January 18, 2012

Busy-Work

keeping busy

We don't own a microwave and I'm not sure why. Our old apartment had one built into the kitchen and when we moved into our current home a few years ago, it was microwave free. Big Smith announced that we didn't need one and he was opposed to getting one out of principle. He explained that microwaves were a testimony to our laziness and made food taste bad anyway. I was surprised since I'm typically the cheerleader for principles in this little family. When he's pressed, I think he does have them but he's not one for volunteering to engage in a controversial conversation, or worse yet a debate. It seemed like such a strange place to decide to take a stand, but I'm a fan of getting back to basics so I happily ran the dishwasher (I mean it's not the dark ages!) and preheated the oven to warm up leftovers.


We were told many times that we would want to surrender to the convenience of microwaves when we had a baby but honestly once you're used to not having the option it doesn't even cross your mind, so we still go without. There's been a few playdates where baby-mama friends arrive with dishes to be warmed and are confused, and then they usually make a joke about cloth diapers and cooking from scratch- the idea being that I'm generally crazy for making more work where it isn't needed.

I think they're probably right. I wonder if all of the things I do with the goal of leading a more basic life are actually nothing more than creating busy-work for myself. Obviously I enjoy the labor or I wouldn't do it, but a big chunk of my days are spent toiling over things that are easily and inexpensively purchased. I'm often tired and pressed for spare time and I'm not certain if the satisfaction of doing it myself is worth the investment. 


Last spring I planted peas knowing that they would be ready to pick right about the same time Little Smith would be ready to learn to eat them. I picked as many as I could in the early summer and brought a giant bag home to painstakingly shell, steam, and puree through a foodmill. I had visions of a freezer full of vibrant green pea puree but all this work only amounted to a few cupfuls. I buy my peas from the freezer section now... I'm sure if Little Smith could talk he'd let me know that he totally tastes the difference.

There was a time when I was embarrassed by my mother's lopsided home-made birthday cakes and crocheted vests. I envied the girls who shopped at Express and had fancy ice-cream cakes with ruffled icing. Now I'm studying pictures to replicate that lumpy cake and crocheting with the same needle (with less impressive results). Maybe it's a right of passage, but looking back I'm moved by the effort regardless of the result and I want that for my family.


I know a lot of my choices aren't that logical and that there is a ton of hypocrisy on where I draw the lines around this home-spun life I'm working to craft. Still there is a satisfaction in basic busy-work that makes me smile to my fingertips. Except for dirty dishes, those only speak to me in frowns.


8 comments:

  1. I LOVE this post so much! As a cloth diapering, crocheting, baby food maker myself I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately. Obviously we do all the things that we do because we love our family and want the best for them, but maybe sometimes the best for them is a well-rested mama. It's okay every once in awhile to use a disposable or buy some canned baby food if it means that you have more time and energy to give your family, you know? Clearly you are a mindful mama and will find that balance!

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    1. Thanks Tara! I think you're right that balance is the key.

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  2. "There was a time when I was embarrassed by my mother's lopsided home-made birthday cakes and crocheted vests. I envied the girls who shopped at Express and had fancy ice-cream cakes with ruffled icing. Now I'm studying pictures to replicate that lumpy cake and crocheting with the same needle (with less impressive results). Maybe it's a right of passage, but looking back I'm moved by the effort regardless of the result and I want that for my family."

    This is such a wonderful, heartfelt post! I also must confess, I'm glad I wasn't the only little girl with homemade birthday cakes and outfits made by my mom. The older I get, the less I understand how she did it, and the more I appreciate the effort, in retrospect.

    Your son is adorable!

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    1. Thank you so much Genevieve, I'm glad I wasn't the only one too!

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  3. Wow. I love the first picture... amazing. Somehow catches a toddler's true essence.

    I can relate. Though we do have a microwave, we have no TV, and have not had one for 7 years. Although I am happy without one, it would certainly come in handy some days with three littles under the age of 5. But I think I will look back and be proud... I hope!

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    1. I am beyond impressed that you can make a stand on anything with three little guys... my hands are so full already with one! We do think ditching our TV, I'm sure you'll be proud you did it!

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  4. I love the Guinness sign!

    This post is a lot like one that I wrote about paper towels. People come over and are so confused that I choose not to use them. I hate microwaves! The main reason is that they are a pain to clean haha. I have a cleaning aversion.

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  5. I ADORE that first picture! Life with a little one, summed up perfectly.

    You say your choices "aren't that logical" but I think when it comes to homemaking (and building a family) everyone's "logic" is a little different. It seems perfectly logical to ME to use cloth (diapers, wipers, toilet "paper," menstrual pads, napkins, dishtowels...) rather than risk running out of paper products or deal with the expense of replacing them all the time. But to someone else? That's just a lot of extra laundry. And I never bought or made baby food because, well, *I* wouldn't eat that stuff. (I just mashed up whatever Rob and I were eating, and Westley ate that.) How's that for logic?

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