Please let me preface this post by saying that I am in NO WAY whatsoever complaining about my husband or the fact that I'm blessed to have the funds to shop for healthy and yummy food. This is such a first world problem!
I have detested grocery shopping ever since I moved off campus into an apartment during college at the University of California at Santa Cruz. My mom wonderfully helped me set up a system of cutting up and freezing meat in single serving baggies to allow for easy preparation of meals such as chicken and veggie stir fry. She provided me with recipes that I grew up helping her cook. I enjoyed having friends over and cooking for them. Yet, I hated the task of grocery shopping.
For many years I would do all of my grocery shopping and cleaning on Sunday. Then I'd be vacuuming at 8:30 or 9 p.m. and never felt like I had a relaxing evening before heading to school or work the following day.
In 2004, when I met Mike, I owned a home while he was renting a room in a house with a number of other graduate students. A very picky eater and one who does not cook, grocery shopping for the home just wasn't really on his radar.
When we were first married in 2005, I do have to realistically say that the household duties were unbalanced. I was teaching full time and Mike was going through the grueling process of completing his Ph.D. I continued to do ALL the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and getting Mike to help with yard work was like pulling teeth. There are a few reasons for this.
1. My dirt threshold is MUCH LOWER than Mike's. This means that something being dirty or messy bothers me much sooner than it bothers Mike. He would eventually be compelled to clean or sort things, but that would be at a much later time than I could handle. Because of this, I just did it.
2. I needed to learn how to ask for help. Mike didn't grow up doing much around the house for him to notice something that needed to be done and take the initiative to do it. I would get so overwhelmed by housework on top of my teaching, that I would get frazzled and lash out at Mike. Of course he then didn't want to help me. I needed to learn how to ask for help and allow him the time to complete the task when it worked for his schedule. He also needed to learn what things just needed to be done that he could help with without my having to ask each and every time.
3. I have tremendous difficulty letting house cleanliness and order go in an effort to do the enjoyable things such as practicing, composing, reading, etc. I'm admitting a huge personality flaw in this post in stating that I put too much pressure on MYSELF to have an extremely clean and orderly house. I recognize that and wish I could change that about myself, but no luck so far.
After we were married, I continued to do my grocery shopping and cleaning on Sundays. I was working full time as a Montessori teacher, and all I wanted to do after teaching was to come home, not grocery shop. I know the difficulty of balancing work, household chores, relaxation, and fun is a natural part of the human race. I would be frustrated and resentful each and every Sunday as I tried to balance sleeping in, feeding myself, grocery shopping, and cleaning the house as Mike slept in until noon and played video games. It was after I had an emotional melt down that Mike offered a suggestion. Why didn't I go grocery shopping and cleaning on weekdays? Even though we made financial decisions together, Mike has always wonderfully taken on the responsibility of record keeping and bill paying.
I decided to clean on Wednesdays as he was at bowling. Thursdays became my grocery shopping day. I would stop off at both Trader Joe's and Stater Bros. on my way home from work. Then by the time I got home with groceries and Mike would help me unload them and put them away, I was STARVING and too tired to consider cooking. I had just spent this time and money buying groceries, but Thursdays after grocery shopping became our going out to eat night of the week.
In 2009 I quit my Montessori teaching career with the move to Colorado. I wanted to focus on my music career and the process of adoption. It was also when I stopped working full time that Mike and I managed to work out a more even distribution of household tasks and find our rhythm. I have gotten much better at asking for help when needed, and he now has taken responsibility of household tasks without having to be asked each and every time. Every night after dinner I do the dishes and start the dishwasher. Now without having to be specifically asked even when there were dishes piling up in the sink, he unloads the dishwasher each and every night.
I still took charge of meal planning and grocery shopping. I was the one in this partnership who now had the time to do the shopping, and I was still the one doing the cooking. I still despised grocery shopping, but was happy that I now had more available time in which to do it. No matter how I worked it, I would always be at the grocery store starving for lunch. People always suggested going once Mike got home from work. When Mike came home from work, we were always starving for dinner and wanted to spend that time together. My grocery shopping days also include lots of prep work cutting up meat, veggies, and fruit to allow for less work throughout the week with snack and meal preparation. As a mom I've been frustrated that on Thursdays I always felt like I did the bare minimum with my daughter as I was busy doing these things.
A few months ago Mike wonderfully offered to take over the Safeway or King Soopers shopping. He's responsible for buying his pop, which I don't drink and have trouble reaching in the store. This way I can do a weekly run to Sprouts or Trader Joe's and he takes care of the going to one of the other stores for bread, pop, and other small things. This is a HUGE help, as going to even one store is difficult with a baby.
Part of my issue is just my personality. I find it difficult to accept that I am unable to do EVERY THING EVERY DAY. It is impossible to exercise, practice all 5 instruments I play, compose, cook, keep up with housework, spend the day cuddling my baby, crochet, etc. all in one day. Mike jokes that if there were more hours in the day it would not help alleviate my to do list, but it would cause me to add to my to do list. I am one who usually lets the other enjoyable things go to allow time to maintain order in my house. I'm working on that, but to be honest, I've been working on it for many years, and think I will be working on finding that balance each of my remaining days on Earth.
So yesterday I had a revelation. Why don't I skip my morning run on grocery shopping days, and get up and go shopping in my sweats, glasses, and without makeup? I would never before thought of being seen grocery shopping in this state. And I can look quite scary when I wake up!
So this morning I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The woman working at the meat counter and the cashier recognized me. I am still the same person. Neither of the commented on my lack of beautification this morning.
I LOVED this new routine as it allowed me to get home with groceries put away and prepped, and the kitchen all cleaned BEFORE lunch. I still hated grocery shopping, but certainly made for a smoother day! Rose even took her late morning snooze as I worked away prepping food. I also had the opportunity to dance around my music studio to Disney with Rose. It's now 1 p.m. as I finish writing this. Rose and I are about to go take our afternoon nap.
Why do women in general, and mothers specifically put so much pressure on themselves? I get no pressure from Mike whatsoever to have the house spotless or to always have the healthy yummy meal ready on time. I put the pressure upon myself. I dislike that, but no matter how hard I try to convince myself otherwise, those feelings are still present.
A few months ago I even came up with a new mantra: I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH of a mother. I AM ENOUGH of a wife. I AM ENOUGH of a musician. This new mantra doesn't keep me from having these feelings. It does help serve as a reminder that I can not do it all, and the only one who has ever expected me to be able to do so is me! So I think I will continue to do my grocery shopping early in the morning in my sweats, glasses, and without makeup. I am human after all. Just another person in search of balance in life.