Friday, 2 January 2009

Getting into a routine yet?

Well. We've all been doing this new life now for 1 month.
Are we getting into a routine? Is it getting easier...for all of us?

In some ways, yes.

The apartment basically is ok for okaasan. She covers it all with clothes and bags of stuff, but she seems happy in it. She can use the bath, with one of us in the living room in case she has problems, and she can prepare simple foods for herself with the microwave and the hot water pot. She can go out to the shops, and get home again safely. But we haven't got her into any kind of life here where she can meet other people - Hula dance classes for example. We have to try more on that front.

Daily routine is kind of getting set. Although now is an unusual time because it is winter holidays and he is home with a torn ligaments. And I am home on holiday. (The cat is SO happy to have us here by the way!).

Every morning I go into okaasan to say Goodmorning, give her a weather report and check that the heating is ok. About 11 am or a bit later she comes into us for a mid-day meal. We try to have a small breakfast, so we can eat our lunch with her. Otherwise the center of the day is full of food preparation.
Food is all New Year things at the moment - today I got praise all round for my ozoni - soup with vegetables and rice cakes. But the rest is easy: the pot of vegetables and chicken that okaasan made, and various seaweed/fish paste/bean things that she has bought. In duplicate.

After midday meal she goes home and we have some kind of afternoon.

About 6.30 - 7 p.m. we telephone her to get her ready for coming here for dinner.
We set the table. We get out the extra chair.
She comes and we eat. He chats away with lots of funny stories. I do oyomesan stuff.
I can now time the green tea making and know how to boil the water, how much tea to put in the strainer - how to pour it into the soup or rice bowl so it can be drunk and clean out the bowl.

Okaasan usually stays until about 8 or 8.30 p.m.. Then I walk back home with her and check the heating one more time.

Then I come home and we spend the rest of the evening together, drinking more alcohol and watching movies or TV.
(and yes, if you're wondering...we do have a love life too...the first week or so he was keener than I have energy and interest again!)

But there are stresses. "My" time is so precious. In the psychology of this situation I know I am escaping a lot. Coming upstairs here to play computer games. Lots of evasive actions: the other night I found myself, rather bizarrely, repairing the hall curtains just before New Year's Eve dinner...looking back, I know it was because it was something
I needed/wanted to do. Without THEM.

I guess the situation is made a bit stranger because HE is home and sitting on the sofa all day in front of TV. So I can't find my own time away from okaasan even in my own living room. I come upstairs to the computer room a lot. He did so much New Year cooking and I worry that he has been standing on his leg too much.

It all makes me think about how, if we move house, we can make it easier. The other day I was in a friend's big apartment as he packed up to move back to the US. Vaguely I was looking at the large apartment and wondering how it would be for us to live there. In fact we really need a garden and a parking space...but it was interesting to run the ideas through the brain.

The apartment had a big room off the hallway and near the bathroom - and then a separate door into the living/kitchen/bedroom area. I imagined us living there. But - then I knew - I would REALLY need more than just an internal door between me and okaasan!
I want to be able to walk around my home naked.... if I want. I want to stretch out drunk on the living room carpet. Dance with the cat in my pyjamas. I want to chase my man around in his underpants.

I DON'T want his mum in my living room unexpectedly!!!
So. Whatever we do. That would have to be a consideration. We need more space. But I need MY space.

Many families in Japan live behind the same front door, but in separate rooms with their own TVs. But I can't do that. I need to be able to close the door and know that my home in mine.

Anyway. Tonight I am escaping to dinner with a friend. Now I so understand the feelings of mothers and housewives: the desperate need to get OUT and be oneself. To return to regular, adult, singleperson life. I think maybe in the past I wasn't a very understanding friend to many people who were trying to find some balance between themselves and their family-life: wanting to go OUT, but also pulled by responsibilities at home.

Now I get it.

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