I was listening to Germaine Greer on Q the other day. She was talking about a documentary called The F word about the state of feminism, which I haven’t yet had the chance to see. But there was a point she made during her interview that really has me thinking. She talked about how one of the problems facing women today is the sheer amount of work – we work outside the home and then we return home and there’s more work to do. Not exactly a revelation – but then she made the point that when walking around her neighbourhood she passes doors and knows that behind each one mothers are labouring on almost identical tasks for their 1.2 children. She said that there has to be a way to somehow join efforts, but that in many ways women are still competing against each other instead of working together.
Maybe the point about competition is a bit unfair, but it definitely has me thinking. Every night I make dinner for four (well to be fair, J makes it sometimes too). It would be no harder to make dinner for eight, bring one to my neighbour and have her bring us dinner the next night. But I don’t really know my neighbour, which is one problem, so I’d never ask. I’m sure I have friends across town who’d do it, but driving dinner across town becomes more of a chore than anything else. Division of labour is a lynch pin of our economy, but we rarely use it at home – or do we? Does anyone else have ideas on how to divide and share labour more effectively at home?
You can listen to the podcast of the episode on CBC’s site. Unfortunately they use some weird Flash thing so I can’t figure out how to link directly to the podcast, but all the episodes are here. Greer appeared on the March 3, 2011 show.
Sometimes I’m wandering around the house, cleaning up cars for the eightieth time after the kids have gone to bed, and I stumble upon these little scenes of life at our house. Little reminders of their habits. I take so many pictures of the kids, but as great as it is to have a close-up of a baby, sometimes it’s nice to just capture the context.
Right now P loves letters. He recognises most of them, and knows the sounds, but hasn’t yet made the giant leap to stringing them all together. It occurred to me that there are so many parts to reading – learning the letters is one thing, but you also have to learn, for example, that you read left to right, that you can’t just jumble them up in any order, or that words are predefined, not just made up on the spot.
P loves to string letters together for me to “read” them, and I found this scene on our dinner table last night. As you can see, he spelled “Phrbomvqqmnkzadnutxiltcgm.”
What do I carry with me? A big stuffed black bag, but it’s never enough. I’ve been known to text friends in the vicinity of where I’m going to say “Can you meet me outside the community centre? I forgot my wipes!” Sometimes I forget snacks too, and my son chows down on a dry cracker while looking up at me and saying “But I’m hungry Mama!”
I carry worries with me too. At first I tried to stop myself from worrying, afraid that I would attract negativity in my life. But it proved impossible. “Worry is the work of motherhood” said one of my pregnancy books. And so I embraced it. For a while I thought if I thought about it, it was unlikely to happen. So I tried to worry about every possible thing that might happen, knowing that if I considered it, it would probably never occur. Would Grandma drop P in the bath while I was gone? Would the daycare provider hold his hand tightly when he crossed the street? Would the sitter let M play with the toddler toys that have too many small pieces? I roll over all the possibilities in my mind, almost as if I could just think it, I could prevent it.
Despite all this baggage, I think there are some things I’m good at not carrying. Guilt. If worry is the work of motherhood, then guilt is the cranky colleague – always looking over her shoulder and second-guessing her. Don’t feed the baby that Mum-mum – there’s no nutrition in it! You shouldn’t have let her cry for so long in the back of the car! Your son hits you? You must be doing something wrong to have a kid who hits you! You work? You stay at home?? When I hear that little voice I push it away – I throw it away, along with the used up wet wipes, the soggy diapers, the pieces of paper and pinecones my son collects along the road on the way to the park. And some of the time, I succeed.
Dressew is more than a fabric store, it’s a Vancouver institution. Located on East Hastings, not far from the infamous Main & Hastings intersection, it’s a relic of a past time. The lights are fluorescent, the floor is dingy white linoleum and the place is floor to ceiling full of supplies for sewing, knitting and quilting. On a typical weekday it is buzzing, with bespectacled senior citizens leaning over quilting supplies, well-dressed men in shiny shoes poring over home dec fabrics, girls barely out of their teens dressed like runway models choosing buttons. You might even see a mommy with a sleeping baby on her back.
The place isn’t the best for modern fabrics – although I noticed some Amy Butler and Michael Miller. But if you’re looking to make some clothes or bags, or there are tons of options – canvas, denim, fleece, flannel, bits of leather and a whole aisle of upholstery fabric. But since it’s hard to rummage through fabric with a baby in a carrier, I find the real joy of the store is the bottom floor. Holy cow. Buttons and buttons and buttons in every possible imaginable colour. Another aisle of zippers! Next time I’ll work up the courage to take some photos inside. The buttons would blow your mind. And supplies at rock bottom prices. I picked up a narrow (gridless) self-healing mat for $4.99 and a small quilting ruler for $2.99. I found quilting pins for 99 cents. Extra seam ripper for 25 cents (at my level you can never have too many!)
I’ve heard that Dressew might be closing soon, or that it’s struggling. It isn’t apparent to me from the dozens of people that have been in there the last two times I’ve shopped there. But if it’s true, it will be devastating for the city. I don’t think there’s another store with this variety of stuff in the city limits, let alone the downtown core. I do buy a lot of things online, but I definitely make the effort to support this and other bricks and mortar fabric stores. Online shopping is great, but there are times when you need to feel the fabric, or buy some random supply you didn’t even realise you needed until you saw it on sale for 35 cents.
When M slept 8 hours at just a few months of age, I thought I had it made. This baby was going to be different… she would sleep! She has yet to repeat her 8 hour trick. I think maybe it’s not them, it’s me. I broke her, because I like to cuddle with her at night, and now she doesn’t want to do without the cuddle. Or maybe she’s just a typical eight-month old hitting her separation anxiety stage. Oh but wait, she’s been doing this for four months. Hm.
She does not like to sleep, at least not unless someone is very close to her. I do have my moments of frustration, especially when she wakes up before I’ve even finished clearing up dinner, where I just want to scream “GO TO BED!” at my poor blinky-eyed baby, her lip quivering in her little pink sleeper. But at least this time I know it doesn’t last forever. Soon she’ll sleep through a jackhammer, just like her big brother. Or maybe she’ll put herself to sleep playing with her cars. And then she’ll regress and want you to stay with her every night because she’s afraid of the dark, or the “blinking noise” (I think it’s the furnace.) And then she’ll sleep through the night a stretch, and then she won’t. This sleep thing, it’s not linear. And I guess deep down, I like my snuggles more than I like my sleep. Just wish I could have both.
Had a mini-l@w school reunion recently with my “small group” classmates. These are folks who I saw every single day, in every single class first year. I must admit, I have lost touch with many as I’ve dipped in and out of the workforce on my two maternity leaves. It was so much fun to see them all – all grown up, absolutely looking the part. We’re not even four years out, but I’ve got classmates working high-profile criminal cases, starting their own firms, leaving high-profile l@w jobs to run start-ups, and more. It’s so exciting to all of us actually became practising lawyers and most of them are working in the fields they wanted to be in. Even people whom I remember talking to about their uncertainty about the l@w, or who were worried about finding positions. We all did it! I have no idea if it’s representative of the school, or the particular time that we graduated, but it really made me quite proud.
P brings home lots of art from daycare. I often wonder how much of a hand he had in it because he does not like to draw much. He does enjoy gluing things to other things. Most of it gets hung up, at least temporarily, in our kitchen, then I take a picture of it and eventually recycle it. Every once in a while he brings home a piece that just breaks my heart, in the best way. I don’t know what it is about this bunny – the one ear, the sad little frown, the bits of toilet paper still clinging to the roll. But this one is being stored in the treasure box.