Blog: SHE SELLS SANCTUARY
November 12th, 2007
and play with my train track, he whinges.
Sorry, sweetheart, but Im folding this washing right now, I say, not
feeling the slightest bit guilty because its the end of a long day of playing with
him and hes certainly had no shortage of my attention. It's book time in a
minute, as soon as I fold this pile of clothes on the couch, okay?
But I want you to play with my train track now!
I stop folding clothes.
Honestly, I mutter to myself. Its like living with a three year
old sometimes." I find this thought usually has the desired effect of putting things
into perspective. Sometimes you forget they are only three, compared to your thirty-six.
I decide to try a different approach.
Okay, heres an idea...I'll play trains if you fold these clothes.
Uncertain look. Hes not sure its such a good deal after all.
Well, someones got to do the housework, eh? I say. What, you think
we have elves or something? That do all the cleaning when were asleep, hmmn?
I fancy I sense something dimly dawning on him. I know he routinely observes me doing the
housework, but I suspect it has not occurred to him yet that I might not be doing it all
just for fun.
Dont worry, soon enough youll be helping me with the housework, I
assure him. In the meantime, maybe we should think about getting an elf. A couple of
Of course, he does help me with some things already--sweeping and raking and mopping, or
sorting clothes into piles, or taking the boxes and bottles to the recycling bin. But
while all this is a wonderful form of educational play, Im sure, helping mum
with the housework often means mum ends up redoing it after them anyway.
He goes back to playing with his trains and I go back to folding clothes.
I think I have made my point.
After a moment, very sweetly he comes to give me a hug, and he astounds me by saying,
Mum, Im in love with you.
In love with me! It fairly made me melt. Where has he heard this phrase? I only say
I love you to him. Maybe the kids at his preschool are already saying it to
each other? I remember getting married to a boy once in kindy, so I guess kids
are well aware of the idea of romantic love by that age. But he's so young.
Im in love with you too, I say dreamily. I realise I am, actually, in
love with him too.
Then he runs his hand run up my spiky unshaven calf and says, Mum, youre an
But I've digressed.
When my boy and I are alone at home, he wants me to play with him every waking second. He
resents it when I attempt to do housework around him. Paradoxically, on particularly
trying days, I sometimes almost take refuge in housework. If your child is tired and
whingy and youre straying close to meltdown territory, theres
nothing like the din of a vacuum cleaner to drown everything out for five minutes. That
may sound terrible but Im sure other parents will know what I mean.
In your attempts to be an adequate parent, you try as much as possible to engage directly
with your child. Most of your days together are spent out and about, at playgrounds or
playdates, and housework is often left til after bedtime. But unless you have a maid, or
elves, it is inevitable that youll have to spend at least some of the time that you
are caring for and nurturing your child, rushing around muttering to yourself
under your breath about how youre nothing but a slave.
All of which I guess is sort of a tangent to my post
at Surfdom. As much as looking after small children is a wonderful and important
job, it seems to me that we shouldnt gloss over the sheer amount of mundane domestic
drudgery involved. And staying at home with your child isnt all just
making robots out of recycled lids and toilet roll tubes, making glitter playdough or
building train tracks together. As much as you are nurturer-educator, you are also
Of course, when they say theyre in love with you, all your frustrations
disappear, and youre a happy slave once more.