Tuesday, November 13, 2007

...like a hamster on a wheel...

Making beds...washing dishes...doing laundry...taking kids to school...to swim...to soccer...these are just a few of the repetitive tasks that I do almost everyday. They never end. Even if I make beds and do laundry everyday...I'm never really finished, because more clothes get dirtied everyday and those beds get unmade again every night. Many days it is mind numbing. I feel like a hamster on a wheel...feverishly running as fast as I can...around and around and around...not sure where I'm going...never getting any further than I was before...just keeping up.

Sometimes I fantasize about how my life would have been different had I chosen to stay in college...if I had chosen an exciting career path...stayed single...possibly even traveled the world. I try to imagine how different things would be had I chosen this cosmopolitan lifestyle. I imagine a very clean, modern, expensive apartment...with a view...I don't know what the view would include or where it would be...but there would be a view. I envision shiny stainless steel appliances...a fridge with no calendars or hand drawn pictures. I imagine peace and quiet...time to read books uninterrupted...and restful nights of sleep...no nightmares or monsters in closets. I imagine myself in expensive high heels and designer "power suits". I imagine gourmet dinners and lots of parties...glamorous parties full of important people.

Before I know it, my fantasies are interrupted by the cries or demands or giggles of my three children...and I reenter MY world...the one where traveling includes kids that whine and can't carry their own carry on baggage, a beach right here in the US, and days spent doing nothing but lying in the sun reading novels, building sand castles, and breaking up arguments...not hiking the Inca trail or sailing the Mediterranean on a yacht...the one with a comfortable home rather than a modern apartment...the one with a view of the elementary school from my back porch rather than a cityscape...the one that includes jeans and the occasional high heel bought on sale at Macy's rather than Manolo Blahniks and Armani suits...the one that includes McDonald's Happy Meals and Subway sandwiches, not gourmet meals...the one that includes parties, but not glamorous parties...these parties include jump houses, balloons, birthday cakes and squealing children that have had way too much sugar...no fancy hors d'oeuvres or important people. I wonder what I've missed all these years that I've been living as a suburban housewife...and then I realize that I'm looking at my life all wrong.

I have missed out on the glamour and excitement. I have missed out on exotic travel and gourmet meals because of the choices I made...the choice to leave college...to get a minimum wage job and help support my husband while he finished his degrees and accomplished his goals...the choice to have children...to quit my job and stay at home...the choice to spend my days in parks on picnics...in museums...at water parks...and on field trips, not in a board room...or an expensive restaurant for a lunch date...or the first class cabin of an airplane on my way to a business trip. I try to turn my thinking in another direction...I wonder what would I have missed had I chosen the other life I sometimes dream about???

I would have missed out on the miracle of hearing the heartbeat of the life growing inside me for the first time...the surprise of the first kick inside my belly...and the overwhelming feeling of love that washed over me the first time I held my newborn baby in my arms and counted their ten perfect fingers and toes. I would have missed the sweet smell of a baby's neck after a bath...the ability to stop a cry with one kiss...and the feeling of two small hands wrapping around my neck to hug me tight. I would've missed out on the excitement of the Easter Bunny...the thrill of the Tooth Fairy...and the magic of Santa and his elves. I would have missed out the on pictures drawn with crayons that say "I love you, Mom! XOXO" that hang on my white fridge...the one I keep hoping will grow up to be stainless steel someday. I would have missed out on the comfort of my leather couch...the one that I chose, because it was distressed and I knew it wouldn't show the scratches and spills that come with having kids. I would have missed some of the most precious moments of my life...ones worth far more than a pair of Manolos or an apartment with a view.

So, while I still daydream about what could have been...and while I still hate the mundane, repetitive tasks I perform everyday...I am grateful for the choices I have made. What I have is priceless...more valuable than gold. So, I'll continue to get up everyday and wash and clean and do the same tasks that I did the day before, but now maybe I'll stop and be grateful rather than resentful. I'll continue to make the same beds and I'll calm familiar cries. I'll cook out of obligation...not desire...and I'll drive a minivan (the one thing I adamantly said I would NEVER do) to swim and soccer practice...even when I don't want to. I'll be a hamster on a wheel, because the laughter and the hugs and the kisses that come with the job, make it all worthwhile.

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