Monday, February 18, 2013

In Which I Am Filled With Complicated Feelings

This year, I sent a holiday card to my old friend P.  Being a courteous person - we haven't really been in touch these last three years - he sent back an email: moved to the Big City, still working as big-business lawyer, dogs, looking for a house, newly engaged to be married, all is lovely and well.

I don't know if the friendship will stay alive, although I'd like it to, because I don't even know what to say.  "I'm still nursing, we renovated the entire house but it's a wreck because we have kids, and I have no idea where I'll be living in a year"?  "What on earth do you do all day?"  (This question could go both ways.)

And yet, we've stayed in touch through living on different continents, doing widely varied things, living totally different lives.  Why is it different now?

Because I'm a housewife, and I feel that my work all day is both desultory and insignificant.  I wander around with the kids, I try to entertain one while the other naps, and I make dinner.  Occasionally there is applesauce. We live like we're broke, so that we can be financially responsible. (Being an adult is no fun.)  Tatoe's deeply inconvenient morning nap prevents me from ever going anywhere. Yes, it will eventually change, but it's been eight months of this now.  Plus, it's winter, so I'm depressed and stuck indoors.  (It is very cold here and Tatoe is still wee.)


It makes me so sad to feel like I've already lost the substance of this friendship.  It makes me even sadder to wonder where the substance of my life went.

(Into the children, no doubt.)

14 comments:

  1. I could tell you that some friendships age out and that's okay or that being a stay-at-home mom trapped by morning naps is as interesting and as valid as any other kind of life. But, you know that. So it doesn't bear repeating. Unless it does and then consider repeating frequently, earnestly, and loudly except during nap time which, let's be honest, is sacrosanct.

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    1. I often feel ridiculous for my COMPLETE refusal to disturb naptime. But.

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  2. Pat, pat. When I started this job, I had five real friends. Now I have, uh, like two? It's not just your occupation, it's life. Of course, it's true that some occupations are more distracting than others, so you have my sympathy... I like to imagine this time next year you will be somewhere warm, in the middle of a wonderful social circle, too busy to write at all.

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  3. "I feel that my work all day is both desultory and insignificant." Yep, that's the problem right there. It's hard to feel worthy of friendship if you feel you have no purpose and do nothing interesting/important all day. The cold and dark of winter doesn't help with that feeling, the shrieking children either.

    However. You keep two human beings ALIVE. All day! And provide nourishment and love! All while being bored, yelled at, hit, and occasionally covered in children's bodily fluids. And you're not even paid! Except in snuggles, baby kisses, and the occasional glimpse of pleasant and well-behaved child. Everyone who knows your boys as adults will be grateful for the effort you're putting into them now. Your friend with his fancy job isn't doing anything nearly as important or challenging. I realize you're in limbo w/ Dr. S.'s job search and eventual move, but I'd hardly say your life has no direction.

    It's unfortunate that most housewifery feels unimportant, even if it isn't. But you're still an interesting, vibrant person with lots of non-child and non-housewife interests and conversation. Seriously. Now, I'd better emerge from my locked bedroom, put on some Science Friday and clean up the mountain of cardboard in my living room. The children have started to wonder (loudly) if I'm dead in here, and if so, what their new stepmother would be like. Hahahahaha, they crack me up :) When they aren't driving me crazy, that is.

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    1. It feels deeply unimportant! And your kids crack me up too.

      It's hard for me to think of conversation beyond PB&J, but perhaps if I'm closer to P than 1000 miles we'll manage something.

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  4. (((hugs))) - it can be hard, especially when a friend's life is going through exciting changes. Just remember that it's a phase - both for you AND him. You'll be feeling much better when your kids are a bit older and you have more time to yourself, and he's deep in the middle of baby/toddlerhoood ;)

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    1. True! If they have kids, by then mine will be in SCHOOL!

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  5. I agree with everyone else. But really I'm certain that your friend would be interested in your life. Because, as Nicole said, you keep two kids alive every day. That's pretty amazing (and I don't just say this because last Saturday, when Dr. Man was on call, I was seriously wondering if 4pm was too early for bed time). All this to say that what you do isn't insignificant or unimportant.

    Also: the morning nap is awful. I had no idea how awful until Kiddo officially gave his up about 2 months ago. It's freaking amazing how much more freedom we have now. I can't imagine going back (which may be why Dr. Man and I are still in negotiations over kid #2). Stay strong.

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    1. Well, I do have two, and I have to say I'd be sad otherwise, but I did resign myself to a full 9 months of post-baby misery, and another 9 months of discontent. So I can understand the reluctance to go back. Dr. S and I are in negotiations over possible #3: I say, WHY, and he says, but you'd like it when they're older, and I repeat, WHY.

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  6. I actually think having friends with totally different lives whom you can ask "What on earth do you do all day?" is awesome. And, yeah, it can be hard to keep friendships alive when your lives develop in different directions. Especially when you're not all that happy where you're currently stuck. For me that seems to be happening right now with a couple we've known for many years -- they just had their first baby and seem to find it (too) difficult to communicate with us, who are still trying unsuccessfully. Or maybe it's something else, I don't know.
    But there are friendships that make it through. Hang in there.

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    1. Remembering when I had a newborn, they're totally exhausted, overwhelmed, and incapable of communication. Maybe you can bring them dinner, then try again in 3 months! (It's not you, it's them. Really.)

      (And thanks.)

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  7. I just found your blog and it reflects many of my feelings. My sympathies! I have loved taking care of the wee ones, but now that they are in school and I am trying to get my science career back on track (though which track to take?) I am finding it harder than I thought it would be.
    The good news? I still wouldn't trade those years taking care of my kids. The giggles, hugs, and "I love you" are worth more than a CV full of papers. I hope when you get past the naps, diapers, and car seats (the final freedom: they can buckle themselves in!) you too will feel it is worth it.
    Chelle

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    1. I am not reassured by the harder-to-put-back-on-rails, but I suppose I don't expect much differently. They're starting to emerge from the baby chrysalis and it is already getting better! I definitely wouldn't trade it - I could have, but didn't - but yeah, it's still HARD.

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