Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Short Cuts

I am sure moms all over the world take short cuts here and there. (Well, the exception may be stay-at-home Japanese moms, but that is another story.)

I sometimes feel guilty about the short cuts I take. I mean, I have every reason to feel guilty about them, but I also feel justified. Is it possible to feel guilty and justified at the same time?

ShortCut #1
I am late for work almost every day. Does it really matter though? I am only missing a morning (all staff) meeting that lasts about 5 minutes each day from 8:20 to 8:25. Yes, I do miss out on communicating with the teachers at large, and perhaps some people don't realize I still work there because they never see me, and yes, usually when I drive into the parking lot, the VP is standing there and we bow a good morning to each other.

Justification for #1
My work day officially starts at 8:30 and ends at 4:05. This is according to my contract, but the VPs have requested us to come at 8:20 and to leave at 4:50 instead. I honored their "request" all these years because I thought I was getting something out of it (like, extra vacation days during the summer), but that changed. And, now we get nothing in return for doing this. Also, I often stay well past 4:50 throughout the school year. Finally, things change when you have a little toddler to supervise while you are trying get dressed, put on make up, cook breakfast, eat breakfast, gather all the bags at the door, get her dressed and fed all at the same time while your husband sleeps until the last possible minute. And, then when you are about ready to leave, he crawls out of bed and says, "Hey, wait for me! I need a ride to the station!"

ShortCut #2
I don't always include vegetables in our supper menu. I do, if the main dish is a casserole or a homemade pizza of some kind, but I don't bother otherwise.

Justification for #2
Wow! I can't believe I finally admitted this. Ailin (I can only assume from what they tell me) is eating plenty of healthy meals which include veggies at daycare. She is lucky to be getting such great food. And, on weekends, my husband and mother-in-law are obsessive about including veggies in her meals, so I feel like she is getting plenty. In the early fall of 2008, I was using a cookbook that illustrates how to hide pureed veggies in every kid meal. Every Sunday night, I prepared all sorts of pureed veggies and froze them in small ziploc bags so that I could use them in breakfasts and dinners all week long. That lasted about 1 month. Why would I want to spend my Sunday nights doing that while my husband sits on the couch watching TV and eating junk food? I want to do that thing they call "relaxing" too! And, after coming home from a long day of work when I have exactly 2 hours to make and eat dinner, spend quality time with Ailin, clean up kitchen, give her a bath and go through the whole bedtime routine, veggies are just not a priority! Tonight, just to experiment, I included boiled spinach and carrots on her plate and I tried to strike a deal with her. She could have dessert if she ate one bite of her veggies. (I know, boiled spinach and carrots are not exactly tantalizing). She gave it an honest try...3 times, but then spit them out. Time to move on.

ShortCut #3
I don't always walk the dog. Of course, Max needs a walk at least once a day, if not twice. I would love love love to take him out every morning and evening. Up until last September, that is exactly what we did.

Justification for #3
This I feel truly guilty about. He has his own room (2 1/2 tatami mat size) with a window, a dog toilet, his drinking water spout and a bed. He stays in there during the day while I am at work. He has learned to use the toilet when needed, so yes, he does still poo and pee freely, but everyone (himself included) would prefer that he goes outside. Plus, he enjoys the fresh air and exercise, to be sure. Last fall was so hectic at work that I often couldn't leave work until 6pm. This really threw me off. Not only that, but the slightest change in schedule tends to throw a working mom off...I don't have time to dilly dally. If it is raining, windy (we live near the Tokyo Bay, so it gets really windy here!), or if I need to stop off and buy a few groceries, etc., I no longer have time to take Max out at night. The morning routine got out of hand as well. My husband started sleeping in til the last possible minute. Up until summer, he was at least making an effort to get up earlier and help out with Ailin - either he made breakfast or got her dressed or at least would stay with her while I took the dog out. I had all I could do to get through the morning and bedtime routines.

ShortCut #4
Cleaning doesn't always happen. I figured out what was the least amount of tidying I could possibly do during the week so that my husband wouldn't complain. I found that washing dishes, keeping up with laundry and vacuuming the floor at the very least was enough to stave off complaints during the week. (Of course, by the weekend, he was/is always talking about how dirty the house is...).

Justification for #4
I found that last fall, I couldn't even keep up with these basic things, and sometimes my husband had to wash dishes or hang laundry out when he came home at night. I am trying to do better now that work as not as hectic, but I realized there are certain things Yusuke could do to really help me out. Since he no longer helps with cleaning on the weekends, and during the week, he is rarely home to help out, I realized that there was a bare minimum for him too. If he could do these very basic things, I wouldn't spend so much time piddling around trying to do them. Maybe then, a load of unfolded laundry wouldn't sit on the couch for days getting full of dog hair (Max finds these locations very comfortable for his evening naps.) and the floor might get vacuumed once or twice during the week.

Here is my list for Yusuke:
Clean the bathtub while he is showering.
Do at least one thing for Ailin in the mornings...this could even be sitting with her while she eats breakfast or getting her dressed.
Put clean dishes away.
Make sure car is filled with gas before the start of each week.
If he cooks his own dinner during the week, at least wash those dishes up.
Put newspapers in the recycling bin when done reading them.

I have not shown him this list, but I am sure when I do, I will hear about all the stuff he does do to help me and how he is probably the only Japanese guy who has to do anything around the house.


L. said...

My Japanese guy has to do stuff, too!

After two decades, I have finally accepted his severe "kitchen aversion," and given up all hope in that area.

But I use his weakness against him, by allowing him to "choose" to do other things. I say:

"Oh....there's so much to do.....could you please clean the kitchen? [Here he shudders, visible.] Or would you rather fold and put away the laundry?"

Laundry gets folded and put away!

Mande's J-Life said...

Hi L.! Glad to see you here!

I don't exactly let Yusuke choose, but I am well aware of what he is willing to do, and I try to avoid those things so that he has plenty of opportunities to do them. Like, I know he doesn't mind cleaning the toilet or vacuuming, so I leave that stuff for him to do, but I don't say, "please clean the toilet!" I know he will eventually do it. On the other hand, he refuses to dust and wash the floors, so these are automatically my jobs. I don't mind that.

Oh, and I finally thought of the persect comeback for the last paragraph of this entry! "I think I am the only American wife who is expected to do so much around the house, especially since I am working full time. Most American wives would either get help from their husbands or they would hire help!"

Another story for another time. I want to tackle the topic of hiring help sometime.

illahee said...

i was so dead tired when pregnant (and often nauseated by the kitchen) that yoshi started doing dishes. he does them most evenings. the one thing he 'hates' is laundry and i am more than glad to do it (i need to keep my clothes looking nice, i can't just go out and get more!!) but yoshi is capable of doing things.

whenever i get attitude or complaints from him, i just tell him if he sees something that needs to be done, he's an adult and he can do it! that usually works. :D

poor max. i'm sorry i don't have advice about that, and i hope you have more chances to take him out. maybe in spring?