Monday, February 21, 2011

Gold Stars and Gratification

Lately, I have been flipping pages in my giant, drawer-sized textbook called, "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook", and that means I am in the sweeps of another "awesome housewife streak."*
Sometimes I get in these moods where properly folding hospital corners on the guest bed is utterly exciting to me. Or when my homemade loaves of bread come out of the oven with just the right fluffiness and height, I could sing. (O, sometimes I do. Usually Motown).
You see, in order to understand that this does not make me a lame fembot Stepford Wife, you need to know that I thrive upon doing things well. When I was a student, I practically salivated for the sight of a gold star atop my grade four three-paragraph essays. I was in the gifted students club, easily earned top grades, and if something was difficult I would move on to something else at which I was naturally adept.
When I was a reporter, I would agonize over word choices and develop an eye twitch when reading works of poor grammatical structure. When a reader submitted positive feedback on an article, the praise was enough to instill in me a glow as if I had just earned the Nobel prize for Literature.
Motherhood is a thankless job. I know. It was only recently I finally called my mom on a day other than Mother's Day to thank her for cleaning up my puke and feeding me salted crackers when I was sick. I did this because I desperately wanted some gratification from Abby, who did not thank me for wiping up her puke and feeding her crackers.
While I gush and cry over cards she gives me on birthdays and other holidays (that yes, Rich picked out, but still, the sentiment...), I do not expect to be thanked or given a gold star or even receive a participation ribbon at some year-end motherhood banquet.
And so I gratify myself. To do this, I delve head-first into assaulting domestic chores, baking and home decor with a psychotic, eager effort. Take right now: I just got up from writing this to remove some butternut squash from the oven which I will now puree and transform into delicious brownies. Like, seriously? Who does this for fun? ME: a highly ambitious writer and reporter turned northern housewife.
I applaud myself for running a house and raising a baby. Heck, no one else does. Why not? I reward myself with a system of Starbucks outings, yoga classes, reading and eating a whole pan of butternut squash brownies.
That is not to say I turn suicidal if dinner doesn't turn out. Yeah, once or twice I've cried over burnt beef with a red wine gravy. I do. But right now, I am on a ridiculously Type-A, outta-my-way domestica streak. You want to make something of it? You want to mess with the Queen Bee bathtub ring scrubber at this house? No, didn't think so.

*I know the semantics of those words are rooted in anti-feminist domestic imprisonment, and I use them in this post-modern context to celebrate that I am doing exactly what I have chosen to do: be a stay-at-home mama. I could be working, climbing, earning money, aspiring and getting somewhere professionally, because I am not limited. But I don't want to, right now.

1 comment:

  1. I totally know where you are coming from, Sarah. Raising children, running a household and cooking for a family can be deeply satisfying -- especially when done well.

    And it provides a refreshing change of pace when you spend periods of your life on a professional treadmill.

    I like how you reward yourself -- it's so healthy -- because as you say, not many people will do it for you.

    And can I say: butternut squash brownies? Martha Stewart, look out!


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