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Friday, May 22, 2009

Too...much...pressure...

***Note - I'd like to thank my sister Annie for making this post possible. Without her there to cut an paste, it would have remained in my email forever. To show my appreciation, I'm letting her choose the title, AND giving my permission for her to give herself a little link - because we all know she'd do it anyway. Thanks Annie.

Role reversals - aren't they fun? Is it bad that I've kind of enjoyed watching my husband be mom for the last four weeks? I can't really count those first two weeks, because back then (in my innocence) I was still coming home and picking up any and all slack, i.e., laundry, dinner, dishes, general cleaning, etc.

Then I got sick.

It was a Monday morning, and I felt awful. We're talking lay-in-bed-actually-sleeping-because-you-feel-too-rotten-to-do-anything-else. Just think of it - I stayed in bed until ONE O'CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON.

!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously. When is the last time you got to do that? (And if this is what always happens to you when you get sick because your husband is some kind of award-winning saint, we don't want to hear about it. Maybe later, but not right now. This is MY moment to shine!) As I lay there watching him take care of everything - and enjoying making comments like, "what are you fixing for dinner?" and "will you please go help L with his math now?" - I got to thinking.

How will he ever understand what it's like to be me if I keep being me? How can he appreciate what I'm doing if he doesn't ever do it? How can he know what it's like to work all day and then come home to a house full of people who strip out of their clothes as they walk through the door, leave a trail everywhere they go, and expect ME to pick it all up, AND make dinner, AND clean up after dinner, if I keep doing all of it as soon as I walk through the door? So I stopped. Tuesday came, I went to work, I came home from work, and I pretty much just hung around reading my book.

Now, in my husband's defense I have to say that he does pitch in around the house. He definitely has his stuff that he does - like mowing the lawn and home improvements/repairs (which are kind of constant at our house) - and he has assigned nightly tasks such as C and M's story, teeth brushing, bedtime, etc. He's also known to randomly do things like clean and organize my laundry room, or tackle the family room, and when he takes on the bathroom it's with boiling water and a toothbrush. (He was a Marine, remember?)

However. On a nightly basis, he generally remains completely unaware of what's going on around him as far as household maintenance goes. He'll play with the kids and let them sneak upstairs to watch movies with him (we have no TV, and movie watching is strictly for Friday-Sunday after school during the school year), but I have to say it rarely occurs to him to pick up toys, run a vacuum, help in the kitchen, or do anything related to laundry during the week.

Times are a changin'.

That first week of me doing nothing was a real eye opener. Even his usual daytime routine (which he does pretty well at during the day when he's home with the kids) suffered, due to several days of errand running. By Friday things were looking pretty bad, and I was still coming home saying obnoxious things like "Hey, what's for dinner?" It might sound heartless, but it was worth it. And kind of fun. As far as the husband goes, let's just say he noticed the difference between "helpful wife" and "oblivious, book-reading wife".

I must admit, however, that after that first week or so I put down the book and started picking up some of the slack. But overall, I think it's been a successful experiment. A few highlights:

I love how when he's the one keeping things clean, NO ONE is allowed to make a mess, and the kitchen is closed when he's done with it. Every time he says, "I JUST cleaned in here, what happened?!?" I get a thrill.

I love that he makes dinner. I never knew roast could get mushy, and I've never seen noodles boiled that long, but every time I sit down to a dad-meal it makes me smile. He can never say he doesn't know how to cook again. (And it's cute when he calls me all concerned, and says things like, "Was I supposed to turn the oven to 250? Oops, I turned it to 350. Is that okay?")

I'm amazed at how he can still block out jobs like the bathroom and laundry.

I love how every time I send him grocery shopping it's like Russian roulette. Let's just say we have some serious communication problems, and he is apparently completely unable to ask store personnel for assistance. (But Walmart really did stop selling my hair product, so he actually wasn't blind that time - I just haven't told him yet). (Do you think I have to?)

Overall, I think I just love him - employed or not.

Monday, May 18, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I am at my mom's, my kids are in the car waiting for me, and I have about five minutes to spare on this computer. I thought I'd read a couple of blogs. I had no idea I'd been gone so long. Seriously, like every single person on my sidebar has posted AT LEAST once during the last week, and I've missed all of it. There are about zero comments from me out there in blogland, and I feel totally out of the loop.

This stinks.

And it doesn't even take into account the posts I wanted to write this week - all of which have completely escaped my brain. My original plan was to get up here sometime over the weekend and write a couple of posts I could schedule for this week - but life kind of got in the way.

That said, I just want everyone to know how much I appreciate those of you still taking the time to read my blog (AND COMMENT!!) while I totally neglect you in return. I just have to say that my life is a bit stressed right now (week six of husband's unemployment) and every comment I got this last week really put a smile on my face. I'd been thinking about dropping my blog (since who knows when I'll be able to get another computer), but there is no doubt that being able to reach out and share things with all of you truly makes things better.

