On Being a Work-At-Home-Crazy-Cat-Lady
Sticker Shock

The Indoor Wife

Jason recently started attending pick-up games at a local indoor soccer place. It's been something he's been talking about doing for ages, but considering the last time he played any "serious" soccer was at least 20 years ago, he was understandably a little nervous about it. Finally he just accepted that he might very well be the worst player there, but dammit, he was going to show up and play.

His first time out, he scored three goals. He came home exhausted and sore and completely ecstatic. He missed playing even more than he realized, he said, and it was thrilling how the skills he assumed were completely dormant after all that time just...started coming back. He wasn't the worst player there, but that didn't even matter. Because dammit,  that person still decided to show up and play, and had a great time doing it. 

The next day we got to talking about it, about why he never did join a league or find a pick-up game -- our old place in Bethesda was literally a block away from a public field. Sure, some of it was the typical "what if I suck now/can't keep up" worries as middle age creeps up on you, but considering we've been together since we were 19 and 20 years old and I've never known him to play even once in that entire span of time, there must have been another reason. 

Turns out, I was the reason.

I mean, not really. Obviously I never forbade him from playing soccer or anything like that. Whenever he toyed with the idea of joining a league I always encouraged him, told him that sounded like a great idea. You know, for him. Not me. I played soccer in elementary school, but only because they made us. I hated every minute of it, especially the minute when I got hit in the face really hard with the ball. Ugh, I hate playing soccer. 

And so Jason wouldn't join the league or attend that pick-up game after all, because we'd opt to spend that time doing something we both enjoyed instead. And we had a lot of things to pick from! We still do! Cooking classes, wineries, restaurants, the theater, art shows, museums, movies, TV -- we had lots of similar tastes and interests in common. And then we had a kid, then two more, and so we did things together with them. When we had time away from the kids, well...naturally we were gonna spend that time doing something we both wanted to do, together. 

And so Jason still wouldn't join the league, or attend that pick-up game after all. 

Until now, when he finally did. 

"Is there anything you don't do anymore because I don't?" he asked me, "Something you miss?"

I had to think about it. And then:

"I miss reading books."

This is a shameful admission, coming from a current professional writer-type, a former English major, and someone who used to be a pretty voracious reader and book nerd. I still read, of course, but in that moment I couldn't remember the last full book I read strictly for the sheer pleasure of it. 

These days I'm sadistically drowning myself in political coverage, with maybe the occasional break for some stupid quiz or celebrity clickbait. Everyday I read the NYTimes in its entirety. I read just about everything at The Atlantic and Politico and NPR, I subscribe to Vanity Fair and am tempted to pony up for WashPo as well. I've refreshed Google News approximately 700 times today, in search of more words and opinions and well...anything to help make sense of the latest batshittery

A far cry from the days when I would curl up on the couch and lose myself in a story that wasn't real life. 

Jason reads all this crap as well (though is much better at keeping his media diet at a more reasonable "you do not need to read 25 different op-ed pieces about the same scrap of news" level), but our tastes in actual books never really overlapped. Even I read something I thought was amazing, there was a limit to how much I could talk to him about it before his eyes glazed over, like ours do now at the mention of Minecraft. 

Back when I had my office job, a group of us regularly passed books around. It wasn't a proper book club, per se, just a random bunch of women with similar tastes who were happy to lend our latest recommendation out in exchange for something new. Most of the time, I did my reading over my lunch break or in the block of time when I got home from work but before Jason did. Once he walked in, I'd set the book aside so we could talk/cook/watch TV together. Once I had Noah and left that job, both my source of steady new reading material (and those nice blocks of alone-reading time) vanished. 

I'd always buy books (or later, load up my Kindle) before traveling, foolishly hoping that I'd find time to read on the plane, the train, the beach. But instead of reading, I'd end up too focused on the kids, either to keep them from bothering other passengers or like, running into the ocean and drowning the second I took my eyes off them. Or I'd end up working the whole time, or just playing a game on my phone, or listening to a podcast, or just refreshing Google News 700 times because he rode down an escalator and said WHAT? Really? Lol.

"You should read more books then," Jason told me. 

"I should," I replied. "I will."

And I did.

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(BABY STEPS, PEOPLE. IT'S TECHNICALLY NOT REAL LIFE YET, OKAY?)

 

 

Comments

jodi

That's my favorite book of all time.

I read about a book a week, and I keep track of all of them of good reads. I'm happy to talk books with you whenever you would like.

Lindsey

Jodi - would you send me or post a list of books you have enjoyed? I'm on partial bedrest and have tons of time on my hands, plus love to read.

nicole

Handmaid's is on my list as well, I can't believe I haven't read it already. the hulu series is fantastic if not completely terrifying.

