Covid 19 cohabitation has me reading The Feminine Mystique again.
The original plan
The most important thing in the world to me is connecting with my loved ones. I love my children’s company. It is enjoyable hearing their thoughts on the world as they mature. I have always thought it my job to teach them how to be mature, healthy, independent adults who have grand adventures and grand relationships of their own. They leave the nest and start moving toward those grand adventures after high school.
Currently, all of my children (ages 20, 18 and 16) and my stepson aged 19 are home. The college bound kids are champing at the bit to get into their college life. Covid 19 denied them access to that life. My daughter’s high school classes are mostly online. My stepson works a construction job during the day. He and I are the only ones who have the opportunity to leave the house for work. My school paraprofessional position starts on Monday (yay).
The real issue
The Covid quarantine has been a positive in that we have had uninterrupted time as a family. Not being able to leave the nest and participate in meaningful work outside of the home makes me crabby.
I’m ready to do more challenging work than buying the correct toothpaste and making sure we are stocked up on gluten free bread.
I’ve tried everything women are supposed to do — hobbies, gardening, pickling, canning, being very social with my neighbors, joining committees, running PTA teas. I can do it all, and I like it, but it doesn’t leave you anything to think about — any feeling of who you are. — A mother of four who left college at 19 to get married, The Feminine Mystique
We’re still doing this?
I heard on NPR the other day that women are primarily the ones changing their work schedules and workloads to accommodate children at home during the pandemic. Not surprising, but also why? Even before Covid, most women still chose jobs with flexibility so they can take care of children or household tasks if needed.
Housewives of the 1950s and I have a kinship. I have a deep sense of unfulfillment if I do not get to do work beyond caregiving and household management. Friedan’s phrase, “Is this all?” echoes in my head as I run to Target for the third time this week.
The light that saves us
I need to see myself through other’s eyes. As I mentioned in, For Women, Busy Means More Satisfaction, the more diverse and plentiful our interactions with others, the more parts of ourselves surface.
I have had moments of career satisfaction this summer. Our trip to Utah where I was interviewed at a television station about raising introverted children, was a definite highlight. I felt like a contributor to society. Coaching sessions always make me feel fulfilled. The connection and opportunity to serve someone while challenging my brain, is oxygen for my soul.
Overall, I am amazed at how well everyone has gotten along while at home. We have a diverse set of personalities under our roof. The minutiae of everyday food and family management is the big drag. Witnessing the family weave together is the big bonus.
How are you doing at home with family? What do you miss? How has your workload changed?