June 1, 2011

Maximizing and Mellowing

SI and DD with a beach ball Memorial Day weekend
I didn't have big plans for my vacation.  I had small, reasonable plans.  The sort of plans I thought I could absolutely keep.

I was going to get my plants out of their pots and into the soil.
I was going to TRY to clean my house.
I was going to start potty training again.
I was going to finish the half-dozen sewing projects- mostly baby gifts and birthday presents- I had waiting for me.
I was going to cook dinner.  Every night I was home.

Oh, how those plans went awry.

The weather completely foiled me.  If I had put my tomatoes in the ground, they would have died.
Cleaning my house is impossible.  I should have remembered.
Potty training requires time, and my clever plan to just let the girls run pantsless was, like my gardening hopes, dashed by the inclement weather.
My sewing machine didn't technically explode, but let's just say it's still in the shop.
SI got this eye infection that might or might not have been symptomatic of an awful bug that I caught, and then DD caught, and then M caught, and then Grandma caught, and then Grandpa caught...
I did not cook dinner every night.  I am the only person to blame for that particular failing.  Well, me and the bug.

And now this is my last week of vacation.  Five goals for my month off.  Five goals completely unmet, thus far.  But it's not too late.  I have five days left.

Today, cleaning the house.  Today I will clean and clean and clean until my elbows are completely encased in their proverbial grease.  Then I will hang out with Great-Grandmommy and Great-Granddaddy (my grandparents haven't seen the girls since their birthday!), and make dinner.

M and the girls playing with the beach ball
Tomorrow, thanks to the sudden and dramatic turn of weather towards pleasant and garden-loving, I will put my freakin' tomatoes into the freakin' soil.  And the girls will run in little circles around the back yard.  And it will be lovely.  And then I will make dinner.

On Friday, hopefully, the machine will be back from the shop.  And I will turn all of the cut out pattern pieces co-mingling on my sewing table into stuffed animals and tummy time mats.  And then I will make dinner.

On Saturday, I will tend my garden, re-clean my house (no doubt all the mopping I do today will be thoroughly un-done by then), and put finished baby gifts into the mail.  And then I will not make dinner, because I'm going to a wedding shower instead.

On Sunday I will do the routine mending that's been piling up- a patch here, a hem there, that sort of thing.  And I'll enjoy hanging out with my whole family.  And then I'll make dinner.

And then Monday morning, I'll go back to school.  And my home will quickly return to its current disastrousness, and the mending will pile up, and the weeds will threaten my peppers.

Instead of a leisurely month of sewing, gardening, cooking, and cleaning (believe it or not, ALL activities that I enjoy), I had a hectic month of storms, illnesses (M is STILL sick), and Ikea (that'll trash a house).  I'm following this with a short week of chaotically squeezing my "recreation" into minimal hours so as to make them as much like work as possible.

The fact of the matter is that my life just plain doesn't revolve around me anymore.  I'm not sure it ever really did, but I definitely got that impression.  It seemed to me that my life was a matter of my wants and needs.  I had long accepted that nobody else's life revolved around me, but I thought mine did.
DD is very cool

And it doesn't.  My life revolves around three other people.  I'm afraid the cat hardly factors into the equation.

My life is a series of events that are directed at the management and care of my children and husband.  I'm sorry, dear friends, this is why I almost never see you.

I don't often do what *I* want to do.  I'm much more likely to be folding diapers or mopping green eggs off the floor than I am to respond to your Facebook pokes.  (Seriously, Rachel!  Who even still does that?)

I've been saying since last summer that I get it- that I don't ever get to have another vacation.  Because no matter how far away from my kids I am (and I'm not particularly interested in being that far away from them) I'm still on the job.  I'm still on call.  And even if nobody calls me and everything is fine, I'm going to be worrying.  Because I can't leave Mommyhood at home and just be a 20-something wacko singing Dover at a Rock Band party.  I'm a karaoke-ing weirdo with a cell phone on vibrate and in close enough contact with my skin so that the moment it buzzes I can stop mid lyric and check to make sure that my offspring haven't swallowed dishwasher detergent.

Simple things that I associate with mothers- a clean house, a garden, finished projects, a family dinner every night- I'm beginning to discover that this isn't something that just happens.  You have to get to the point where it's possible.  And toddlers aren't exactly helpful.  Right now the only reason that I have the moment to blog is that my girls think Sesame Street is pretty much the best thing in the world.  Next to me reading them that Noah's Ark book ad infinitum.
SI is very cool

You need time to build to that kind of routine.  It doesn't just fall out of the sky.  I can't expect my kids to suddenly act like reasonable people just because they're essentially verbal and mobile.  If anything, that just makes it harder.