A little over a year ago I took a pottery class at a local studio and I've been hooked ever since. It's most certainly my happy place and I try my best to get in to the studio at least one time every weekend outside my regular class time. It's not something my husband is remotely interested in but he encourages me and tries not to complain too much about how there's no room for anymore mugs in our cabinets.

SarahB

Good for you!

I started up a hobby about a year ago, and my husband told me that it as nice to see me doing something "selfish" for once. He has started one up too.

Also, limiting the political stuff so you can read fiction instead is a great, great thing.

Kena Fauntleroy

I've realized the same thing...since I had my two kids (7 and 3), I don't really read anymore. I just bought a Kindle Paperwhite and am trying Prime Reading to see how I like it. I'm reading a book now called Yellow Crocus which is actually pretty good so far.
I am scared to read The Handmaid's Tale....

Pictou

Handmaid's Tale ebook is FREE with Amazon Prime.

Deb

I've just returned to reading, too. My boys are 8 & 5. One of the best books I've read recently is "Modern Girls" by Jennifer Brown. Jodi, please share your goodreads profile!

MJ

Let me know when you want book recommendations. When my kids were young one of them asked me what I liked to do. "I like to read," I said. His reply: "You don't read; Daddy reads." I realized that they never saw me reading, because the only time I had to read was those few moments just before I went to sleep. So let your children see you reading for pleasure! And one set of recommendations, since I can't resist: Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series. Each book focuses on a different person in the department, and they are as much character studies as they are mysteries. Start with the first one, Fairhful Place. You're welcome.

Shay

I highly reccomend, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Amazing book!! One of the best i've read in a long time.

Kelly

I have a few authors that I will buy their books on kindle or in hardback, but I have switched to Fan fiction for the most part. You have to wade through some of them, for Grammer and punctuation. But, there are some really good stories in different fandoms. Some of these can stretch to series length. I have read in the Sherlock, Bond, Buffy, Teen Wolf, and One Direction fandoms. Yes, I am in my mid 40s. However, since these are free, they have saved me a lot of money spent buying books. Check out 'Archive Of Our Own'.

CAtkins

I read a bunch too and second the Tana French books. They're very good. I also highly suggest reading Fredrik Backman's book. "A Man Called Ove" is amazing.
I have a Goodreads profile as well I'd be happy to share. There's some of everything on there.

SparkleP

Good for you!

cindy

I took up roller derby as a hobby a little over a year ago. It was awesome! Bad-ass women, excellent workouts, and I was pleased that my 41-year-old self could sort of keep up with women half my age. Then I broke my leg during practice and spent my birthday in the hospital after emergency surgery. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. I'm mostly back to normal, but now with lots more hardware inside my leg. I'm pretty sure that story is going to be told at my funeral, like "Remember when she started playing roller derby? And then ended up in a wheelchair? Good times."

jodi

Here is my goodreads profile:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/34841505-jodi

This is my all time faves list:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/34841505-jodi?shelf=all-time-faves:

Qwyneth

Oh wow. This pretty much entirely describes my life. And since reading has always been my prime self-care strategy, it's having a big impact. It makes me feel better to know I'm not the only book nerd, English major, (former) professional who so how lost that in becoming a mom and wife.

One book I have managed to read is The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison. It's not unlike A Handmaid's Tale, but a bit more current and with added queer flavor. It's award winning, and there's now a sequel out. Totally worth it.

Carrie H.

I cannot stress enough the joys of the public library. Reading is EASY, people, and getting your books for free is just plain common sense. Plus, you can be freer to try new books or authors. You don't like it? Return it! You didn't pay for that book. No guilt. My library has a "list" feature built into the catalog. Anytime I read a book review or hear about a book I would like, I just drop it onto my library account list and can then request it from the library whenever I'm ready to read. If my local library doesn't have it, they get it in a few days from our shared library consortium. Don't many of us go to the library every week or two with our kids? Go for yourself as well. And while e-reading has its portability perks (and hello, libraries loan e-books too), there's nothing like reading a real book in front of your kids, instead of looking at another screen.

OK. Sermon over.

Sarahd

Pictou, THANK YOU for that information. I've been meaning to read it (like all the rest of the politically terrified world) but "free" was the final push I needed.

Cheryl S.

I just got back to reading about a year ago. My daughter is 11 and when I don't have to help her with homework after dinner, I get a chance to read! I love it. Jodi's favorites list has some great books on it. If you haven't read it, 11/22/63 by Stephen King was AMAZING. (It's not horror, don't worry.)

