There’s a film called ‘Friends with Money‘ and in it Frances McDormand’s character Jane stops washing her hair. It gradually gets pretty manky and her friends sort of notice, but don’t mention anything. And just when it’s getting really gruesome her kind husband gently suggests he might help her wash it. And she has a bit of a cry and they wash it and, well, all is grand again.
It’s a pretty odd concept that’s stayed with me. The character of Jane is highly-functioning, clever, nice family etc. etc. And yet she just stops washing her hair. It’s difficult to identify with on one level – would it even take five minutes to wash? And yet on another level, Jane’s messy hair is my messy wardrobe, my admin drawer that I keep promising to tidy but remains crammed, my dentist appointment I’ve been meaning to make; for 18 months.
I’m a procastinator. I used to beat myself up about this until I had a chat with an aunt who intimated she is exactly the same. Like, EXACTLY. We’ll put off the tiniest of jobs and then stress about it at 3.36am, swearing we’ll do it the next day… and yet the tiny job remains not done. It’s kind of nice to know that it may just be in my DNA. An excuse? Perhaps. But also something that reminds me we’re all compiled differently and if that’s one of my characteristics, well, maybe so be it. That’s not to say I don’t try to procrastinate less, I do. But it also means that I accept it a little more when it happens and try to be less hard on myself. My aunt is, in spite of being a procrastinator, a totally wonderful person. So maybe I can still be too.
Lately I had been a bit fidgety. The youngest is 18 months, which might have been some part of it. And the weather’s been dismal. I’m blogging away a bit, enjoying that. But I guess I was wondering could I be doing a little more perhaps – something beyond the three small ones? Two close friends of mine were recently wondering if I couldn’t eek out some time for myself in the week – just a few hours. I met these queries like a deer might greet car lights in the dark – wide-eyed with a sprinkling of panic. I mean, who doesn’t want a few hours to themselves during the week? But at the same time, it’s not something I’m actually bothered to make happen. In theory, I’d love to have more time to write. And I’d really like my children to see me go out in the world to do my own thing every so often, I think this is such a positive example to set. And yet here I am. Not budging. Up to my neck in being 100% at home.
We’re all enjoying getting outside again, makes the day job easier
Is it laziness, complacency? Am I too safe and comfortable at home? Am I defaulting to ‘procrastinate’ mode? Or am I like Jane, turning a blind eye to this messy, seat-of-my-pants, child-infested, child-obsessed life and pretending it’s all grand, when in fact it seems pretty obvious to others that a bit of an intervention is required?
We’re all expected to have such balanced lives – time for them, time for us, time for this and some time for that. But I am firmly in ‘obsessed mammy’ mode, my mind taken up with ‘them’, my life filled with ‘them’. And all I know is that my gut is telling me to keep going.
I am firmly in ‘obsessed mammy’ mode
The point is, I don’t particularly want to step back or get more time to myself or have more help. Being at home is unlike anything I’ve ever done before and most definitely unlike anything I’ll ever do again. For me, nothing will touch these years with my smallies. It’s physical, emotional, blood, sweat and tears. For me, this is living, it’s life itself. I think of it as a job I’m most probably unhealthily dedicated to – I’m a workaholic who eats, drinks and sleeps being a stay-at-home-parent. But what maybe makes the toughest / drabbest times bearable, is the fact I’m only working a contract. A short, dwindling, definite contract. It’ll all expire and be gone in a few years, becoming the one job I already know I will pine after and wish more than anything I could return to.
That’s just me. I’m washing my hair (just about) but I’m certainly not perfect.
It’s healthy to check in with yourself. Like anyone, I get persuaded and swayed and influenced. I have good days and bad, days of certainty and days of disillusionment. I look at and admire how my friends are attaining their own versions of balance between life and work and kids and I definitely don’t always feel I’m doing it right. I’m just going to go with the idea that maybe ‘right’ can seem messy and unbalanced from the out side. But inside, you’re actually doing OK.
Spring, we have needed you for a fresh perspective and a reconnection to what we love
This blog post appeared on http://www.selfishmother.com