In another three years, I imagine I'll be able to do those things so much more easily.  I'll be able to say, "SI, would you like to help me tear up this lettuce for the salad?"  Or, "DD, would you like to help mommy cut out the fabric?"

I'll be able to ask them to play nicely for an hour while mommy works.  I'm not saying they'll do it, but there's a decent chance.

Right now, asking them to go play somewhere else throws them into a panic.  The sort of panic that I'm going to leave the house without them- horror of horrors!  Right now, I can't count on a solid hour of time to do absolutely anything.

And somehow, I still keep forgetting that.

I know I said this last year, but NEXT summer things will be easier.  And it might just be.  But then again, it might not.  There might be all sorts of other obstacles to my domestic success that I hadn't considered.

DD and SI in dresses Aunt Genocide brought from Mazatlan
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Well, that's how I feel about my attempts to achieve perfect domesticity.  It's just terribly unlikely.  but at the same time, it's NEVER the same thing.  Every day my children are different, changed.  It's a hard thing to explain, but every week or so I'll look at them and think to myself, "Who the hell are YOU?  And what did you do with the baby that was here last week?"

I wonder if my parents think that when they look at me.

M and I are definitely planning on more kids.  Right now we're in agreement on two more- one more biological and one more adopted.  And I know that each new child is going to come close to resetting the progress I've made to being, as I silently refer to it, on top of things.  I need to take a good long look at my life, at my parents lives, and just accept that I'm never going to be on top of things.  Things are just going to keep rolling me under, taking over.

Things are in charge.  I'm just running damage control.

I can't control what happens to our family.  I can't control whether M's tumors start to grow again, or whether we'll have more children or it will turn out that we can't, whether our educations will end as we've planned, whether we'll be able to get better jobs, whether we'll need to move or we'll be able to stay in the lovely home we've made.  I can't control when my kids will bring home nasty bugs that will spread to our nearest and dearest in turn, or swings in the economy that turn our worlds upside down.

I am just plain not in control of anything.

SI and DD moments ago
Except for my broom, and my mop, and hopefully by the end of the week, my sewing machine.  I can set these little goals.

I can control what food I feed my family, even if it is takeout once a week.  I can control a tiny plot of land behind my building and fill it with vegetation I can eat.

I can even control my children, to a certain extent.  Right now they're sitting on the floor beside my desk, eating Cheerios.  They've completely forgotten about Sesame Street.

I just need to stop being so hard on myself for utterly failing at them.


  1. You have just said (very brilliantly I might add) what I have been thinking lately. My daughter is 21 months now and constantly keeps me going (and I only have one daughter, I know you never stop). I keep trying to get something done for myself, but I keep getting interrupted by a daughter, a husband, a dog, a cat, the dishes calling my name and the vacuum that can breath too easily from it's lack of use. We are not failures because we can't do everything. And sometimes our priorities shift from day to day. Somehow I manage to get it all done, I know you do too. Loving family, I believe, is the most important part and in that aspect I think we are doing just fine.

    Great post! If you catch a minute, check me out: http://talesfromamother.blogspot.com/

  2. oh my gosh, two to potty train!! My heart is with you. I hope you get your tomatoes in the ground and I'd say forget about your house until they are potty trained!

  3. Thanks so much for participating in Follow Me Wednesday! I love finding other Moms of Multiples! I totally understand where you are coming from. My boys are 27 months old and they are now at the stage where all I hear is mama, mama, mama all day. They are totally attached to me now. I've been thinking of potty training them, but it seems a little overwhelming to me right now. I keep on saying, I'll potty train them after this or after that. I think I'll just have to bite the bullet and do it. I'm so excited to read more of your posts about the twins. And now that I have written a novel on your comments, thanks again!

  4. I don't know which is harder to deal with/accept. The fact that you have no control. That your life is never about you anymore. Or that there is no such thing as vacation once you are a mom. I know I have struggled with all these things. I could totally relate to this post!

  5. I totally enjoyed this post! We often see friends during the week, and my 4-year old often misses them on the weekend. I have a 12-month old who adores his big sister. A few Sundays ago, though, my daughter said, "Mommy, I really want to play with someone who doesn't eat the toys." lol...translate: Mommy I really want to play with you!

    Carla @ Jansen Family Adventures

  6. When I was pregnant with my first child, an older colleague of mine told me, "You are about to wonder what on Earth could have been so important before!" The havoc parenthood plays on your priorities is unimaginable B.C. (Before Children).



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