I didn’t plan on being a stay-at-home mom/housewife.
I dreamed about it when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. Then I grew up. I got my masters and worked my butt off till I finally found a job I loved and supported myself comfortably. When that happened, I couldn’t imagine not working.
Then I met A., fell in love, got pregnant, had C. and we had an opportunity to move to the desert, where rent for a 3-bedroom house and substantial backyard is cheaper than a studio in D.C.
So I changed mental gears, fairly abruptly. I decided, “A-ha! Here’s my opportunity to write creatively, because there are no jobs in the desert for me.”
What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to find the time. Several years ago, when my dear friend J. had an infant, I said to her, “What do you do all day?” It hurt her feelings, so she remembers and told me in a recent conversation. I don’t remember saying it, but I was clueless, so clueless. And now I get it.
C., who is 13 months, naps at best three hours a day — an hour-and-a-half at a time. By the time I make my coffee and fry up some eggs and clean up and catch up on emails and find a recipe and maybe return a phone call, an hour is gone.
How does it happen? Where does the time go?
So, for this week, I’ve embraced the stay-at-home mentality (even if I’m not particularly good at the role). I went to Home Depot and bought two outdoor plants to pot and put near our front door (I’m pretty sure I killed one in the process.)
I made a pot of vegetarian chili with hominy (never heard of it before Monday), minestrone from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and carrot soup from Smitten Kitchen. (All three turned out quite well, though I destroyed the kitchen in the process.)
Last night, I roasted a whole free-range chicken for the first time and it turned out juicy and tasty. (Never mind that both of the smoke alarms went off — one of which has a woman who actually says, “fire, fire,” which is very disconcerting.)
I can’t stop thinking about decorating our home — I want to make it cozy for guests who have to travel far to see us, so I ordered an orange throw for the guest room, some vases to fill with flowers and these awesome lanterns (who knew a lantern could make me so happy?).
I’m really trying to embrace this time I have at home with C. — the freedom and flexibility and not panic that I’m not padding my resume. And not freak out because it’s so quiet.
I’d like to teach myself how to bake bread. And plant some tomatoes. I’d like to set up an easel in our backyard and practice painting on a canvas. I’d like to throw some bowls and pots (I signed up to a pottery class every Tuesday evening starting Jan. 22 at a local artist’s home just up the road toward the mountains.)
I don’t like the term “housewife” — it feels very ’60s repressive. My relationship with A. is not so — he gets home from work and gets on his hands and knees and cleans the kitchen floor. He’s making a bookcase (the third one in a set) so I have a place to put my coveted books. He made me a pork-and-broccoli dinner on Tuesday. We are equal partners.
So, because I don’t like the term, I’ve been in denial that I am just that: a stay-at-home mom/housewife. There, I said it. I’m ready to embrace it — play-dates and all.
Now if only I can make a little more time — ditch the excuses — and be a stay-at-home mom/housewife who writes.