The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Did you hear the one about the stay at home mom and the lightbulb?

A lightbulb burned out in my kitchen today. It will be the 5th lightbulb I have replaced in my kitchen or family room in the past month alone. There are 10 high hats in these two rooms, and I buy approximately 70 lightbulbs a year to keep them all burning bright. 70 lightbulbs a year. And each one comes in a package promising me 20 months of light. I was no math major, but if I'm going through 7 bulbs a year in each socket, I'm not getting any 20 months of illumination.

I finally read the fine print on that 20 month promise today, thinking the lightbulb industry owes me a boatload of restitution here, and I found the problem. That guarantee is based, they say, on an average 4 hours a day of usage. 4 hours a day. I think I probably use mine about 15 hours a day. Who the hell only needs to see things 4 hours a day?

The answer is obvious, of course. People who have jobs and lives require only 4 hours of light in their homes a day because they are out doing interesting and important things the rest of the time. They do not require floodlights for three year old dance recitals that look suspiciously like rodeos featuring small horses in tutus. They have no need of illumination to show their 20 month olds for the gazillionth time how to fit the triangular block in the triangular hole. There are no art projects being created at their kitchen tables that will necessitate bright lights to ensure all of the glitter glue has been scrubbed off their surfaces and children after certain chaos has ensued. They simply leave the house in the morning and go do what they've gotta do. And when they come home, maybe they flick on the lights for about 4 hours, but really, I don't see why they need to because hell, it's not like they're likely to trip over Legos or Little People if the room's a little dark.

My brother wondered aloud yesterday why I haven't shared this blog with him before, and I pondered the same question myself after reading his comments. I'd have felt a little awkward saying "hey, come read my narcissistic ramblings," and that's part of the answer, certainly. But the larger answer is that I simply find it hard to see how this, the minutiae of my life with small children, could possibly be all that interesting to anyone not currently going through the same crap I am. I remember how boring it was, pre-kids, to listen to parents prattle on ad nauseum about the cute things little Suzie and Joey were up to. I remember how self-absorbed they seemed and I recognize in myself now many of the same qualities I always abhorred in those people. And I hate the fact that I often simply don't have that much to say about that many things other than parenting these days. So sometimes it's easier to say nothing. I know that my brother is interested in his niece and nephew in the abstract, and I imagine he'd like to know my kids better than our 3,000 mile distance allows for at this point in our lives. But he's still using his lightbulbs the way the manufacturers intended. And until you're burning bulbs 'round the clock, you just don't think too much about lightbulbs. (Have I killed this metaphor yet?)

Dan, thank you for saying you came to know us all a little bit better through this blog. It made me feel good about what I've written here, like the hours I've spent recording this snapshot of our lives was worth it. I hope that some day, reading this blog will give my kids insight into their childhood and will give me a nostalgic walk down memory lane. It's hard to feel significant sometimes, when your days are spent screwing in lightbulbs. When I take a step back and write things down, sometimes I can find the hidden value in what I'm doing here. And on the days I still can't see it, when someone comes along and leaves me a comment like you did yesterday, well, at least I know I'm not sitting alone here in the dark.


At 3:43 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

I should probably leave the first comment to your brother, or maybe to Julia or Evan, but, well, I'm not going to...

I'm glad your brother left the comment he did, too. But, just in case you didn't see, I left him a small warning. I hope his discovery of your blog doesn't lead to your self-censorship. In case you didn't know it, and I think you do, what you do here is, in your own words, all good

Minutiae and narcissistic ramblings have their place, and right here it is.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Becca's Brother said...

Mildly ironic that you would use light bulbs as your metaphor given Dad’s profession.

I found your comment about not feeling significant when you spend you day screwing in light bulbs telling. While I can’t relate to your daily life as a stay at home mom, I am certain that in the grand scheme of things what you do with your day is much more significant than what I do with mine. You may feel more isolated at times, but raising Julia and Evan to be good people is certainly more important and significant then building databases. Sometimes it seems like we place more significance on the political minutia of a day at the office then we really should, while simultaneously missing the significance of the minutia of a day at home. I guess that is the whole point of the blog, isn’t it?

In response to ko_karam’s comment – I would hope that my presence would never make you self-censor. If it did, I hope you would let me know. Given the amount of time you have spent creating this it is clearly important to you and I would not want to ruin that. That being said, I’ve enjoyed seeing this side of you and your kids and hope that you don’t mind if I stop by from time to time and see how things are going. FYI this was written from home – check the IP address. Now you can tell whenever I’m reading – either at work or at home.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

OK, so that's officially the coolest part about you reading this, Dan. I debated including a sentence somewhere about Dad and lightbulbs but couldn't quite find the right fit, so I scrapped the thought. You got the joke, though, without me even having to write it!

I've always self-censored to an extent. Paul reads this periodically, I assume my kids will someday and, well, you never know who's going to stop by. :) I won't be doing more of it on your account and as I said last night, I hope you and Jordan *will* keep dropping by. Someone's got to catch my inside jokes!

At 9:04 PM, Blogger chichimama said...

I can't begin to tell you how many light bulbs we go through in our house, you've seen how dark it is even on thr brightest day. Never thought to do the math however. How depressing.

Since Dan is reading this, (hand waving) Hi Dan! Hi Jordan! It's Caroline in case you don't know who Chichi Mama is (I think Julia named me that pre-blog).

At 9:06 PM, Blogger chichimama said...

OK grammer queen, excuse the typo in the last comment, it won't let me go back in and edit it!

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

God, I get behind a day or two on the blogs and look what I've missed! I have nothing intelligent to say, because Julia is colicky and I am mentally absent -- but hi Dan, and wow, and all this sure has been interesting reading.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger chichimama said...

Red Faced. Typo in the typo post. I blame it on the learning disability....Blogger needs a spell check.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Steph said...

I've been here reading along with your brother's discovery. I think it's great that he is so interested in what is going on with you and your kids' lives. I don't know for sure what my brother's reaction would be to mine, but I don't think he would stick around for so long to find out.

Anyway, I can totally relate to your comments about feeling insignificant on days and not having much to contribute other than "parenting talk". But, as your brother pointed out, we're doing important stuff. We just need an outsider to point it out to us sometimes.

Ok, so I'm a little sleep-deprived today due to (another) middle of the night sheet change, so please excuse the general rambling on and lack of correct grammar ;), etc with this comment.

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Geez, I zone out for a couple of days and miss all the excitement. Welcome Rebecca's brother. You've got a great sister. Oh, and about those lightbulbs, another thing about no one being home during the day - the house doesn't get near as messy. :-)


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