It’s -26 on a Saturday morning. Before I know that though, before I check the numbers on my weather app, I foolishly tell my son we will go skating today! This is my first mistake. There will be no skating.
My second mistake is deciding that because of the freezing weather, I might enjoy reading in bed for a bit longer than usual. A second cup of tea, a few extra chapters. It seems harmless, but it’s a mistake. Kids demand me to get out of bed, I feel lazy for being tired, protesting their protests and I remember why the term ‘week-end’ is misleading if you are a parent.
Somebody said ‘Well read women are dangerous women’ and these days I’m more inclined to think ‘Well read women are miserable women’ because is it just me or does the more you read make you a tiny bit more angry, a tiny bit more antsy, a tiny bit more frustrated at the uphill battle in all areas of life on this doomed planet? This sudden dark turn is arguably my next mistake, but anyway, as the day inches toward 9am, I make my 3rd mistake by looking up a book a friend had recommended. Fed Up by Gemma Hartley. The subject of the book speaks to me so loudly I read multiple reviews and watch an interview while simultaneously regretting having this additional knowledge in my brain. What’s the subject of the book? Something about emotional labour…
My next mistake, Mistake #4, is holding a family meeting with my children where I impart partial wisdom from Mistake #3 onto the kids in order to avoid children who grow up into adults who perform emotional labour for free. Although I don’t use the word emotional – I use observational. Also thoughtful. Also organizational. I focus on housework. The mistake is in not really planning what I want to say, so currently the kids have multiple definitions in their head about what observational/thoughtful/organizational labour means and after the meeting, we spread out and practiced my preaching by observing what needed attention/cleaning in the apartment.
Mistake #5 is letting loose my keen sense of observation and a tally of all the things I will tend to.
- The toilet paper rolls that never get replaced in the little toilet paper stand
- The weird slurping sound the dog has made for days because her water needs to be refreshed
- The soap/hair scum in and around the sink/toilet
- That piece of garbage that has been sitting in the middle of the hallway for 4 days that needs to be picked up and moved to the garbage
- The leftovers that need to be thrown out
- The sweater under the kitchen table that has fallen and stayed there for over a week
- The Christmas presents that don’t have a home, or that need to be mailed
- The picture that is hanging on an angle
- Watering the plants, tidying the pillows, vacuuming, picking up the tumbleweed hair balls that collect in corners, making the grocery list, taking out the frozen meat for dinner, planning for the following day so that it’s full but marginally restful, encouraging the kids to turn off Netflix, then having to do something with them, walking the dog, making lunch, having snacks ready, reading half a page of my book and feeling guilty, doing 50 leg lifts on one side and worrying that I won’t have the opportunity to do 50 leg lifts on the other side, and now I’m just going through my day, planning and watching myself and thinking about all the things that always have to happen.
Mistake #6 is the thought that it would help if I wrote all this nonsense down.
By 1pm, I face the afternoon, having promised my son we would paint his toy chest. Mistake #7 is choosing to listen to music (my music) while we paint, which sends my 11 year old into her room with a huff and leaves my son to comment on every. single. song. But the music makes me feel semi-independant, and levels my mood when things inevitably go sideways.
By 3pm, I have played two separate board games with two separate kids at separate times. I have completed three puzzles, finished two coats of paint on the toy chest, had a cup of tea, written a few sentences here and there, and journeyed with Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and Leon Bridges. I look to the evening, where surely mistakes # 8, 9 and 10 are waiting. I have dinner to face, a dish I am uneasy about and I’m starting to snap at the kids because it’s been too many hours, and there are too many left.
By the end of the day, my only hope is that my mistakes don’t leave any lasting marks, and that perhaps on Sunday I will wake up wanting to keep track of Triumphs, and find time to do those 50 leg lifts on the other side.