January 22, 2007


Today I did half-assed work at my mothering job. I let the twins watch television while I lay down on the bed and read a book. I should have given them a bath this morning, but instead I milled around on the internet. For lunch I gave them cheese cubes and graham crackers. I let William watch a boiling rice steamer with no rice in it for an hour, because I knew that if I let him do so, he would stop asking me to play with him. When Rob came home from school, I sent him and William outside to play, not for the healthy physical benefits but because I didn't want to talk to them right now.

I completed the bare minimum of tasks required to avoid getting fired. Everyone got something to eat at breakfast time and at lunch time. Everyone wore clothes. I got Rob off to school on time. I did a load of laundry because Paul was on his last pair of pants. I talked to William about not scalding himself with steam. I set the television to PBS Kids. But I did nothing that would put me up for a promotion, or that would lead others to consider me for an award. I would not be able to describe myself in an interview as a self-starter. I would not want social services or our pediatrician sitting behind one-way glass, observing my work.

I don't recommend this as a regular way of life, whatever job you're in, but I will say that occasional half-assedry is underrated as a coping mechanism. In my pre-motherhood working life, I would periodically have a day when I felt I should get extra credit for showing up to work at all, and would spend much of the day writing letters to friends, going to the bathroom and just sitting there thinking, making lists of motivating reasons to lose weight, chatting with co-workers, offering to go on coffee runs, etc. Work done: minimal. Guilt felt: minimal. I try to bring this philosophy to my new career as mother: the occasional day of uselessness is no big deal.


Karen said...

What a great post. I couldn't agree with you more. One of the perks of being home with your children is the occasional goof-off day. I swear, I think I had more of them when I was working full-time, so I'm not kicking myself for them and neither should you. This motherhood position is more draining than any desk job!

BenBirdy1 said...

And then I come here, Swistle, and it couldn't be easier to post. Sigh. I'm sorry about that.

I love the idea of embracing a bit of half-assedness.

Also "like wearing a shawl of 'sit down'"

This was just what I needed tonight. Thank you, Mama.

BenBirdy1 said...

p.s. comically, as soon as I wrote that, my evening degenerated into a Candid-Camera style episode of typing and retyping of odd strings of squinty-font letters. "Sure, you can type pgxrb but what about hpsxtyl? Hm?"

An epidemic of comment stymying.