Victoria

I just picked this up too - I read constantly and this is right up my alley, but never got off my TBR pile until now. It is FANTASTIC, halfway through at least.

I really want to start up a Silent Book Club near me, look for a local chapter - it is all about making time to read, just for you. https://silentbook.club/

Elizabeth_K

So awesome --- thanks for sharing --- it's kind of Jason and you to figure out why you are choosing each other instead of hobbies -- and totally awesome for you to then choose hobbies, TOO. Also, isn't it so so so nice to be past the diaper stage? Mine are 9, 7, 5 and it just feels like a honeymoon (with temper tantrums, still, of course, but ... you know).

Olivia

Good for you. It's wonderful that Jason supports you on taking time for yourself. I know too many women whose husbands actively guilt trip them about doing things for themselves.

I am not a voracious reader. It can take me weeks to finish a book because I tend to read news and blogs and facebook during the day. But, I always read for at least 10 minutes before I go to sleep.

Patty

Natchez Burning. Stephen King recommended this book on Facebook. OMG I can't put it down.

Judy

Patty, all of Greg Iles' books are awesome. When you finish the Penn Cage books, try "Spandau Phoenix".

A book that has stuck with me recently is "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult. I read it, then immediately turned back to the beginning and reread it. I've read it five times now.

Stacy

I second Carey on the awesomeness of libraries. Also, Hoopla. You can get it through many public libraries and it has a ton of digital books, movies, and (my personal favorite) comic books. If you love comic books, you really need to see if your local library has Hoopla. I also have a Kindle and a library of several thousand books. But, reading books is harder, because they are longer. Comic books can be read in about 10 minutes (and sometimes, you can read them with your kids). I'm on the last book of the Wheel of Time series (slug through 7-10. It's worth it), then we're starting the Harry Potter series as a family.

Nicki

The last book of wheel of time really was fantastic, beyond my expectations. Listening to fiction podcasts and audio books on my commute or on planes has been a great way to keep up with "reading" during periods when reading a physical book wasn't practical.

Harry Potter fans should really give Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality a try, but fair warning, nothing else in my life got accomplished until I finished it because I simply couldn't remove my eyeballs from that book. So if you've got say, a job or children who should be kept alive perhaps stay away.

Karla

I read all the same current affairs sites and periodicals you do, as well as The New Yorker, the New York Times and Washington Post. I highly recommend WaPo— you ought to be able to get a decent online subscription with a little persistence, or a print version that covers your area. The political writing is stellar; I subscribed so I wouldn't miss any of newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner Kurt Eichenwald's pieces. Both the NYT and WaPo subscriptions are WAY up this past year—not "failing" at all. In these times, good journalism may be our salvation.

Sherry

You should get on Goodreads and start a book bunch. We cold be called The book Bags!

Katie

Yep. This. Before I met my husband and had kids I would read all the time. But now I ever get to read. I actually read several books when I had a newborn because I would read while I nursed. I miss reading so much

Amy A

Good for you! Reading sustains me. It's always been my favorite thing, and now that I've reached middle age with grown children I find myself gravitating even more to just settling back with something great, or even just good, to read.
On another note, I gave up Trump for Lent and found that unplugging myself from him and his assfoolery was the best mental health boost I could have done. Now I'm easing myself back, in small doses, but simply cannot do full immersion. Highly recommend!

Brigette

Here is my Goodreads profile for anyone who would like to connect:
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3209103-brigette

I mostly like urban fantasy, dystopia, and zombies these days. :)

I do a lot of "reading" via Audible in the car - my commute most work days is 2+ hours, and having my book going helps it not be so stressful. Bonus, I can also listen while I fold the endless piles of laundry.

I hate to add to your news reading list but have you considered the Financial Times? I started reading them about a year ago online and I really enjoy the non-US perspective on a variety of topics. Plus, I 'hear' them reading it in my head in that great BBC news announcer voice.

RzDrms

Patty & Judy: I bought that Greg Iles trilogy because of what Stephen King said; so Natchez Burning is that good??! I'm on Chapter Two. I've also noted "Small Great Things" and will get from library asap. Thanks!

Amalah: I'm watching that on Hulu right now. Ermahgosh....SOOO GOOD! My husband doesn't like it though so I rush through it fast. (Love it.)

Highly recommend WashPo. I need to read more of the NYT, and everything in general. Thanks for the kick in the rump!

