I kept trying to keep up an old, defunct blog about health, wellness, fitness and the like and none of it did me any good. Every time I’d sit down to write, nothing would come to mind. I couldn’t even write something clever about what my current workout routine was or if I was training for a new race or something, because none of that was going on. Truth was, I couldn’t have been farther from my fit life.
So I’d think, OK I’ll talk about my regular life. But it was just the grind of up, shower, dress, off to school/work, home, dinner, baths, collapse. There’s nothing interesting in that. I know I wouldn’t bother to read it.
So I’d think about my kids. And in the next thought, I’d think, no, I’d rather retain their anonymity online. So I wrote nothing.
Over the last 3-4 years, I’ve been working full time, raising 1, now 2 little boys and getting my graduate degree part-time. All while trying to keep a household running and at some point, have a conversation with my husband and get to the gym.
As I’m writing this, I’m on maternity leave from my full-time job, I’m on leave of absence from grad school (I’m nearly complete) and I have very few obligations other than keeping my two tiny humans alive. And one of them goes to preschool full time.
Today’s my husband’s work-from-home day, and he and I had a conversation in the car after we dropped off my older son at preschool.
“Would you like to join the Tennis Club?” he asked as we drove past the sprawling, warehouse-shaped building surrounded by empty tennis courts on a brisk, nearly frosty, October morning.
“I would, and there are 3 reasons why.” I said. “A, because I love tennis and used to play competitively and I miss it. B, because I can see into the lobby through the window and it looks so 80s and it makes me nostalgic in a good way and C. because it would be fun to be able to say ‘I’m going to the tennis club.'”
I paused and almost considered sharing an anecdote he’s heard at least 5 or 6 times in the almost ten years we’ve been together, about the time I briefly worked at a tennis club and answered the front desk phone.
“Hello?” I’d answered.
“Hi, yes, do you have an all whites policy?” the caller had inquired.
Stunned, and with a tone of incredulity I responded, “Excuse me??” This was 2006 for goodness sakes.
Again he said, “Do you have an all whites policy?”
I didn’t know how to react, so I responded matter-of-factly. “No sir, anyone who joins the club is welcome to come here, regardless of race or skin color.” I couldn’t believe I had to answer this question in this day and age.
“Tennis whites. Do you require members to wear white. Clothes.” he said.
“Oh.” Yikes. “No, you can wear whatever you’re comfortable in.”
I stopped myself before I told the story again because I know he’s heard it before and I have a pretty annoying habit of telling the same anecdotes over and over and over again.
But it made me realize that having this unstructured time of hanging around the house, nursing a baby (while watching the entire series of Gilmore girls), and puttering has made me wake up again and feel an interest in rekindling a hobby such as tennis. (Or maybe it’s the 56oz of coffee I drink daily for stamina.) But either way, it has awoken what my true self is longing for. It’s like someone put back the Heart of Te Fiti and all of the sudden, I’m rising from the ocean with a calm expression of peace, clothed in verdant greens and adorned with tropical blooms. It feels like my mind has gotten off the proverbial hamster wheel long enough to realize that the life I came from (although lucrative) wasn’t at all what I longed for. That the life I was chasing (for whom?) could not have been less authentic to me.
If I think back to when I was a kid, the things I loved the most were spending time alone in my room, playing music, organizing, rearranging furniture, doing workout videos, journaling, baking. When you work full time, have 2 kids and are attending grad school part time, you do (I did) very little of that.
The freedom of being home alone (or with a newborn) during this unstructured time allows me to follow my own energies. If I’m tired, I nap. If I’m energized, I take on a project. I can remember things. I can think of others and proactively handle issues. I have time to make phone calls to chat.
The opposite of that when I’m not on maternity leave is that I’m exhausted, strung out, avoidant, rushed, forgetful, insensitive, disconnected and always, always 2 steps behind.
Which sounds better to you?
Now, the real question is how on earth does one make this their life and not go broke? The name of this blog is DC Homemaker. DC. Washington DC. One of the most expensive and powerful cities in the US. There’s no way for me to just work some odd jobs and keep the house and pay the taxes and afford the groceries, even on my husband’s salary. And how on earth could I answer the primary DC question What do you do? if I were a homemaker? This city, with its shortcomings, is our home.
So I’ll keep trying to find the life that is authentically mine. The homemaker who makes a dinner from scratch and has the time to play tennis and tell a funny/embarrassing anecdote. The homemaker who joyfully dotes on her children and has the mental and emotional space to encourage them, teach them, spark brilliance in them and be there with them as they weather their storms. The homemaker who finds time to organize and reorganize and tidy all while having dance parties with family and friends.