The Mother's for Women's Lib carnival linked me to this post, which contains this paragraph:
Not only are traditionally female fan objects and fan engagements devalued, the very gender identity of the fan thus becomes problematic: reading done in private by women is a selfish and time-wasting activity, and fannish investment is a selfish and time-wasting squandering of emotion. Mothers, however, are meant to focus their activities and emotions on one target only: their family. Capitalist culture has long been undergirded by domestic ideology: the man’s primary domain is the capitalist world, where selfishness and aggressivity are rewarded, while the woman’s primary domain is home, where she creates social awareness by selflessly volunteering and providing moral guidance for the next generation. I’m taking this directly from my domestic/bourgeois ideology lecture for the British nineteenth century, but frankly, living in a white middle class suburban area with two kids in private school, the ideological structure of my community doesn’t really look all that different.
And that's an interesting thing.
I have gotten, since Little Foot was born, profoundly jealous of what time I get to spend on myself. And it's hard, on a lot of levels - I mean, starting with the comment "being selfish is one of the worst crimes a woman can commit without breaking the law" but also all the ways in which my time is circumscribed - whether because I actively need to be minding Little Foot or, like now: she finally went down for a nap, after a fussy day in which she largely refused to sleep. I should go, for example, grab the towels out of the bathroom and wash them, but if I put her down she might wake up. (She has been very, very easy to wake of late, alas.) Which necessity - the dirty towels or the unrested infant - rules?
I have always struggled with taking time for myself, seesawing between complete self-sacrifice and a tendency towards indulgence without ever quite knowing where the range of legitimate behaviour fell. It is not something - growing up in a context where any time spent on myself was proof of my selfishness - that I learned well. Nor a culture designed to help rational thought on the subject, even if I were not kept from learning it at home.
And there are the half-spoken assumptions: that of course the lion and I would stop playing games when we have children, for example. That our recreations will become proper, whatever that means. I already watch baseball games, maybe we'd have to take up more television sports? Or - to really buy into the mythologies of adulthood, that his world would be consumed with Job and my world would be consumed with Baby and neither of us would ever have scope for our own pursuits again, except maybe a movie every year or two when the stars align and someone else could mind the babe.
I find myself strung up by the self-doubt, neither counting off tasks - fold the laundry, clean the bedroom, catalogue the crate of books, whatever else - nor taking time to relax, poised between the two because I have no space to give myself for either.
I think maybe this is why I'm tired.