This post comes courtesy of Wee friend and writer Dorothy Robinson, who is also mom to 4-year-old Sam and 8-month-old Kit. You should be sure to check out her (hilarious) blog, The Tankini Files.
There is something my husband and I do every night that is so shameful, so decadent, so illicit, I honestly can’t believe I’m telling you what it is.
We watch TV. For at least an hour. Every single night.
And we watch it even though we have other things to do around the house. Even worse? I watch it without even multi-tasking. I just sit there and zone out. Actually, I do multi-task. I look at my phone while I’m watching TV. It’s awful.
Why did I even bother graduating from a perfectly good Tier 2 university if all I’m going to do with my life after I come home from work is sit on the couch and look at my phone when there is a junk drawer I could be organizing? Or laundry I could be sorting? Or squats to be squatting? A thank you note I could be writing (if there is one constant in my life, it’s that there is always a thank you note I could be writing). Eyebrows to be plucking. Bookshelves to be sorting. Clothes I could be folding. Languages I could be learning. Chairs I could be re-upholstering. Hilarious blogs I could be blogging.
Don’t even bring up the fact I haven’t sorted a single photograph in about a decade.
“Maybe we should go upstairs and sand the floors,” I said to my husband in a slight panic last night. (This was in between looking at my phone and watching VEEP. I should note that we don’t have a sander or stain, and also that there happened to be a sleeping toddler in the next room.)
“Why in the world would we do that?” he answered, used to my piques of anxiety, and not even looking up from his PS Vita. (Oh God, my husband plays video games while watching television. Someone, please: Put us out of our uninspired misery.)
We’re constantly at home at night because we’re militant about our son Sam going to sleep at the same time every night. Sam getting a full night of rest and having an undeviated routine makes him a happy-go-lucky, friendly, and charming kid. Sam not getting a full night of rest makes him a psychopathic monster who makes me want to walk into the ocean, never to return. To keep his Jekyll around and not his Hyde, we make trade-offs, the main one being we’re kinda under house arrest once our son’s bedtime hits. Of course, this house arrest comes with cable and books and Snickers Ice Cream Bars in the freezer, but it also comes with the inability to leave our house after 8 p.m. unless I make arrangements far, far in advance and have some cold, hard cash lying around so I can pay someone else to sit on my couch and watch Netflix while my kid sleeps.
So, I reason, if I’m going to be stuck at home, I should at least make this next decade of house arrest productive one. Right? But I have this terrible personality trait where I’m just Type A enough to realize I’m not nearly Type A enough to do everything that requires being a true Type A. So, yes, I care about making my house appear Instagram-friendly, but I don’t care so much as to not just sit on the couch instead with my nice husband. And my nice husband … well, let’s just say he is totally okay with not learning how to re-tile our bathroom in lieu of some good couch / video game time with me. It makes him happy.
I think one of the hardest thing about parenting is the ability to just let go — not to let go of preconceived notions about my child or his future, but to let go of preconceived notions about me and what I’m capable of. I used to be on 24/7 — working, exercising, and socializing. I never took a break. And now I do the bare minimum. One of my girlfriends put it this way: “I’m not trying to ‘Lean In,’ I’m just figuring out how to hold on.”
In that spirit, I’ve decided that when I’m camping out on the couch at the end of a long day, I’m not settling for mediocrity; I’m settling for the greater good (which, for my family, means not creating extra work where there really is none). Maybe now is the point in my life where I can finally relax and not feel guilty. It’s not shameful to actually be lazy for an hour or two — it’s okay. Dare I say: Maybe even healthy?
After all, Voltaire, whom I’m very fond of quoting in most of the Mommy-blogs I write, once said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
And one of these days, when I get around to learning how to embroider, I am going to stitch this line right onto a couch pillow.
About our author: When Dorothy Robinson was young and single, she lived in Philadelphia where she was a writer and editor. She is now in Maplewood, NJ, married, and works in global communications. It happens. You can follow her on Twitter @dorothyrobinson, or visit her blog, The Tankini Files.