|"When two people each become windows for the other," oil on canvas, Pier Wright (my first cousin once removed).|
I've been thinking a lot lately about the question,
"So what do you do all day? You know, being at home all the time."
Friends, new acquaintances, even strangers
ask me this surprisingly often.
And I always stammer out some lame answer:
"Um...well...I play with Addie. I read a lot. Yeah, I'm trying to get back into reading for pleasure.
I have this weird thing where I never finish books."
I figured it was time for me to figure out a solid answer,
one that reflects how much I actually do every day.
First off, you have to understand that I now define doing much differently.
Instead of checking off and turning in, things you can tangibly see and make note of,
my doing has become more abstract.
My life abstracts. Abstractulates. I am abstracting.
I have come to love this, to thrive on this. But it took a while.
About a year, really.
This time last year I graduated from college, birthed my first child, and sat down in my armchair at home, thrilled to finally be settling in to the life I had always dreamed of.
And then I got bored.
Call it postpartum or baby blues or depression--I just felt bored.
I hardly thought at all. I hardly moved.
There were productive days where I'd push the stroller to the library, check out a stack of books, and then sit outside flipping through the pages.
But mostly I just sat. Fed the baby. Held her while she slept and I sat.
One day it finally dawned on me: My mind was not progressing. My mind had lost its purpose.
No professor was there to hand me a syllabus with a reading list and essay deadlines.
No boss was there to make sure I was clocking in on time and staying on task.
When I graduated, I had been so excited for the prospect of these things.
The problem was, I hadn't replaced them with anything.
I wasn't being held accountable--by a professor, a boss, or myself--for anything really at all.
When I finally realized this, I made some changes.
I bought myself a planner with plenty of space to write and check-list and meal-plan. I started a book (and finished it!) and then another and another. I made a weekly schedule for myself (Monday is grocery shopping, Tuesday is laundry, etc.).
So here's that question again: "What does a stay-at-home mom do all day?"
My answer: Progress.
I learn. I read. I write.
I get to know my daughter by actually playing with her on the ground. And then I sit back and watch what she does when she's by herself.
I cook and bake and clean. I'm learning how to run a household efficiently, the way I want to.
I research. I look up definitions. I read articles.
I simplify my life.
I serve. I reach out to others. I talk on the phone.
I make appointments. I drop by unexpectedly.
I remember birthdays. I write letters.
All in all, I spend a lot of time with myself, an activity that does wonders for my self-understanding.
Some days it is very hard and very lonely. But the bored : content ratio is shifting.
I'm slowly figuring out how to live purposefully, simply, happily.
How to be productive in a way that, though abstract, somehow matters more to me than concrete productivity.
I live in the beautiful world of the abstract.
Yep, that's what I do all day.