Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tap Dancing and Domesticity

Some women don’t have to think about making the bed, tidying up, or lighting a smelly candle to to enhance the mood in their home.  They don’t have to say aloud to themselves, “Wipe down the counter after you prep dinner“ or “Hang up your dress after taking it off.” 

I do have to say these things to myself.  A lot.  And the acts of tidying, organizing, folding and sweeping are truly a revolutionary ways of engaging daily life.  Until now it's fair to say that I have avoided domesticity.

Before leaving the states my life was lived outside of my house where I was always on the go as an entreprenuer-yoga-teacher-type woman.  I also lived a lot of my life within the creative space of my heart and head, dreaming up ‘what’s next’, writing curriculum, expressing myself on the page and in the classroom.  I didn’t give our house much thought.  Honestly, our house was more of a “crash ‘n launch pad” than a “home sweet home”.

With a baby on the way I’ve had to train myself into new habits.  Habits that involve domestic organization, putting things back where I found them, cleaning up after myself in real time.  It’s like everything they taught me in kindergarten only I’m 33 and I have to make my own snacks.

Perhaps I avoided domesticity in the past because it reminded me of that happy-but-miserable 1950’s housewife.  Or perhaps it was the driving focus on career that steered my attention away from the home space.  Or maybe, regardless of any images of ‘domesticated women’ and their silent suffering or my focus on 'career', it’s just that my mind has never been that interested in external order, cleanliness, organization or smelly candles.

My mind prefers to play with philosophy, psychology, and the subjects of emotional intelligence, behavioral sciences and self-awareness.  None of those subjects you can touch or see or smell.  My mind has always played more in the abstract world of feelings and with non-material plains of existence.

Until now...until a very not-abstract baby started growing in my very not-abstract uterus. 

Suddenly all the things I can touch and feel and smell are standing front and center while philosophic reflections and entrepreneurial aims take back seat. 

After sharing these thoughts with my mother she told me about a conversation she had had with her mother-in-law, Mimi, just after marrying my father.  My mother was feeling uncertain about all things “wife” and “home” and “mother-to-be”.

In response to my mother's concerns Mimi replied, “Oh, Honey, don’t you worry.  All I knew how to do when I got married and had kids was tap dance.”