Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bumbling Through Domesticity (and Domestic Help?)

I made the mistake a couple nights ago of visiting a self-help website about how to make and achieve goals, forgetting that it is intended for normal people who aren't full of hormones, inarticulable fears, feeling like a blimp full of monkeys with an inability to bend over to even reach my knees.

Somewhere between the "write out your goals for the next 90 days" and "what one word pops into your mind to describe yourself?" I found myself in tears. (Bedraggled? Terrified? Irrational?)

I talked to my Mom on the phone later and she attempted to reassure me. "It's the second baby that hits you," she said."The first one is like 'I got a pet baby!!' and the second one really makes you a parent."

Good to know.

The problems are several-fold. I constantly contradict and reprimand myself. I go from feeling like I don't have any help to feeling like there are too many people around getting in my business. I go from panicking about my lack of planning for next several months to the realization that there are too many unknowns to plan for. I go from waking up ready to accomplish great things to needing a nap after just walking to the kitchen for my breakfast.

The main issue that bothers me is this: MEN.

Let me explain. Generally speaking, I like men. Prefer them, even. However, in this situation they've doomed me.

First, there's the inevitable father tangle. My Dad was both a present and an active part of my childhood and beyond. One could say he loomed large (and not only because he's tall enough to play professional basketball). He was a...let's say...toughening influence on my life. There was no prissiness tolerated in our house, and while I was raised in a decidedly conservative environment, there was little distinction made for gender differences when it came to personal interaction, manual labor and discipline. During particularly difficult phases of my life, I have vivid memories of my father taking me aside, clearing his throat, and giving me speech along the following lines:

"Remember L, that you are very smart and very capable, and you come from a long line of tough, smart, capable women. Your female ancestors didn't need feminism to liberate them. Your great grandmother studied math in college before women went to college, and she earned a reputation as a glutton from her dates who didn't realize that she was so poor that when they took her out it was sometimes the only food she'd eaten that day. Another of your great grandmothers raised four children and ran a rice farm, including care of a large number of dependent laborers, by herself after her husband died. Women you are descended from were on the frontier of this country, working side by side with the men to establish homesteads, birthing children in the wilderness and chasing down smoke-house thieves on horseback, so that they could reclaim their stolen food (and use the horsewhip on the thief to boot). With that kind of blood in your veins, and with your talents you can accomplish anything."

No pressure.

Secondly, there's my darling husband, P. He's a horse of a different color.

I get morning tea in bed on a regular basis. It upsets him that I don't get more pedicures, massages and spa days. I get asked, "Baby are you ok?" about eleventy thousand times a day, because he really wants to know how I'm feeling. His answer to my overwhelmth is a speech along the following lines:

"Why don't you hire a nanny housekeeper?"

Because, P.    Because.

1. I'm cheap.
2. The idea of having a new person (female) in my house and in my business who looks to me as their boss is stress inducing, on top of all the stress I have about how I need more help. (Nobody said these reasons have to be rational).
3. What about the long line of tough, capable women? What about the labor pains in the back of a Conestoga wagon that can't stop because there are Indians circling and we have to make it to the mountains because the snow hits!? WHAT ABOUT THE FRONTIER!?

Then again...

I was talking to my brother, and he gave me a slightly different perspective. One most accurately categorized as "don't be retarded".

"Look," he said. "Do you think those women did that because they wanted to? Like, they woke up one day and said 'I know! Honey! Let's go west. I think it would be FUN to risk my life for a measly piece of  grassy plain.' No. They're up in heaven now, clapping and cheering every time P tells you to hire someone. That's what they did it for -- so you could have a better life. Plus, who knows, you might find Mary Poppins and she's not annoying and doesn't need anyone to boss her around."

But, I'm still cheap.

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