I went outside tonight to clear my muddled thoughts; the wind and I had a good talk. I couldn’t think inside, where all my guilt lay – it was smothering me like a thick blanket, musty and stuffy, but the wind blew my thoughts clear and let them reorganize and settle so I could see them laid out before me. I think I should go sit in the wind more often. The trouble with thoughts laid bare is that they are not always pleasant. The truth, or truth as it may seem at midnight, is often NOT pleasant. My thoughts tonight were not pleasant. Not of a disturbing sort, but of a depressing and self-evaluating sort. I suppose I should speak to the wind more often for these night-time evaluations, for I have a fear of a lonely funeral, with an obituary that has not much to say because the list of good qualities and deeds was so short. Nobody lists the depressing things in an obituary. But that’s for much later in my life – in fact, the end of my life, whenever that may be. Tonight my thoughts were on myself, which is another unfortunate place to lay your thoughts – it seems wasteful and selfish to take time to consider yourself, inside and out, when you know that nobody else in the world is really considering you, for they are too busy considering themselves. But since I was the only one awake, I had to do it alone. I came to a few meandering conclusions, which I cannot neatly sum up because they are hardly concrete an only barely put into discernable form. But I’ll try, simply to be cathartic.
The generally summary is that I am not, nor will I ever be, enough. I am not a very good mother; I do love my children, but I am not a very good mother, and those are two very different things. I’m not saying they would be better with anyone else because I think that is untrue. They both love me so unfailingly, in spite of my countless faults; a sweet, naïve love that does not count the number of fish stick lunches and short-tempered flare-ups. It's good for us to be together, but it would be better if I were better. I am also a very poor housekeeper, to put it plainly. I love having a home, and I like to see it clean, but I dislike putting forth the effort it requires to keep our house looking the way I really love it to look. I don’t mind doing one cleaning project at a time, but the overwhelming number of projects and the never-ending cycle makes me put it aside for a few more minutes, during which another project gets added to the list. I don’t wash the frying pan after breakfast and before I know it, it’s time for lunch and now I have TWO frying pans to wash, which makes me even less inclined to roll up my sleeves. Perhaps it is laziness, perhaps it is merely complacency (not that complacency is not a sin, I am intimately acquainted with my sins), but it certainly is an unappealing character trait and even I am disgusted at myself that I can turn my back on a sink full of muddy dishes that is beginning to smell. That is bad when you are disgusted at yourself. The wind understood me, though, and did not complain. My dear, sweet, loving husband also listened before he went to bed, though it was admittedly his complaints that brought me to my knees. On-edge and grumpy from the moment I got home from work, where I thought I was doing my best to support our family without deserting our family, he claimed repeatedly that he was fine… until the moment he discovered an accidentally broken DVD, when he was admittedly no longer just fine. “We” are careless with our things, and blame must be placed, a millstone of guilt hung shamefully around your neck, and the neck must always be mine because I am the only one who is always home. Even on nights when I am at work, I was home the rest of the day so the evening’s difficulties are my own fault.
I try to be a good wife. I explained again to him tonight my theory of my ring – he gave me a stunning 1-carat solitaire when he proposed marriage and I vowed then, to myself, that I would not let down my end of the bargain – I would be a 1-carat wife. I would serve him hot homemade meals in a clean dining room on clean dishes, and he would be seated surrounded by happy children, clean and well-clothed, and next to a happy wife who had done her hair that day. He works so hard at his job to provide me the opportunity to be this person, he puts stock in me because he believes I will put it back in him. But what am I? What do I do? I have just admitted my failings of home and motherhood, which means I must rightfully admit my failings as a wife, though there is nothing in the world I strive so hard to be as a good wife. I do not clean my home because I enjoy cleaning or because it brings me any great personal satisfaction; I clean my home “so that daddy can be happy when he gets home,” I tell our sons. When daddy is unhappy at home it is because, in her heart, mommy knows she is a failure and has not lived up to her personal vow. Daddy says it’s not true, but the implied and accusing “you” instead of “we” when discussing that carelessness speaks for itself. I told him how embarrassed I am, how terribly guilty I feel when he does housework. I blush when he picks up the broom to sweep the kitchen; I feel a knot grow in my ever-expanding belly when he picks up a fallen chair. He says this should not be true because he is not unhappy to help, but then I know this is untrue because he does not help unless he is unhappy. He does not sweep unless the sandy floor is driving him nuts. He does not pick up the chair unless it has lain lonely and neglected for over a week with no justifiable cause. “We (you) are so careless with things,” yet just last week I threw away a new bucket that was full of hardened mortar that he had not rinsed out, ruining the bucket. I tossed out a wooden airplane, a gift for a 12-year old that was purchased for a toddler, yet he was upset when the toddler broke its wing. Even the crusted bucket of mortar bears my seal of guilt, though, for I should have been able to work on the bathroom while he at his never-ending job, or perhaps I should have rinsed it out for him as the least that I could do after he did such an amazing job laying tile during those long evenings after work. But I didn’t, and the mortar hardened, and I am continually careless and wasteful. The jesting phrase “this is why we don’t have nice things!” felt heavy and burdensome tonight, and my laugh was only one of mild hysteria as I sat crying in the night, repeating “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” And really, that’s it – I don’t know. Don’t know why I am still crying, don’t know why I began crying in the first place – Joe was so good to bring down his walls and talk to me, where I know 3 years ago we would have gone to bed in silence and the gloom would have lasted for days. His reward, of course, is a snotty nose and red-rimmed eyes from a woman who should pull herself together and just clean the house and cook the meals and do her hair and dress the kids, but I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know… I don’t know what else to do.
So tonight what I need to do is let go. What can I let go of that doesn’t hurt any of the things that are already suffering at my careless hand? I cannot be more lax on the house or Joe will surely go insane, I can’t be less interested in our children because they are already ones who need my attention MORE, and I can’t backpedal and become a worse wife because that defeats everything. One big thing that I can give up is blogging. I’ve spent so much time typing this out tonight, which was cathartic for me even as it cast a dreary light on me and my marriage, which is actually NOT dreary (but who would believe me after this?), but blogging takes time it is pretty addictive. A seemingly easy way to pass 5 minutes, but 5 minutes turns into 50 and suddenly we’re back to having waffles again for dinner because I didn’t drag myself away from the computer to cook something healthy, and Joe is coming home to a messy house where toys get stepped on and broken. So I am taking a personal-growth hiatus until at least October. If I can grow into the responsible adult I should be, though, where the “to do” list gets shorter rather than longer by the end of the day, I might let myself come back for some quick updates on the boys. No long ravings about myself, I promise. In the meantime, feel free to stop by our house, I will have a much cleaner home to visit and things will be taken care of for once; perhaps I’ll even have to drop the self-deprecating housewife humor if I find I am decent at cleaning. So good night and goodbye.