The Long Dark Tea-Time of the WAHM Soul

Linda Sharps
Healthy Living

It has been a chilly and unusually wet spring here in Seattle, and I have the increasingly maddening feeling that the boys and I have been cooped up indoors for months and months on end—possibly due to the fact that we have been cooped up indoors for months and months on end.

I left my office job last September, so this is now the longest I've been at home ... well, ever, really. In my adult life anyway. Aside from an unpleasant stint of unemployment back in 2002 and a couple 3-month maternity leaves, I've always worked outside the home.

There are lots of things I've had to adjust to, including the reality of a lifestyle that involves interacting with exactly one adult—my husband—on a regular basis. I have an enormous amount of freedom these days, but I also live in near-total isolation. I don't mean we never leave the house, I mean the things my kids and I do, we do as a threesome. 

They aren't in school yet and I don't have coworkers or PTA buddies or even friends who live nearby. Hell, ever since I cancelled my gym membership in favor of home workouts and running, I don't even see my fellow CrossFit masochists anymore.

For the most part, I'm fine with this. I've always been somewhat of a hermit by nature, and the boys have each other—they don't seem to be pining for the company of other kids, and even when we're around other kids (at the playground or their shared gymnastics class), they stick together.

Howevvvvvvver. There are really only so many long afternoons a person can spend inside with a couple of rambunctious small children, and I am almost certain we passed our quota a long time ago. During these endless cloudy-sky months, I've made baking soda volcanoes, dragged out paint and Play-Doh, searched out non-objectionable YouTube videos, baked applesauce muffins, invented crumpled-paper-ball games, and danced around the living room to They Might Be Giants.

Those are the good days. On the days when the clock inches forward at a glacially slow pace and the nonstop shrieking cacophony of the children drills directly into my painfully tender brain-meat, I turn on Curious George for the frillionth time and I snap and snarl about how EVERYONE NEEDS TO QUIET DOWN OR ELSE and I smash my face up against the front window like a bereft forgotten collie and I wonder just why the hell I ever thought the kids would be better off with me at home.

Most of our days tend to hum along nicely until mid-afternoon. After I've finished my third article for the day and we've done some schoolwork and everyone's had lunch and I've used the kids' quiet time to exercise and I've maybe even managed to brush my teeth and style my hair, it's 3:30 p.m. and I am often overwhelmed with restlessness and ... well, I can't lie: with boredom.

That's when both kids sense weakness and move in for the kill, begging to play Cowboys or Star Wars Guys or Sickly Animals in Need of a Vet Visit or any one of about 50 games of pretend that involve a magical sense of imagination that I lost decades ago, and soon my throat hurts from talking in squeaky injured-hamster voices or husky Darth Vader tones and oh my fucking GOD what time is it it's 3:32.

I keep telling myself that once the weather gets nicer, our afternoons will improve in leaps and bounds. We'll go play in the backyard, we'll go to parks, we'll go on picnics, whatever, but 3:30 won't be as dreary and impossible as it is right now. Then again, I suspect I may find myself sitting in full sunshine with a tinkling glass of iced tea at hand, still glancing at my watch and going, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, 3:34??

3:30 was always the hardest part of my office work day too, now that I think of it. What about you—do you have one particular time each day that tends to drag?

Image via Flickr/Doug_Wertman

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