I had both kids at home with me today, which meant that I got emails sent and returned phone calls and texts in the thirty minutes between their feedings, and in the smack dab middle of their epic wars. The one with the more sympathetic whine got my attention after I figured out what happened to 2,500 lbs of coconut milk for our ice cream business. The one with the bigger goose egg on his forehead got my love after I talked to a loved going through a terrifying hospital admission. The bloody finger was kissed and Band Aided while I congratulated a friend about her engagement.
I kept up on the news (are they definitely anti-choice Nazi youth, or just probably Nazi youth? Will the women be safe who are running for president? Are we white people STILL not understanding how revolutionary and threatening MLK was to white status/supremacy back then, and not realizing our opposition to similar civicl rights movements now is the same damned thing??) while I made chili.
I took both kids (two, there are two of them, why) to the grocery store, cleaned the house a little, and helped them make “art” which means that a gob of purple glue-stick now lives in the back pocket of the jeans I’m wearing as I write this.
I’m not very good at managing the groceries of our home, since it’s one of the duties my husband was doing for years while I…wasn’t. So we now have nine bottles of vegan mayonnaise and very little toilet paper. Someone please tell me how we can make THAT work for a few days so I don’t have to go back to a grocery store, because I hate that place. Is there a way we can put mayonnaise on some newspaper ads from our recycling bin to make some sort of paper mâché toilet paper?
No, right? Maybe? God, what would Pinterest say? Or, rather, what would a more organized, better mom who bothers to have a Pinterest account, say?
The husband in question pointed out the whole mayo/TP dilemma when he got home, and I got angry and stormed out to take the big one to his climbing lesson.
Apparently I was not successfully hiding my tear-this-mother-fucker-down feelings very well, because the first fellow mom I ran into said delicately, ‘How’s your day going? It looks like it’s been kind of rough.’ I snarled sweetly and walked away to find comfort in writing for a while, but when I went to turn on my computer, it was dead and these FITNESS HIPPIE FREAKS don’t believe in electrical plugs, it seems. I’m sure it’s because I should be charging my shit by solar power or olive oil matches, or carry a technologically slicker solution with me like a portable charger that uses armpit hair energy…but I don’t have any of that and the only plug I found is on a wall of wooden cubbies, between what is clearly the employee poop bathroom and the door to the outside (it’s 15 degrees right now, up from -4 this morning).
So. Here I sit. Cold and Awkward (<– The name of my memoir).
And after this whole day- following a weekend where I traveled across the state with one kid to sell ice cream and spend time with my extended family- you know what my take-away will be?
I buy too much mayonnaise. Our whole arrangement will fall apart because I’m not good enough.
BUT, there’s hope for me yet.
I’m only 96 pages into the book, “Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward” by Gemma Hartley.…(which is another thing I feel guilt about. I started a book club, with the intention to discuss it in freaking December, and I haven’t even finished it myself. Because….see above. )
…and I’ve gotten a lot out of this book so far. It’s so effective and full of well-researched insights and relatable antidotes. She highlighted a phenomenon I found incredibly apt: women’s roles in the house and family often end up being the ones they’re naturally good at, that make intuitive sense to them. Even if the duty SUPER SUCKS. So if girls/women are taught to be empathetic caretakers who anticipate other people’s needs, and boys/men are encouraged to look after themselves, seek fun and freedom, women end up with a longer list of chores that they’re “better at” and then they’re absorbed as their responsibilities for life.
We dismantled a lot of these over the past few years. How I didn’t really know how to be selfish, or even to consider what I liked/wanted because others’ needs were aways first, etc…how Robb would “help” when I delegated, but wouldn’t anticipate what needed to be done for other members of the family, etc….I’m glad I’m reading it now, after he took so much more care of house/family/emotional responsibilities (like groceries) the past few years while he wasn’t working full-time. I would have straight up murdered him in the neck if I had read this a few years ago. He knows this. We laugh about it. Him, with a hand delicately covering his neck just in case.
I will have much more to say about this book, as I go. I highly recommend reading it, if you aren’t already (here’s a snippet of the topic). Jump on this site’s Facebook page to discuss it with us. @bigtroubleblog. If it goes well, we might tackle other books as well.
Oh! Another big take-away: emotional labor is a skill, it needs to be honed, and it needs to be valued. I’m hella good at it. I don’t miss a lot of what people need, what would make things run smoother, what would bring joy and sooth pain. I am constantly hustling on all fronts. And I can’t possibly be ALSO good at everything else that needs to be done. I need to give myself credit instead of dismiss all the care I provide people just because I’ve always done it and it comes fairly easy. It’s not THAT easy. It’s work.
So, fuck groceries. I’m not good at those. Look at all the other things I’m accomplishing for my art, myself, my kids, my husband, our business.
He has generously agreed to take back over the groceries, because otherwise we’ll end up being a house built on vegan mayonnaise and shame.
We work daily on distribution of duties, and examining who does what, and most importantly…why?
More soon. Thanks for “listening.” I feel a little less rage-y than when I sat down.
Here’s a picture of the employee poop bathroom (yes, it’s occupied). And me and my double chins that I’m not even going to apologize for because they’re keeping me warm. Thank you, mayonnaise.