So really, this post isn't a post at all - it's just a big THANK YOU!! To all of you who care. Seriously. You may never know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Three Year Old - Proving the Existence of God One Tantrum at a Time

I so don't have time to do this right now, but here I am blogging. My old computer that was briefly resurrected after the loss of my regular one crashed last week (hence the lack of posts), so I am once again computer-less, and at the mercy of using other people's computers.

In other news, this past weekend Little Miss Two officially became Little Miss Three. But between you and me, this actually started happening some time ago. You know the whole now-that-the-child-is-three-and-talks-in-complete-sentences-this-should-all-get-so-much-less-frustrating feelings you have as your child nears three? I hate those. They are COMPLETELY false, and in reality this is NOT what happens. At all.

Instead, it gets worse. You think they'll become more reasonable, when in all actuality they're the definition of "unreasonable". They have opinions. They have preferences. You get major meltdowns over what color cup they want, which stool they sit on, which one of you is going to get them dressed, etc. Oh what I'd give for the days before color-knowledge and independence.

Miss Three has a particularly bad case of independencitis - aka, an irritation caused from three year olds who think they can and should do everything themselves, when in fact, life would be much easier if they just let you be the parent. Seriously. Do you have any idea how long it takes her to put on her shoes/climb into the car AND her car seat/get her pj's off and her clothes on? I'll bet that in the last few months I've spent hours of my life watching her accomplish these tasks.

And then there's the other category: The things you wish they would do for themselves, but insist you do for them.

Doll dressing falls into this category. Miss Three has an insatiable urge to strip and re-dress her dolls over, and over, and over again. Only she can't get the clothes back on, so I have to do it. Over, and over, and over again.

Thankfully, three year olds are also living, walking, and whining proof that the Lord does, in fact, know exactly what he's doing. Why else would he make them the cutest things on the face of the earth? Seriously, they are so cute. And they say the most hilarious things. And they do the most hilarious things. And they can be so incredibly loving as they wrap their cute little arms around your neck and tell you how much they "wuv you".

Clearly the Lord was well aware of just how maddening and exasperating the human three year old would be. Knowing the feelings a single tantrum would cause, he blessed them with fat cheeks, dimpled elbows, and complete adorableness, just to ensure their survival. Somehow, even when they're at their absolute worst three year olds manage to be cute.

And it's a good thing, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Rummage Sale Blues

This week was my kids' school's annual rummage sale. In case I've failed to mention it, my boys attend a little three room school house, and there are only about seventy kids in their K-6th school. It's a close little family, to say the least.

As usual, my boys (L ten, and N eight) have been drooling over the treasures to be "rummaged" since the sale opened on Tuesday, and by Thursday night they were dying to make their purchases. This year, I decided that rather than go with them, I'd let them take five dollars of their own money to spend however they wanted.

Friday morning as we're getting ready to walk out the door, we have the following conversation:

Me: N, how much money do you have in your wallet?

N (without hesitation): Five dollars.

M: L, how much do you have?

L: Uh, fifteen.

(Keep in mind N is sitting right there, listening to all of this)

Me: I don't think so, I said you could take five.

I then sent him to put ten back in his cash box, and (again, with Niall right there watching) counted what was left in his wallet to make sure he'd put enough back. All the way to school they talked about the things they had their eye on, and how they hoped no one else would get there first.

At this little school of ours, most kids get picked up by parents rather than riding the bus. So every day after school, I pull through the drive and sit there while the teachers or aides find, collect, and deliver my children to my car. I've had children in this school for five years now, and we all know each other very well.

Imagine my surprise on Friday, when as I pull around the drive I see all the aides start snickering, and trying not to smile as they see me pull in. Confused, I quickly review: Am I at the wrong School? No. Is today one of the days I'm not supposed to pick them up till 4:00? No. Do I have food on my face? No. So I park, and wait as Mrs. W approaches my window while Mrs. P gathers my kids. Mrs. W and I have the following conversation:

Mrs. W: Well you might as well pull back around to the front door, because you've got some loading to do. (quickly hides laughter by coughing into her hand)

Me: Loading?

Mrs. W: Oh yes, your kids made quite a haul at the rummage sale today. Most of it's still inside.

She added this last as I looked over to see L carrying a small end table to the car.

Me (Looking rather confused, and slightly concerned): How much did they spend?

Mrs. W: I have no idea, but N sure got a lot of stuff. Unfortunately none of us were out there while he was, uh, shopping, and the parents running the sale just let him keep buying.

At this point I, got out of my car and headed for the school as I informed her that the boys each had a limit of five dollars.

Mrs. W: Oh I'd say N spent quite a bit more than five.

I walked into the second grade class to see N - who's satisfied smile froze on his face as he saw me - standing amidst the following items: An exercise bike, an old manual typewriter, a standing lamp, a coat tree, a talking fish, a desk lamp, a world atlas, and various other small items.

It turns out he brought $32.00 - i.e., every bill in his possession. He'd spent $24.00 on his treasures, and (as tears filled his adorable and pathetic eyes) he tried to tell me he didn't know he was only supposed to bring $5.00.

Unfortunately (as illustrated by the above conversation from earlier that morning) we all know this to be a falsehood. A lie. A complete, and unquestionable untruth. I hate being a mother in these situations.

