Sunday, March 14, 2010

Colour me surprised: I enjoy housework.

Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) involves a lot of repetition. Poopy diaper changed to clean diaper becomes poopy again. Dirty laundry is washed, hung on the line, folded, put away only to become dirty laundry again (often annoyingly balled up on the bedroom floor). Dinner is eaten leaving dirty dishes behind, the fridge devoid of recently purchased groceries and twenty-four hours later, dinner must be eaten again. Floor vacuumed, floor gritty again. Baby washed, baby eats therefore baby dirty. Baby fed, baby hungry again. Garbage taken out, garbage full again. Everyone knows that the life of a stay-at-home mom is fraught with repetition. Well, let's face it, repetition is part of most people's lives. Run 110 km in a week, overnight Sunday becomes Monday and BOOM! suddenly the bedraggled runner has run 0 kilometers that week.

I was always excited to change jobs this year from writing software to being a SAHM. I knew I would love the being-with-baby part of it. I did not relish all the other aspects of being a SAHM. The non-baby aspects: the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry etc. etc. I am flummoxed to find myself enjoying all of these repetitive tasks and I think I have put my finger on why. It comes down to the same reason (well one of the many reasons) I love running: healthy correlation between time invested and result. There are so many aspects of my life where time invested BARELY correlates with the result. Take my old job, I can spend hours trying to code a solution to a problem and have literally nothing to show for it. Take another one of my passions, creative writing, same deal. I can stare at a blank screen for hours and at the end of it all have exactly that, a blank screen. With running however there is a very healthy correlation between the amount of time invested and any quantifiable result one wishes to measure: number of kilometers run, race results etc. Similarly I know if I invest 5 minutes I can take out the garbage or the recycling or diaper the baby. 20 minutes and I'll have a clean kitchen or a bathed baby or a clean floor or folded laundry. An investment of 40 minutes nets me a home cooked meal or groceries in the fridge. Yes it is transient. Yes I'll have to do it again the next day (or depending on the task the next hour) but that doesn't change the fact that I accomplished a concrete result. It lets me cross something off the list until next time. It is analogous to logging those kilometers on the spreadsheet. There's something to be said for a strong correlation between time invested and result achieved.

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