Erin Reece

I just got back into reading this year, too! I also picked up an audio book habit, which might be cheating, but I don't care because I get the same enjoyment from it that I do while reading with the added bonus of making my commute more enjoyable. Anyway, I'm on Goodreads, too. We should all form a little Goodreads group.... even if you're just seeing the books people are reading floating by, it's a great way to find new books! Also, I'm doing a Goodreads reading challenge... 30 books in 2017. I'm 30% of the way there. (The audio books really help inflate my numbers haha.)

Full name in the comment in case any of you want to link up on GR!

Lesli

The Handmaid's Tale is great, my favorite Margaret Atwood novel. And I'll also recommend the Tana French Dublin Murder Squad series, if you like mysteries; I just recently found out about it from another online discussion of what to read (I don't know how I had missed it since I love mysteries but I had), but the first one is In the Woods. Faithful Place is actually third in the series. I also recently read The Nix by Nathan Hill and it was excellent. Some YA series are so well done; try Maggie Steifvater's Raven Boys Cycle or Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. And since I'm a librarian, I'll also plug libraries. We're here for you!

Karen

Awesome, Amy! And THANK YOU to everyone for the recommendations.
I love to read outdoors when the weather is nice.
We are renting a low-maintenance townhouse right now, so I have the time. Woot!

michelle b

Amy, please, please start a book club on goodreads we can all join. In the meantime, I also recommend Tana French, read in publication date order, also A Man Called Ove. I didn't see Exit West recommended by anyone else, it is also great.

Marianne

Love this post. It's very similar to my having only read like, 4 books in the past two years - aside from textbooks or work-related books.

I read the Handmaid's Tale in 2000, while I was so distraught about the election (those were the days).

Thanks for all of the suggestions, ladies.

Meredith

OH man, Bad time to read that book. I've read it about five time. First when I was about 19 or 20, then a few times when Bush was President. Scared the crap out of me because I was convinced it was feasible. Scared every single time I used a MAC machine. Yes, MAC, not ATM.. I am old. I can't imagine reading it now during the current administration. Good Luck!

Emily

@Carrie I'm pretty young (mid-twenties) and I'm always surprised by how few of my friends and acquaintances use their local libraries. Free books! Free membership! With long lending times, and renewals if you still need more time and CHEAP overdue fees and the ability to borrow/return your book to any library in your library's "group"... also hundreds of magazines, movies/tv shows and computer games all for FREE BORROWING! I mean all those expensive toddler teaching DVDs that you think "Oh wouldn't that be neat?" like Signing Time and Little Pim - your library probably has them! Seasons of That Show that you vowed to catch up on one day? Your library probably has that, too! And then there's all of the community programs!
Our library honestly has such a great kid's play section, and it's so nice to bring my daughter and watch her play trains/blocks/whatever with other kids while I curl up in a cushy armchair nearby and read. They even have a service dog come in once a month that kids can read to and pat. Another library in our city has a nice outdoor garden area for sitting and reading in which is super nice in the summer.
If you love to read and you haven't checked out your local libraries in a while (or ever) DO IT. It's so incredibly worth it.

Sarah

God, I miss reading actual books. I read all the internets, but can't manage to sustain the attention span to read a book, let alone a magazine anymore. I now rely heavily on audiobooks. I still wish to read a real book, but this feels the gap.

It dawned on my last weekend while attempting yet again to read in the car that my not reading wasn't due to laziness. In the twenty minutes I was trying to read, I swear someone, legit child or man-child, requested my attention in some manner every 4 minutes. No wonder I can never get into the reading groove! That revelation made me feel so much better.

Nicole

Just wanted to let you know that if you are an Amazon Prime member you can get 6 months of Washington Post digital access for free.

Lindsay

I love just seeing your list of obsessive news checks (me too!)

I So feel you on missing reading. The few real pleasure books I've read since I've had kids felt so good and brought back a part of me that is otherwise just in a coma. I bet I'm not the only one who would be into seeing a favorite books of all time post.

Heidi

Thank you for this. I read a whole lot when my older son (a bit older than Noah) was a baby, because the only place he'd nap was ON ME. So I got good at squintily reading in semi-dark rooms. But my reading declined after napping ceased, and my second son was a good napper, so there were always things to be done. In the past few years, I've realized that I'm happiest when I'm involved in a good book--it's such a pleasure to be caught up in worlds and lives that are not my own, and to marvel at the beauty of words and finely-tuned sentences and deep truths. Some of my recent favorites are All the Light We Cannot See, Station Eleven, and anything by Tana French, Curtis Sittenfeld, Kate Atkinson, and Joanna Rakoff. I've also had a lot of fun with books from my childhood, mostly ones that kids today wouldn't bother with: Edward Eager's books, starting with Half Magic, and Lucy Boston's Green Knowe series. I'm sure I'll think of others shortly.

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