal prep. If I cooked, great; if not, he’d have burritos, I’d have popcorn and we both were happy. We sorted and did laundry together on the weekends when we’d finally run out of underwear. I cleaned the bathrooms but he ALWAYS emptied the dishwasher; the job that I absolutely refused to do. It was easy and equal and oh so enlightened in our 21st century world!

I loved my job and although I didn’t have to wear high fashion I could dress how I liked, even if it meant that I was the most dressed up of anyone on any day. The work was interesting, fulfilling and sure to provide myriads of new things to learn in the years to come. I was rapidly rising in job status and responsibility and loved all the new information and skills I was accumulating.

Then The Princess arrived…

Now I work part-time but leave the house only one day a week. This means that my job responsibilities have been turned on their head. My view is that much of a job is dependent on who available when the work in question needs to be done. Even if you’re sharing an office (or a lab) with co-workers and everyone is working 40 hours a week there are going to be things that don’t necessarily use your education and expertise to its full extent. But, the job still needs to be done and proximity is often the deciding factor for who’s lap it ends up in.

So…here I am at home with a baby more often than not. Look around, what kind of jobs do you see in your immediate vicinity that need to be done? You got it! Laundry, vacuuming, dusting, cooking and kitchen floor washing.

So what have I become in the past three years? I’m a housewife; albeit a housewife with a husband who pitches in even when he shouldn’t have to; after all, he works hard at his job so that I CAN work at home. I’m a working mom who doesn’t make dinner on the night that she’s been in the lab all day – that’s burrito night. I’m also a writer and mother and soccer player, quilter, sewer and reader extraordinaire. But my JOB, the work that I expect myself to do because I’m the one that is there to do it, is more often around the house than not.

If I’m going to do the job I’m figuring out how to do it right. After struggling to consistently have dinners figured out and at least in preparation stages when Steve gets home I finally decided to use my great organizational skills to do some menu and grocery shopping planning. BINGO! I get to make calendars and lists and plans! Suddenly getting dinner on the table is easier and doable and I actually feel a sense of satisfaction over it!

Why not break down and buy those Clorox wipes so that I can quickly wipe down the bathroom and keep it clean? After all, at the lab I look for the most efficient way to get the job done correctly so that I can fit more into my day. Refusing to use anything but rags and Comet because it’s cheaper doesn’t make any sense if I’m not actually cleaning the bathroom because it’s a pain to pull out and scrub the dirt that’s been sitting there too long!

I’m developing laundry skills that go beyond being able to sort the colors from the whites. I’ve used bleach on my white towels. I’m getting better at putting a little Zout on the myriad of spots on The Princesses dresses before letting them sit in the basket. I started using the soak function on my machine! I had no idea it was even there!

Please don’t get me wrong. If you stop by my house you’re not going to find a pristine “palace”. It’s clean, it’s relatively neat – or at least in the process of getting there; I’m well known for having a pile of “yet to be folded” laundry sitting on the living room floor for my evening TV viewing pleasure. I have many other things going on in my life that are just as, or even more important than, my housekeeping skills. But, I’m trying to find balance and provide an example to The Princess on doing a job well while still allowing time to focus on the things that make you sing, both inside and out. (I interrupted my vacuuming twice to make notes for this post!)

So no, being a “housewife” wasn’t my dream career. But, being successful in my job WAS part of the dream and I’m doing my best to be successful in this season of my career.

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