You have a fever and are fighting a virus.
Those words were spoken to me today by my Naturopath doctor who listened to my detailed descriptions of my various meltdowns, hormonal fluctuations, general unwellness, irritability and a host of other complaints. She checked me out, felt this and that, tested my adrenals, and declared me stressed out and sick.
She prescribed, among other things, a weekly hobby.
After explaining about school and half-day Kindergarten and kids’ tennis lessons and hockey school and gymnastics and his hunting schedules and his work obligations and long commutes, she said:
What do you do for me-time?
Huh? Me-time? Like when I have to pee and no one is talking to me through the door? I can’t have a 10-minute shower without someone coming in with some pressing need. And no, I can’t lock the damn door, it’s an old house and the bolt doesn’t work.
Me-time. I have to schedule a class out of the house to get away from them. After my virus is taken care of, that is.
When he booked his hobbies, when you booked the children’s hobbies and activities, did anyone ask the question whether you were free that night? Whether you have plans on some weekend?
Well…no. I mean, I thought it was my job to coordinate everything. And I’m the back-up for when he can’t make it back due to work/commute issues. I mean….that is what I signed up for when I stayed home to raise the kids.
For the record, no one ever said I can’t have a hobby. It just didn’t occur to me to find something to do away from everyone because someone (me) needed to be here to do this and that and pick up and drive and cook and get organized for tomorrow. I just assumed I would do that. I just assumed that when I’m encouraged to find a hobby or take some time away from the family that I would be the one to organize and direct and plan the pick-ups and babysitting and drive-to-activity thing. Delegate, like a boss in a corporation, the details to the subordinates sounds complicated when the subordinates are missing.
It’s too complicated to schedule myself away from them.
(There is of course that control thing that so many mothers hate to admit they have. If he’s picking up the kids does he know they like to have whole apples to munch on during the walk home? Will he remember to bring the bottle of cold water from the fridge? If he doesn’t he’ll have to endure whining and complaining for half an hour and come home irritated and pissed-off, which may rub off on me when I get home after a lovely time away. Can’t let that happen…But the reality is, when I’m away, I have to BE away. I have to learn how to do this. It’s not my problem, let them deal with it. So what if grandma does it different, or daddy forgets the snacks. They will survive, all of them.)
The thing is, when others make their plans, they don’t check with me to see what my schedule entails. They just book it and then maybe tell me about it, if they don’t forget. And if by chance I happen to make plans to meet someone for lunch, it is me who has to arrange all the child-pick-up drive-to-activity thing. No one ever offers to take that over so that when I have something to do, I don’t have to deal with it. But then again, I always thought that was my job. I’m the one at home with my fingers in everyone’s schedule (and grooming, and snacking, and socializing)…didn’t occur to me that someone else could inherit this responsibility on my down-time plan(s).
In the meantime, I can’t seem to see beyond the daily obligations. I have lost myself somewhere between the last kid’s birth five years ago and now.
What do you like to do?
I said write, read, garden. I like to blog. I like to…take photographs. Maybe draw or paint something. She looked at me. She said: what else?
I like working with clay. I’ve always wanted to take a pottery class.
We had a lovely chat. She explained to me that it’s a common mistake for women who stay home to lose their personal identity, and then they wonder why they’re always tired/irritated by all the constant obligations that need so much energy. There is this underlying resentment that I didn’t recognize that she helped me see. I resented that no one appreciated the things I did, that I was taken for granted, and at the same time no one considered that maybe I’d like to do something away from the family. She said:
You have to book the class and tell them after the fact. Not the other way around.
This is eye-opening. I have, after all, a University Degree, a Certificate from another University in Technical Writing, 10+ years work experience, I’ve lived on two continents, speak three languages, understand a fourth fairly well, can grow almost anything I put my mind to, manage to fix simple things around the house, sew and draw, paint and renovate, cook and clean…
I am a person. I just lost her, somewhere along the way.
Gonna look into that pottery thing. And maybe borrow my neighbour’s pottery wheel.