There are two kinds of bored. The good kind, where you don’t have anything to do and you haven’t figured out what you are going to do next. And the bad kind, where you are doing something, but you wish you weren’t.
My boys tell me regularly that they are bored. They don’t realize it, but they are talking about the good kind. When I hear this, I think to myself, “I can’t remember the last time I was good bored.” The bad kind, on the other hand, is something I feel almost daily.
While I love my family deeply, I find being a stay-at-home mom to be mind-numbingly boring. There, I said it.
I’ve looked for a part-time flexible job, but the reality is that these jobs are very few and far between. And with three young children and a husband who travels regularly, I would probably not be the most reliable employee. In the last month alone I had two days with different kids home sick. Taking a job outside the home might allow me to use my brain more and socialize with adults, but it would create a lot of other stresses for me and the family in general. So for now, I feel like my job is to be on-call for the family. When someone needs picked up sick from school, needs to stay home sick, or needs to go to the doctor or dentist, I can take them — free from guilt about missing work. I’m okay with that. I like taking care of my family when they need to be cared for. I want to be able to take care of them free from any guilt. They are my priority. But what percentage of the time do they actually need to be cared for in this way? 5%? And the rest of the time I’m just on-call. Meal planning. Making grocery lists. Running errands. Looking at the dust accumulate because I just can’t manage to care enough to dust (unless company is coming). Filling my time with this and that until it’s time to meet the bus or make dinner. I almost fell asleep just writing about it.
My boys aren’t babies anymore so they aren’t literally attached to me the way they once were. They are starting to play at friends’ houses and run around the neighborhood for hours at a time. I am home for them, but not really with them.
Since I choose not to work outside the home, but am bored being home, without realizing it, I gave myself the unpaid job of researcher. I don’t remember when my research obsession began, but I’m guessing it started around the same time that I stopped working. Something would catch my attention and I’d starting putting books on hold on the library and surfing around trying to learn whatever I could. Some recent self-evaluation brought me to the conclusion that I might always be finding these new research projects in order to keep my brain stimulated. I overwhelm myself with a dozen or more books on a certain subject and once I’ve made my way through them, gotten my notes in order and my opinions formed, it doesn’t seem like much time passes before I find myself diving into another subject. And while I find great pleasure and satisfaction in acquiring this new knowledge and keeping my brain active, I wonder what would happen if I let myself get good bored. Would it be like an extended period of meditation where if I let my mind stay empty long enough some pretty profound stuff comes through? Would I use the time to exercise because I don’t have a pile of books as an excuse not to? Would I hear an inner voice whispering direction? Would I go crazy? Would I start liking housework because I have nothing better to do? (Maybe the crazy started with that last one.
I’d like to find out what will happen so I’ve committed to not taking on any new research projects for a while. I’ve committed to not putting any more non-fiction books on hold at the library. I’ve committed to trying to let myself get good and bored. Getting quiet. Listening.