Mother as Refugee, Part II

Stemming from the author’s note I addended to my last piece, I have some more thoughts to share on the idea of mother as refugee.  I alluded to the fact that my musings obviously came from a very ‘first world problem’ place.  Even had I not used that actual phrase, there were many details in my post that gave me away.

Assumption: access to child care

To escape, i.e. leave one’s home, someone else has to watch the kids.  While many mothers may dream of it, the point is moot if there is no one to care for the children in their absence.

Assumption: a partner in child-rearing

Raising one’s children with a support partner – both emotionally and logistically – frees one to care for oneself, offers the space to do so, validates the importance of . . . an act which is exponentially harder without one.

Assumption: financial solvency

My piece presupposes that there is extra room in one’s budget for such frivolity as a fancy coffee drink.  Buying a coffee I could’ve made at home is a luxury I need to plan for in my first world budget.  It’s also a way to secure space in the establishment.  For mothers with low incomes, buying a drink in exchange for a seat isn’t even an option.  This also assumes that one doesn’t first have to pay for child care in order to get some time to oneself, in which case even an overpriced cup of coffee is a drop in the bucket.

Assumption: local resources/community

A latte at a coffee house as self-care is the ultimate example of white mom privilege.  Coffee shops – one really – are also the only places in my mostly rural town that are open in the evenings.  If the library happens to be open when I get the chance to escape, there isn’t a quiet section for me to hide.  I’ve resorted to sitting in my car in some picturesque spot, but that only works during daylight hours in warm weather.  Winter in the Northeast is not conducive to this.  In other words, place plays a large role in the opportunities available to mothers.  If there is no building, no business with availability that suits her schedule and economic needs, there is no escape.   

Assumption: home as a safe and comforting place

Perhaps home as it exists is a very triggering place.  Some mothers may associate their surroundings with abusive episodes or people who live(d) there.  The emotions elicited may be polar opposite to the relaxation response.  Others may be overwhelmed by the sight of dishes to wash or piles of laundry to process, a very real and overwhelming reminder of her daily duties.  Or perhaps others expect her to perform such duties when at home or consider her time squandered.

I cannot assume that I’ve done any justice to the situations I’ve described above.  I cannot presume what it is like to actually live in such conditions.  I only open them in an attempt to unpack some of my own privilege and honor the experience of every mother.

 

The Changing of the Clothes

In just ten easy steps, you, too, can get your children’s drawers ready for fall and winter!

1.  Save every possible stitch of hand-me-down clothing you can get your hands on, even items your previous child may have loathed or ones they loved so much they near extinction.

2.  Wait until the switch is absolutely essential.  That month or so of sweatshirt mornings/shorts afternoons – way too early.  You must relish those last-minute mornings of fishing the one clean pair of long pants out of a random laundry basket.  Searching out hooded sweatshirts shoved into the sandy bottom of your forlorn beach bag – priceless.

3.  Reassess the situation when your children have shivered onto the bus for six consecutive school days.  Ensure that the sixth day follows a weekend.  See if it wasn’t just an acclimation period.  Grudgingly drag one bin up from the basement and pull from that during this waiting period.  If needed, you may also pull one stretched out kitchen garbage bag into your child’s room.  The clothes in this bag, however, may not be of any use to you as they were the ones that might not fit next season, but were so stinking cute you couldn’t bear to part with them.  Now is the time.

4.  After three days and nights of your children plying you to change out their drawers and your frantic scrambling to find clothes that fit them, but still sending them off looking like three of Fagin’s minions, start pulling your youngest’s summer shirts out of the baskets in her closet.  Make a pile of outgrown clothes to donate, a pile of ones that might not fit next season, but are so stinking cute you can’t bear to part with them, and a pile of those that certainly won’t fit next season but could work under a sweater right now.

5.  Leave these three piles on the floor of her bedroom for a day and a half.  Be sure to yell at your other children for knocking over and mixing up the piles.

6.  Open the one bin you’ve dragged up from the basement and put the shirts from it into the baskets in the closet you just cleared out.

7.  Repeat step 4 1/2, 5, and 6 for pants, sweatshirts, pjs, and bathing suits (the spot of which will now be filled by sweaters).

8.  Shove the rest of the clothes which you do not have room for – but are in perfectly good shape and kids are so messy you could always use an extra pair – into any nook, cranny, or hole you can find in their closet.

9.  Take the one bin you’ve managed to empty and bring it into your oldest’s daughter’s room.  Put her outsized clothes into it, where they will stay for the 2.5 years it will take for your next child to grow into them.

10.  Put all the newly filled bins back into the basement where they would sit collecting cobwebs for three months – except that in two weeks you’ll have to move them all about to get the one on the bottom into which you must place three more items you found lingering at the bottom of the hamper two weeks too late.

from operationwife.com

from operationwife.com

And that’s all there is to a smooth wardrobe transition from one season to another!  Easy Peasy!

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