Monday, April 23, 2012

midlife monday: the unrelenting tedium of it all

Don't let anyone fool you into believing staying at home is a mystical, magical and fulfilling occupation. It isn't. It is filled with long stretches of profound boredom interspersed with ho-hum. It's the kind of boredom that begs to be filled with busy-ness projects to make you feel like you are actually doing something ... until you stop and realise that your busy-ness lacks purpose and only exists to fill in the time yawning out in front of you. Betty Friedan describes it quite accurately in The Feminine Mystique, explaining that housework will always expand to fit and overspill whatever time there is available. It's the nature of unrelentingly tedious menial tasks, such as housework. The feeling of success or achievement in this occupation is fleeting and indeed mostly absent despite its obligatory nature. There is no reward for getting through the list; there is no personal satisfaction. The only thankfulness comes from others who sigh with relief that they haven't had to do it themselves and that it doesn't intrude on their relaxation leisure hours.

The only get-around it all is to convince yourself that the task at hand is mystical, magical and vital, and that only you can do it, and therefore you do have status. Sadly the realisation of it all being an illusion is too painful to cope with, so yet another busy-ness project is born.

So, while I do have a million-and-one things which need doing around the house, I really have no enthusiasm to do them because, in the long run, finishing them will make very little difference to my own day-to-day and I'm only adding them to my list to keep myself feeling busy and thus disguise the fact that what I do is actually not particularly meaningful at all.

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