Friday, November 16, 2012

Keeping up with the Joneses

Let me tell you a little bit more about my neighbor--the one who told me to exchange my Calphalon cookware that pretty much spawned The Good Housewife Project.  I just met her this summer, and we hit it off right away--in the military, you either make friends quickly, or you are a loner...and you can reinvent yourself from duty station to duty station or even year to year, because people come and go so frequently.  Last year at this same duty station, I was a bit of a loner--with the kids' ages, it was hard for me to get out as frequently as the other moms in our neighborhood, and my kids were too little to play on the bigger, more social playground outside our houses.  I was either stuck in my house during naptime, or alone with the boys at the little playground (dragging Abby reluctantly there with us when her friends were at the big kid playground).  I'm making more of an effort this year to be social and make friends--the boys are a little older, so we are slightly more flexible...and we got a new crop of neighbors who have been making it easier for me.  Dan works with my neighbor's husband and considers him his best work buddy (or, as my neighbor and I say, they are work spouses...ha ha), so it helps that our kids play well together and she and I get along well.  She is really a way that can make me feel like I don't know what I'm doing.  :)

Little Playground fun for my 3 Musketeers

You never know what goes on behind closed doors, even with your good friends, but I get the feeling that she spends really great, quality time with her kids...and that makes me feel both impressed and insufficient!  We both stay at home, but I literally stay at home a lot--whereas my neighbor is constantly on the go.  I get it--I loved Ohio so much because I was constantly on the go, and exposing Abby to so many different people and activities really made me a better parent to her, as did the friendships I made through our moms' group there.  Here, I haven't really gotten into an on-the-go groove--with three kids, it's a lot harder for me to balance.  Jake and Alex both still take naps (long ones, if I'm lucky!), so I need to be home in time for lunch and naptime.  I also need to be home every day for the morning and afternoon bus stop runs to get Abby.  And then there are the kids' activities--Abby's dance and gymnastics, and Jake's gymnastics, all during the week.  I just feel a lot more tied to the house than I did when I had fewer, non-school-aged kids.  And sometimes I stay home by choice--like I said, I haven't been in the best head space for the last year or more, so getting up and going is hard when you just don't feel like it.  There's always the excuse of laundry and cleaning and cooking (okay, maybe not cooking for me) that keeps me in the house more than out.  But my neighbor doesn't seem constrained by these things--granted, she has one fewer kid than I do, but we live in the exact same house (right next door to each other), so I know what she faces in terms of housework!  She would be the last one to say that she has it all together, but I'm always really impressed with what she has going on...and that makes me wonder if I should have that going on, too.

Our houses--I'm in the middle, and my awesome neighbor is to the right

Today, I'm ordering pizza for dinner.  It's Friday, I'm tired, and the kids (and Mommy and Daddy!) all love pizza.  We haven't ordered it in a while, so it's kind of a treat.  And, I'm feeling a little guilty because I'm going out tonight for a "girls' night"--I rarely go out at all, much less go out before the kids are in bed like I'm doing tonight, so maybe I'm bribing my family with pizza so that they'll be happy with me before I ditch them and make them cry (Dan may cry the hardest at having to do the bedtime routine by himself--sorry, honey!).  I told my neighbor that I was ordering pizza, and she said, "You should blow Dan away and make your own pizza crust--it's super easy!  I just made some for tonight--all you need is flour, yeast, salt, and water!"  My immediate response to her was, "Yeah, that's just not my thing--as soon as you said 'yeast,' I mentally checked out."  As the words were coming out of my mouth, though, I thought about The Project.  Does The Project mean that making pizza dough from scratch should be my thing?  Does making my own pizza dough make me a Good Housewife?  I don't know the answer to those questions, nor do I know what I'm supposed to do once I have freshly baked homemade pizza crust (how do you do the cheese and the toppings?  I don't keep cheese on hand...what kind of cheese do you even use on pizza?  I'm sure Pinterest could help me here)...but I didn't say that to my neighbor.  We were having this conversation sitting on her couch watching the kids play, while enjoying some homemade chocolate graham crackers that she had just pulled out of the oven.  Seriously.  I wasn't sure how ignorant of this whole housewife thing I could prove to be without her kicking me out of her house.

This is my idea of "make your own pizza"  :)

This brings me to my current dilemma:  Does The Good Housewife Project mean I should be trying to keep up with my neighbors and do all the fancy housewifely things that they do, or does being a Good Housewife mean different things to different families?  My neighbor doesn't do all her family's laundry--I do (not that I'm necessarily proud of that fact...bragging that your husband helps you do laundry is way cooler than bragging that you do it all yourself, in my opinion).  Does that mean that in order to be a Good Housewife, she should be doing all her family's laundry?  In her family, no.  I need to figure out what makes me a Good Housewife in my family--that may very well include making pizza dough from scratch (and I think my neighbor is going to make sure that I at least attempt it, and for the sake of The Project and ensuring she doesn't think I'm a total idiot, I will), but it may also include ordering pizza every once in a while to give everyone a break.  I think my current definition of a Good Housewife also has to include some verbiage about being good to myself (can you be a Good Housewife if you're not a Happy Housewife?  Maybe in the 1950's, but I'm not sure I can), and for me, that could mean having some boundaries and not trying to do it all (from scratch!).

1 comment:

  1. No! Do what is best for you and your family. I could maybe make pizza crust (mozzarella, by the way) :) but there is no way that I'm making graham crackers. I have those (Facebook) friends too that seem to do everything, but I just can't hack it. I *could* make graham crackers, but I would much rather do other things.