Saturday, June 11, 2011

Productive

I like to do things. I get bored easily and my cure for that is picking up a new hobby, skill, or project. In addition I'm a hard worker. Back when I went to work-work I got there early, stayed late, and got a lot done. Whether it was theater or school or office filing I worked hard. I enjoyed it because I like to do things.

However, I have a hard time feeling as though doing housework is doing things. Doing chores all day feels like, well, doing chores. It does not feel productive. I can work all day at dishes and laundry and floors and at the end of the day all I feel is exhausted and defeated. I don't go to bed feeling accomplished and pleased with myself because for all the things I do finish in a day I still know, and list in my mind, all the things I did not. Finished all the laundry? Great, but I still need to vacuum. Polished the living room floor? Fabulous, but the couch is still covered in cat hair.

Similarly, when I wake up in the morning it's not a wake up of hope and promise for all the things I'm going to sink my teeth into but rather a long look at a list of things I did yesterday and will do again. Then repeat the next day, or week, or month. When my husband comes home on Monday and asks "What did you do all day?" I will tell him I did the laundry and shopped for groceries and mopped the floor and played with the baby. When he asks again on Tuesday I will say the same thing. Again on Wednesday and Friday too. I know it as I'm saying it and talking, because I desperately need to talk, and he knows it as he's listening and eventually we'll just stop doing both.

Not that watching and helping a baby grow isn't the most fabulous, exciting, and interesting thing I've ever done. It is. However, I'm in the middle of doing it so somehow the wonder of getting both laundry and dishes done while I'm changing diapers and convincing her to take a bite of avocado doesn't seem that productive. I mean say it to yourself: I got the baby to try avocado. Feel accomplished?

Part of this feeling probably stems from the fact that these are jobs that never end. You never complete housework, or raising a child, or dinner for that matter. You cook the dinner, you serve the dinner, you eat the dinner, you put the dinner away, you do the dishes, you put the dishes away - then you begin planning the dinner for the next night. It never ends and it spawns it's own set of things to do that don't stop. It's a cycle of some big ups and downs. Similarly, housework never stays in the up position for long. I can polish the floor sure, but as soon as I do the husband comes home with the combat boots and the baby dumps a bowl of carrots over. It's not a big deal, but it means the thing you spent your energy doing today now needs to be done again tomorrow.

It is strange these things bother me. I love routine as much as excitement. I like schedules and lists. I enjoy knowing some of the things I will do during the day will not change just as I enjoy knowing somethings will really change. But I am finding it hard to get the perspective to find all this fulfilling as I did before. I am finding it hard to think that for all the effort I put in, and all the exhaustion I feel, I have done anything at all.

I'm busy but am I productive? And is it really important? Am I?


1 comment:

Wendy said...

Heh. I think all stay-at-home moms think about this too. Once my son got a bit older - old enough to not need his moommy all the time - I started asking myself the same questions. Ultimately, I figured out what worked best for me. :)

I think that life is a constant re-evaluation process anyway. Some moms are ready to go back to work after a while, some continue to stay home and focus on the house and children (and something creative on the side, whether as a hobby or career). No matter what, there are plenty of choices to make.

Is it that time for you now?