Note – This is a rambling post which makes no sense whatsoever on second reading even for me. So yes, if you intend to read it, please do so at your own risk. It is more a #NoteToSelf post than anything else. Thanks.
Over the last few days, I was a
little lot down with apprehension and anxiousness. There were just too many things that were happening around me (of which some were in my control and others, not!) I felt like my conversations were forced. A couple of times, I ended up messing up words (which I totally didn’t intend to) and ended up beating up myself for that. I got into a few (unsolicited unnecessary) arguments. I knew something was bothering me. But the funny thing was I didn’t want to pin-point to what exactly it was. It was like I was living on the edge trying to jump off the cliff anytime. But, in the heart of hearts, I always knew why I was frustrated.
That was when a friend got talking about Sofie Kinsella. She asked me to read her ‘The Undomestic Goddess’. I was anyway on a chicklit reading spree. Chicklits are really easy on your time, doesn’t require much of your concentration and they kind of make you feel relaxed. I thought why not give the book a try. I bundled up ‘The Hobbit’ which I’d started; the book was demanding way more attention than my kids. I downloaded The Undomestic Goddess on my Kindle and started reading. As they say, there are some books you find. And then, there are some books that find you. This book definitely belonged to the latter category and thank God for that.
The Undomestic Goddess is about twenty nine year old Samantha Sweeting who is a lawyer by profession. She works with one of the top law firms and has no time to breathe. She doesn’t know anything about household chores and lives mostly to work. She is expecting to become a partner anytime soon when she (and the firm) realizes that she’d made a mistake which cost her client a loss of 50mn pounds. Not knowing what she’s doing, she gets on a train and ends up at a house who were expecting to interview a housekeeper. She takes up the offer as a temporary escape but slowly learns to cope. Also, (as it goes predictably) she falls in love. When she thinks of embracing her new life, she realizes she’s not responsible for the law-firm loss in anyway. Will she get back and claim her job back? Or, will she continue to live the stress-free life of a housekeeper? That forms the rest of the story.
Okay… I have to agree that the book was over-the-top. Never realistic. Such an intelligent lawyer can never end up as a housekeeper in reality. The language was okay, sheer chicklit stuff. Yet, there was something that pulled me into the book.
Here’s the thing.. I saw Samantha in me. I could relate to her busy lawyer life constantly surrounded by contracts and always checking emails on her blackberry. Till a couple of years ago, I was Samantha. I would wake up in the middle of the night wondering if there were any escalations on my report and head to the computer to check my emails. The last part of every weekend would be spent in preparing myself for the next workday. I would calculate time in seconds; not even minutes like her. ‘Fifty seconds for microwaving the oats, another sixty for eating it and then, we head straight to work’. ‘Five minutes for both the kids in the bathroom, two minutes for toweling them dry and two minutes for getting them ready’. This is exactly how my mind worked. Then.
Let me also confess that I am still not completely out of this time-tracking syndrome. Even now, my early mornings see me frantically counting every second lest we miss the bus. The husband has nicknamed me as ‘grumpy girl’. There are mornings when I’ve gotten advice from the kids. ‘Amma.. Why are you panicking? Just relax!’ I know I need them more than anyone else. But, the point is I like sticking to schedule and even a slight disruption can cause me to panic. I’d assume it is a hereditary thing. My mum retired a couple of years ago and still she can’t sit in a place quietly for sometime. She needs to be on her feet doing something. She panics if something doesn’t happen within the prescribed time. Although her schedule has slowed down, she’s finding it hard herself to slow down.
These days I try hard at slowing down. I stop looking at the watch when it is not required. (See the caveat. Auditor, sigh!) It only helps that the husband and the children are in no hurry, whatsoever. ‘So what if we miss the bus, we can catch it at the next stop?’, is their reasoning. Some days, I think why not? Some days, I get frustrated and angry. I have still not gotten into the zen mode like them. Yet, with whatever little progress I’ve made, I can say this slowing down has only helped me.
But, time and again, I wonder if I am doing the right thing by staying at home and not going after my (once high profile) career. That’s exactly what’s been pricking me the last few days too. My mum is still unhappy that my career which was such a dream-come-true is over (albeit temporarily. See, I still keep my options open!) too soon. She thinks I am wasting all my talents sitting at home. It is during these times that I go back to the conversation I had with my mother some time ago. ‘What’s the point in going to work, earning money and utilizing my talents when I can’t have the time to enjoy them; let alone enjoy them, not even have the time to spend time with the kids. Life is not to live for the clock; it is for us’, I’d told her then. I think I was a lot more articulate then.
Now that I am at home, I feel a pang every time I open my bank statement. There are only debits; credits are nil. NIL. All said and done, the month-end salary sms did give a kick to me. But, if that one sms was going to suck out all the happiness in my life, there’s no point in it. Isn’t it? Thankfully, I have a supportive spouse and even more thankfully, the spouse earns enough to run a family of four. Yes, it would be great to have some extra funds in the bank but will this urge to have enough more ever stop? It’s a no from me.
Like how Samantha felt in the latter part of the book, I can feel a rejuvenated me most of the time when I am at home. Yes, there are times I am frustrated (like how I am now!) but that is just a passing phase. Every time, I walk to pick the kids, I try spotting birds and butterflies. I look at the sky to see the arrangement of the clouds. I touch and feel the flowers in passing. I listen to music like it is the first time I am listening to it. I smile without any reason much to the sly smiles of the passersby. I imagine and cook up stories in my head. I read like a maniac. I don’t follow schedules (well, at least most of the time!) Above all, I know for sure there’s no rush in life.
Some times (like how I feel now), I get into this ‘where do I want to be in the next five years’ mode? May be, I should start looking out for a low profile job? May be, I should get back to using my CA skills? At one point in the book, Nat’s mother Iris says this to Samantha, ‘Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing all the answers. You don’t always have to know who you are. You don’t have to have the big picture or know where you’re heading. Sometimes, it’s enough just to know what you’re going to do next.’ I felt that this piece of advice was not for Samantha but for me. So, what am I going to do next? Go ahead and clean the bathrooms. Heh.