My friend, Jenny, and I both had commitments to watch someone else’s kids last night, so we decided to consolidate our tasks and hang out together in the process.
And, wow, what a night.
At one point we had seven toddlers under the age of four running around! I actually find this sort of thing fun, though exhausting. I actually went to bed before midnight last night (doesn’t happen often).
Jenny brought along a great wine for us to share after most of the kids were in bed, admittedly chosen only for the label: Mad Housewife! It wasn’t the smoothest red I’ve had, but it’s definitely worth buying just to display the bottle somewhere in your home! The back of the label reads:
Somewhere near the cool shadows of the laundry room.
Past the litter box and between the plastic yard toys.
This is your time.
Time to enjoy a moment to yourself.
A moment without the madness.
The dishes can wait.
Dinner be damned.
We had so much fun last night – changing diapers in shifts and taking turns as the tickle monster – that it got me thinking about other ways to share the burden of otherwise isolating or mundane tasks, making them a bit more fun.
For instance, before Thomas was born I had an ‘errand swap’ arrangement going with one of my friends – she watched Ruthie on Tuesday morning while I went grocery shopping or to my OB appointments, and I watched her kids on Thursday morning while she ran errands. It was a great way to run those multiple errands where you’re in and out of your car several times.
Several years ago when we were both first married, that same friend and I did a housecleaning swap. Every Friday we’d meet at someone’s house to clean the bathroom, kitchen, and do the vacuuming, and the next Friday we’d do the same at the other’s house. At the time, we both lived in small apartments, and working together we were able to clean an entire apartment in about an hour. It was fun, and motivating, and a great way to hang out when married life gets busy with other things.
My other friend and I have also talked about next Spring when our yards and gardens are overgrown from the Winter’s neglect. We’ve talked of taking turns on a couple of Saturdays helping each other weed, prune, and prepare our vegetable gardens – a job that may take all day alone, but much less time when working together. Plus our kids can play, and our husbands can make dinner for us, and there is so much fellowship that happens with sharing these kinds of tasks.
I think it’s easy for wives and mothers to feel isolated from others. As our lives become more complicated, our spare time is continually shrinking, and it becomes increasingly difficult to connect with other people. For many of us, our only friends are the people we work with, or if we stay home with preschoolers, we may not even have that luxury.
I think about the gal who baby sits all the children at my gym. She has a 10 month old, and almost every day that I’m in there she has another question for me – When did your kids start walking? Do your kids keep taking their shoes off? What do you do for teething pain? Is it hard having two kids so close in age? I just get the feeling that since she’s asking a complete stranger these questions, she must not have many other people in her life who understand her frustrations and insecurities.
I have a Shakespeare quote on a matted photo of me with several of my friends that says, “I am wealthy in my friends.” I think up until recently I’ve taken my life for granted, assuming that everybody has lots of people in their lives to share the emotional load of being a wife and mother. But as my world expands more and more outside of my home and my church, I’m meeting other women who are more isolated than me.
It has simultaneously caused me to invite them into my world, and become more grateful for the women in my life who influence and support me. Friendships are important to me – I’m a deeply loyal person. When life gets busy and I don’t see my friends for some time, I begin to feel isolated.
Why not multitask by hanging out together while Getting Things Done? What if we started some kind of crazy, housewife revolution to get us all out of our own mundane lack of motivations? Hey, I’ll clean yours if you clean mine!