We had fun this morning at the McDonald's PlayPlace with a friend from church who has a daughter close to the same age as Griffin. We had never had a play date together before, but it was a lot of fun! Well, for US it was fun; we got to sit and chat as women like to do. Mike, on the other hand, was run ragged as he chased Sammy from one thing to the next, attempting to keep him clean and out of harm's (and the other diners') way.
They are all upstairs napping now (or maybe Mike is watching poker on TV). It is the earliest nap the boys have had in a while, so we'll see how long they sleep. They might just have to take an afternoon nap as well! Oh, dear. Whatever shall I do while they sleep? Maybe I'll read! Or maybe I'll just sit here and write.
There are a lot of "mom's groups" online that are easy to get sucked in to, and I have found myself wasting many a naptime glued to the computer screen reading other people's opinions, beliefs and points of view, when I really just need to focus on living my life, and let other people do what they want to with their lives. I would love to type a message in the forum that would change the course of the world, but I think the best changes that I can affect in other peoples' lives will come through just living my life the best I can. Perhaps when I turn 60 I will have enough material to write the Great American Novel.
I believe that sending a heartfelt, handwritten letter to someone is a much better form of communication than shooting off a quick e-mail that will be forgotten a few hours after I write it. Now I just need to actually write those letters. I have written a few, and was amused because I always received a response by e-mail. I don't mind, of course, because I get fulfillment from writing the letter, probably as much as or more than the person receiving my letter gets. I know the person on the receiving end is most likely grateful for the amusement of getting something other than junk mail or bills in their mailbox.
I feel so connected to people on the internet, when in all actuality I wouldn't recognize many of those same people if I passed them in the produce department of the grocery store. It is amazing what a short visit with a friend will do to remind me how powerful face-to-face contact is with the people I love. Sure, you can say more online, but as Sabrina Fairchild says in one of my favorite movies of all time (Sabrina, of course), "More isn't always better, Linus, sometimes it's just more."
I had a wonderful conversation with a good friend last night about simplifying our lives, reducing clutter both mental and physical, and not succumbing to the pervasive American philosophy that in order to be happy, you need more things; you need the latest and greatest that society has to offer. The attitude that everyone seems to have is that if you don't have the best that is available, you aren't good enough as a person. You are lacking in some area, and will never be completely fulfilled until you have this thing that everyone else wants.
Well, what if I thought my life was good enough without it? Would I be looked down upon by everyone else? Of course not. Most people would envy my contentment, and then go out and buy it themselves and find out that wow, it didn't really make them as happy as they thought it would. Or maybe it did make them happy, but that happiness faded when the thing they had so lovingly purchased and carefully placed in their home lost its value when something "better" replaced it on the store's shelves.
What if they had not purchased it in the first place? Would they have feelings of inferiority, or perhaps feel like they weren't worth as much? Most likely not, because there will always be an opportunity to buy something else that is "worth more" in the near future, and then everyone else who actually did go out and buy the coveted item will be in the same boat as the person who didn't buy it at all!
Why do I want to eat out so much? I know I'm shifting gears a bit here, but it's my blog, I can do whatever the heck I want to here! I just want to explore this a little bit. Sometimes I think better while I write.
I love to eat out. I just do. It doesn't matter if it is a fancy restaurant or McDonald's. There is just something about the fact that there are so many choices available to me, and I can have anything I want, and don't have to settle for what is in my refrigerator. And, of course, it means more money for the restaurant, so they are more than happy to serve you (I like making people happy), and will get you whatever you want, most of the time very quickly. On the other hand, at home if I want something to eat it is up to me to look through the cabinets/refrigerator/freezer/garage (the garage is looking more and more like a grocery store with every trip to Costco) and put the ingredients together to make a meal. And then there is the issue of dishes. They have to be washed. And the pans you cooked in have to be cleaned. And the table cleared and wiped off, and the highchair cleaned off. And sometimes the floor even needs to be cleaned after a meal with two little boys. And the kitchen is usually a mess after a meal is cooked, so that needs to be cleaned up too.
If I go out, I pack up the boys (they can even be barefoot) into the van, drive to a restaurant (as long as it has a drive-through or "carside to go" available), order my food, pay, and it is handed to me, neatly packaged in disposable (but not necessarily biodegradable) containers, with nifty little plasticware/napkin things. I get every condiment I might possibly need stuck into my bag, so I know I won't have to actually get out of my seat to get anything while I am in the process of enjoying my food. I drive home, and we have a system. I get the boys into the house, leaving the food in the car. Griffin climbs into his chair, and Sammy gets strapped into the high chair. Then I go out to the van and bring the food in. We sit down, eat a few bites, Griffin remembers that we need to pray, so we fold our hands. "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food" we pray together with bowed heads and closed eyes. Then Sammy looks intently at his hands, with his fingers so carefully entertwined, and says "Tank-oo" (thank you). That's his prayer for now.
We dig in to our food, and when we are done eating, Griffin says "May I get down please?" He climbs down, pushes his chair in automatically (what a good boy!) and goes on with his life. I get Sammy down, wipe off his tray, gather up the trash and throw it away. This is usually the extent of the cleaning-up I have to do.
When I cook, I have to plan the meals (2-3 hours per week), shop for the groceries (2 hours per week), prepare and cook the food (14 hours per week, on average), and clean up the mess (7 hours per week). Each meal, on average, takes an hour or more to execute from beginning to end. That's about 25 hours a week. That's over half of a full-time job!
So how much is my time and my family worth? Are they worth enough to me that I should spend this much time and effort every day doing something that could be done much more easily by someone who doesn't care a whit about them? Of course they are worth it!
When my boys grow up, I hope they will remember their Mom being happy to be in the kitchen preparing meals, setting the table for each meal, and even doing other things like laundry, scrubbing floors, vacuuming, washing windows, dusting, and all of the other mundane things that it takes to keep a home and family running smoothly. I have a tendency to get bogged down in what I am doing so much that it is easier for me to push them aside and tell them to "Go play while Mommy does this," or "Stay out of the way!" or just rush through "the job" in a huff, expressing myself angrily when anything gets in my way or slows me down.
But what is life, if not a series of small chores that need to be done on a daily basis? Each time I do something with a cheerful spirit, it gets a little bit easier to do it the next time. I am going to write another sentence here, just to make this a full paragraph, because technically each paragraph should have at least three sentences in it.
I had a particularly rough day yesterday, most likely due to the fact that it is almost time for a visit from my little monthly friend. I couldn't find my Midol. The boys, once again, woke up before I did. Sammy wanted me to hold him all day long, and I had a hard time getting things done to prepare for some friends coming over for dinner. I was uptight all day long, and I know that made the boys crankier, which in turn aggravated me even more.
And then I think about women who desperately want children who can't have them. I think about women who work all day to help support their families and come home and have to do everything I do, only they have to cram it all into their precious evening and weekend hours. I think about women whose husbands don't care enough about their families to hold on to a job, or spend what money they do make on alcohol, other women, or gambling. I think about women who live with men who abuse them and sometimes even their children. I think about women who live in shelters who can't even give their children food to eat, much less spend time in their very own kitchen with a full set of matching stainless steel cookware.
And I wonder what right I have to complain at all.