With a sigh and a grimace, and feelings of great regret, I informed him that because he had lied about how much money he had, he wasn't going to be able to keep any of it. Every last item - including the beloved typewriter AND the antiquated exercise bike - had to go back out to the sale.

And we hauled it all back.

And I felt horrible.

And he was very good about it, and even went back in and collected his funds all by himself.

This was seriously one of the hardest things I've ever had to do to to one of my kids. Did I mention how excited they were about this sale? Or how much my son wanted that typewriter? (His best friend quickly offered to buy it off him when he found out it was going back. Apparently it was a pretty hot item as none of them had ever seen one before). But I honestly couldn't think of anything else to do. Even letting him keep five dollars worth of goods didn't seem right. (Which is a blessing in disguise, since the price of the typewriter was exactly five dollars).

And now today, I have to reflect on this whole thing as it pertains to Mother's Day. Being a mom is not easy. Most of what we do (laundry, dishes, potty training, etc.) is not fun. Possibly the most unpleasant task of all however, is discipline and the stress of having the lives of these dear little people we love in our hands. I've often told my children (as I send them to their room, or take away their treasured possessions/privileges) that my most important task as their mother is to teach them right from wrong, and make sure they know that when they make bad choices, bad things happen.

What a rotten job. But when you think about it, it's a concept that will literally shape the rest of their lives. Integrity, accountability, and a love of the Savior and knowledge of his love for them are some of the most valuable gifts I could ever give my children. And if we all have to suffer a little heartbreak so they can learn these lessons, I have no doubt that it will be more than worth the pain. So, I'm sorry kids, for occasionally ruining your lives (I'm sure it will be an ongoing occurrence), but in the end if it means you're better, stronger, kinder, or more like your Savior, I have no doubt it will have been worth it to all of us.

And don't worry N, someday you'll get over the typewriter. I promise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

In Which I Almost Craft, and Other Stories

I had a crazy, crazy weekend. It was so crazy, I was actually thrilled for Monday. Is that pathetic or what? And the worst part about a crazy weekend (for our purposes the "weekend" started on Thursday when I got called to work - I know it makes no sense - work with me here) is the state of the house by seven o'clock Sunday night.

Can I say seven million loads of laundry?

Seriously. Between Thursday morning and Sunday afternoon, I spent approximately nine hours and three minutes at my house. The three minutes were on Friday after work when I SPRINTED in to collect piano books before dashing off to my kids lessons. I didn't cross my threshold again until 2:30 AM Saturday morning. Why, you ask? Because I was decorating for a wedding/wedding reception. And when I say "decorating" I mean that in the broadest sense of the word.

As in I personally arranged all the flowers for the wedding because as of TEN O'CLOCK THE NIGHT BEFORE NO ONE ELSE HAD DONE IT.

I still can't decide which part of the above sentence is more shocking - that the flowers still needed arranging (for fourteen centerpieces and twelve church pews), or that I did the arranging.

As in me. Yours truly. Who hates and detests all things craft. (Although, I still say flower arranging isn't really a craft...)

In my defense, however, it had to be done. And as all my piano students know, when the impossible needs to be done what do you ask yourself? "If I were stranded on an island and the only way off was to figure this out, could I do it, and how long would it take me?" (Have I mentioned how much my piano students love it when I ask them this question?)

So I did it. One more successful island escape proving the impossible can be accomplished with the right degree of desperation. And just in case curious minds want to know, my flowers rocked. Even my mother was impressed, and she's a Terry. (The significance being that the Terry women {of which I am technically one of, since my grandmother was, in fact, a Terry} have a knack with flowers. Legend has it that all they need to do is touch a bouquet and it becomes pleasing to the eye, and fascinating to behold. For obvious reasons I have never claimed this gene. But I'm claiming now).

Anyway, it was a long night. And can I just say that while marriage may be of the Lord, weddings are (without question) of the Devil? Seriously. Can we say irritating-tradition-designed-to-distract-the-bride-from-what's-really-important-and-cause-serious-depression-stress-anxiety-and-unChristlike-feelings-moments-before-walking-down-the-isle? As a successful elopee, I would just like to say that no one should have to worry about refreshment/flowers/tuxes/etc. while pledging themselves to another, and entering a solemn covenant - whether it be the till-death-do-you-part or time-and-all-eternity variety. I'm all for the grand reception - just not hours after the grand commitment. One tends to overshadow the other, if you know what I mean.

(Disclaimer: Note the use of the word "tends". I am not claiming that it is impossible to achieve a peaceful and perfect wedding/reception. I'm just saying it's pretty rare. Please do not be offended if you're combo deal was the greatest no-regrets thing you ever did, and believe me when I say I'm happy for you. Meanwhile, I will begin indoctrinating Miss Two with the concept of reception-two-weeks-later.)

But they were married AND are happy - despite some rather stressed out moments - and all's well that ends well. And I got six loads of laundry done today - despite being gone for five hours - so I believe I can now face tomorrow and all the other thankless tasks left to be done around here.

Housework stinks. Can I get an Amen???