I never do anything fully, so I never do anything at all. This phrase popped up in my journal this morning. It’s a restless day, a day for the stay at home mums (as if any mum is genuinely a ‘stay at home’ mum now – we’re all too busy attending sensory/swimming/playdates). But it is stay at home today, because of an unexpected and very beautiful snow fall which is now into its fourth hour. Plus my son (I have a son now, eight months) is asleep in his chair and the house is more or less tidy and yes I’ve changed the TV License so well done me.
Stay at home – what sort of image do these phrases conjure up? Home …comfort, home …safe, home ….sweet home. Stay ….put, stay …still, stay ….calm. All lovely and soothing if taken in isolation but far from accurate depictions of my experience. When I genuinely am a stay at home mum (i.e today), these connotations are kind of soporific; I totally understand how people become sofa-locked when they are ‘stay at home’.. We become children – we work on a task and reward basis and if I ‘stay at home’ too long, the task reward ratio becomes ever slighter. Day 1: I tidy out the drawers, freeze several meals and sort out life insurance, therefore, I shall meditate for half an hour and make a pot of tea. Day five: I haven’t watched television for an hour, therefore I shall watch television for an hour. You see? Who is the bigger baby here? When my son is awake, he is active, engrossed. Sometimes I lose half a day being ‘stay at home’, dreaming of the things I’ll do when I’m not stay at home in the same way that, out and about, I dream of the things I’ll do when I’m ‘stay at home’ again. Plus ca change.
This is not self-criticism, but written more in the spirit of acceptance. The day is busy, but busy in a way that I never thought I would find busy – with dishes and nappies and stacking cups. Being temporarily sofa-locked, I am going to wildly paraphrase here, but I’m thinking of the section in The Golden notebook when Doris Lessing writes about a change in her heroine’s character, when she moved from appreciating a certain hour as when day turns into night to seeing it as the ‘time to put the vegetables on’. The day can be meted out thus; but it is no bad thing, it is how things are, for now.