Stevie is procrastinating. We do have plans to continue our recent religious debate, but my favorite atheist Jew has a TV program to script, children with activities, homes divided between zip codes, and well… a life. But me, I’m a relic from bygone days: I’m not busy. Today I accidentally locked myself out of the house, and sat for one hour in my bum-warming car enjoying the nothing-to-do-ness– the bald fact that I’m not vitally necessary. There will be no grave repercussions from missing my slow-cooker window. The children will not balk over untidied play spaces. Absolutely nothing hangs on my response to, attendance at, or opinion of anything; and truthfully, any busyness in my life is of my own making. But embracing my universal unimportance with contented calm came slowly.
I used to bristle when people asked me, “What do you do all day?” The never-ending childcare of small boys left me exhausted, oddly lonely, and waiting for a reasonable hour to pour a glass of wine. Anyone who asks a mom (or dad) on Daily Toddler DeathWatch to account for her time deserves the mother lode of snarky retorts. There were many times I squelched an urge to splash sauvignon blanc into the pretend-to-care face of the pant-suited bitch asking this infuriating question. But now, as my small people are bussed away for one third of every weekday, and my participation in the workforce a decade in the past, the question sounds valid. At a recent cocktail party, I was pressed to itemize my paycheck-less activities and realized, that over the years, two approaches to this question have evolved: Descriptive Torture and Boastful Sloth.
Because I used to be a medical sort of person and have science degrees and whatnot, I get, “Will you ever go back to work?” as often as Ben Stein hears, “Bueller?” Vaulted from the reproductive years, liberated from malignant cells, and unburdened by school age children for the greater part of the day, certainly I’ve considered doing something with myself now? Sure have. Lookie what blogging girl hath wrought today: The Unemployed Mommy Algorithm! All paths lead to responses that amuse me… or to cocktails. All good.
“WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?”
I’ll admit Boastful Sloth is more fun than Descriptive Torture. Even if I’m embellishing the mundane to the point of absurdity, the daily doings of stay-at-home-moms have a sort of chloroform effect. But if pressed to defend my day to a mom who works outside of the home (and employs a small team to outsource the mind-numbing labor), it’s only fitting I should trap her into listening to what she’s missing. I’ll bore her with line item descriptions of everything that happened from Teddy’s ill-timed, bus-missing poo, through crockpot recipes and laundry totals, right up to fraction-dividing extra credit math sheets, soccer halftime snack choices, and the great bathing debate (does swimming count?).
Those traveling down another path with this insidious query might inspire my best Boastful Sloth. This approach is more charming after four drinks. I can make days of yoga, pedicures, fancy lunches, garden tours, volunteer do-gooding, and home makeover projects sound super important and delightfully time-consuming. Who has time for a job with a beeper? I’ve got bulbs to plant and a squash lesson at 3. Ooh, and there’s my bringing-home-bacon husband over there! Yes, that devilishly handsome man fetching me another Prosecco. Isn’t he dreamy?
You’ll notice that I’m a little touchy about judge-y comments from other women. But, c’mon sisters, if we’re out of the house without the kids, let’s bond over the irritating idiosyncrasies of the smaller species. Let’s clink glasses, toasting a temporary reprieve from DeathWatch, diapers, wailing, and “Watch, mommy… watch THIS… watch me NOW!” And if you are gainfully employed, I want you to stop wearing pantsuits. I also want to know all about how working works, or doesn’t. It’s the (second) most important discussion in our lives at this moment, and peppering it with biased inquiries dishonors the conversation. (Please share the shitty, loaded questions thrown at you by drunk and/or annoying stay-at-homers!)
I know my activities aren’t essential, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re meaningless. And though my days aren’t demanding, I’ve got important stuff going on… like an international conversation about religion. And, well, also… maybe by summertime, an actual job-ish kind of thing. My cocktail chitchat may soon gain approval of The Busy People! And it’s kind of perfect in that I can work from home (no pantsuits) leaving plenty of time to draft algorithms. I’m going to need a new one.*
*algorithm, not pantsuit