Last week found me taking a small slide backwards from my quest for happiness, but overall was good. Jack’s sitter had gone on vacation and I while I was able to find a sitter for a few hours, I spent much of my week in the house with Jack. As a childless career woman, I remember thinking that women who were stay at home mothers were crazy, and that there was no way I could ever handle that much domesticity. Then I had Jack, and my mind spun a post-partum tale of home bound bliss that said I wanted to be with him every second of every day. And then the pregnancy hormones wore off and I needed some “Maggie time” so badly it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I love being with Jack, but realized last week that I have spent every single day for the past 22 months as a mother, with no real break. When Jack was born and went to the Children’t Hospital, there was a period when he was in ICU care that I couldn’t spend the nights with him, but I was there all day. Then they put him in a step-down room and I spent 24 hours a day in the room with him. Since returning home, the only three nights I have been away from him have been the nights LK has kept him. This has left me no time to go on a trip or take any real time for myself to relax of regroup.
So in the coming weeks, I am going to try very hard to find a way to take a few nights to go to the beach, or even a hotel with a pool and a spa. A friend with complete freedom to travel at any time pointed out that I sounded “trapped” in my last post, and although I don’t want to admit that, because then I sound like a bad mother, I have felt trapped. I want to go to a beach resort, or a European city and just take care of me for a few days. I have a lead on a great sitter for Jack and so now it’s just getting the timing and logistics hammered out. I hope to be writing about my mini-vacation soon…
As for last week, I didn’t have a sitter for as many hours as ususal, so I didn’t get to work that much, and I was exhausted every night. I did read a few things, although I didn’t get a whole book read. One interesting thing that I read was a short story from the book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” by Rachel Naomi Remen. She is a psychiatrist/therapist and in this essay called “Beyond Perfection” she describes her youth, and her struggle to gain approval from her father. He was never impressed with her 98 on a test, and instead asked what happened to the other two points, crushing her spirit and ensuring that she would study relentlessly for every future test she ever had. She points out that the term “unconditional love” is superfluous because love is, by definition, unconditional. What we are looking for is love, but what we actually seek is approval, and since we do that with accomplishments or efforts outside of giving love, we compromise our happiness by seeking perfection. She eventually marries a man who, after she spends an inordinate amount of time studying for a driving test on which she earns a perfect score, asks her why on earth she’d want to do that. He asked why she traded the lunch in the park and the visit to the museum for a few more points on a test that she could have just “passed” and had the same result: a license. She realizes that by studying so much the past week, she missed out on living and enjoying life, and the approval for the perfect score didn’t come, and it didn’t reallly matter.
I wish it were easier to just stop trying to be perfect. I’m not perfect, and I know no one is, but each time I fail to do something, I feel badly and unworthy. And yet, no one else seems to care. I know that my friends and family don’t care if I show up in a slightly wrinkled shirt, or if Jack is wearing a bib with a stain on it, but I really wish that everything were “perfect.” I don’t know what perfect is, but I know that I’m not there yet. Last week, I accepted every single invitation for a meal or meeting, even though I was tired, and would have rather slept, or do laundry or otherwise get something accomplished. And as it turns out, I had a great time out with friends. I have far better memories of laughing with “Grant’s Mama” talking about raising sons, and with my friend “T” talking about finding time to exercise and take care of ourselves, and on the phone with so many others. And not one person asked me why my eyebrows hadn’t been tweezed lately, and no one asked if I had cleaned my toilets that week or ironed my shirts for tomorrow. They just enjoyed me, and I them.
So, for this week, I have one project that I want to accomplish, and several goals for relaxation and enjoyment. First of all, I am going to finish building out the closet in the guest room. I will post pictures soon, but I am pulling out the wire shelf that the builder put in and building out a wooden closet organizer. I have wanted to do this since we bought the house, but here I am 11 years later, and just getting it done. But I’m done feeling bad about it. I’ll get it done when I get it done, and hopefully that will be this week. If not, then next week, or the next. Also, I am going to find a painter to paint the library and living room, both of which were painted when we moved in. I have hated the color since it dried, but since LK refused to repaint a freshly painted room, I have lived with it. Actually, I have scowled at it every morning for 11 years wishing that it didn’t remind me of the past 11 years that I’ve had to look at it. I know it may cost several hundred dollars, but the price will be well worth the boost in morale, especially if it frees me from that morning scowl. And as an added bonus, if I can work it out, I am going to get a massage. And maybe go to a movie. Ok, now I’m getting a little crazy. Too much me time. Right? No? Ok, I’ll do it!!