When people are young their parents sign them up for activities after school and in the evenings under the guise of keeping them busy, so they will stay out of trouble.
Idle hands, you know. They do the work of the devil. Or so they say.
I am a stay-at-home mom, and my hands are often idle.
After all, the dishwasher only needs to be emptied one time when the dishes are clean. The clothes – once they are folded and put away, they are done. Cleaning can always wait. I can fill my days with tasks, but I don’t have to. I am my own boss. There is no time card to punch, no performance evaluation to wring my hands through.
Over the years, I have gone from busy bee to bonbon eater. My jobs aren’t time-sensitive anymore. No one will starve if I don’t make them dinner. I don’t really toil at keeping people alive, despite my assertions. I choose to do some things and leave the rest. I put off projects because there is always tomorrow. I am the Scarlett O’Hara of this poor girl’s Tara. I hear friends and family members lament that they don’t have time to do it all, and I think, well, I do. Meh. I want to tell them: it all can wait.
Sometimes this makes me think I have too much time on my hands.
I can enter any room in our house and find ten things that need to be fixed or updated or changed or organized. I won’t do any of them. I rarely start projects I won’t finish, so I don’t. Somewhere out there, someone is thinking, “Lazy.”
But I don’t feel lazy. I don’t watch TV, don’t really eat bonbons. I stay home because I want to be present, take care of the details of my family’s life. Being here is my priority, my number one deliverable.
Are my idle hands hurting anything?
I pursue paid work sporadically; I don’t do enough to call it a career. Writing is a hobby that I treat as a job, but one that doesn’t mind if I take a week off to catch up on housework or errands. It’s really only for me. It doesn’t benefit anyone else.
When I worked for pay my house was always clean. When the kids were small I worked though their nap times and even took exercise classes in the evenings. I did it all, and I got paid. I also burned out. Doing it all is not a sustainable lifestyle.
It’s a hard thing, not to be paid for working. I allow myself to idle because I can be resentful at not being recognized for my efforts in the way that our society displays worth. Nobody really cares about clean windows and floors. It’s hard to be motivated when your work is not valued.
This can be true in any job. Although we may complain about them, we all choose the tasks we do. We might feel stuck within these tasks, whether they take place in an office or in prison or at home. We are all given the same amount of time, and we might decide to be idle once in a while, wherever we are.
Being stuck at home, with time on my side, really isn’t so bad. Sure, it can be boring and tedious, but what job isn’t at times? I’m not going to get into trouble if I decide to binge-watch Parenthood instead of scrub toilets and fill out permission slips. It doesn’t mean that I have too much time on my hands.
Or does it?
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