"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting Real in the Tundra

I've been anxious for kids to get in bed tonight for a few reasons, one of which being that I've had an insatiable need to write this stuff down and if I don't, a fire might come spewing out of me.  I want to remember these days.  I want to remember how real it was, how I was in the trenches, how 80% of the time it was just plain hard and 20% of the time is really felt worth it, but that those 20% moments were worth their weight in gold and that they kept me going day after day.  And I'm gonna ramble, and maybe cry a little while I write.  Or maybe I'll cry a lot because that's what this job does to me.  It's a glorious, priceless, indescribable job that I chose and that I wouldn't trade for anything...but it's a very hard job and I cry for a whole spectrum of reasons.

I took 4th grade social studies and I know we don't REALLY live in the tundra zone, but this winter it's felt like we do.  It's been a long winter; the kind that has my heart beating out of my chest when I think about spring and how out of reach it seems.  It's very cold here, but probably no colder than in years past.  I don't know why this year has been so difficult, but it has.

I cried to my mom today.  She called to get my opinion on something and as I tried to have a conversation with her on the phone, I was interrupted at least seventeen times between the three younger kiddos.  At one point Lauren came in to ask me if I'd help her use her Snoopy Snowcone Machine and I don't know why, but that little request felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders as I realized that I didn't have time.  How many times in a day do the kids ask me for time and attention and I have to shush them or tell them "not now" or "maybe later....I have to get this done." How many times in a day do they hear that?  I know that when I'm a shriveled up old lady I'll look back on my time with these small children and ache and cry because I never gave them enough of my time.

But the thing is, there is only so much of me to go around and there are only so many hours in a day and believe it or not, I DO have to sleep sometimes.  And as I talked to my mom on the phone and tried to fold laundry and empty the dishwasher and change a diaper and give my mom the attention that I wanted to give to HER, here was this precious little one asking me for my time.  MY TIME. MY TIME that I don't have enough of as it is.  I try desperately to divide my time between at least a hundred different avenues and there just isn't enough at the end of the day.  But right there in that moment, I wanted to give her all of my time.  And I cried a little out of frustration.

And so I got off the phone with my mom and we pulled out her Snoopy Snowcone Machine and I put it all together and got the materials out of the fridge, and there was pure elation on her face, and then I realized that a piece to the machine was missing.  A piece so important that the machine won't work without it.  And her elated look turned to disappointment and I searched high and low for the piece only to discover that it wasn't to be found.  And then she said something that made my heart hurt. "That's okay Mommy, thanks for trying.  I love you so much."

Thanks for trying.  I know what she meant- she was talking about my looking for the missing piece.  Or maybe she really meant something else like "Thanks for trying to give 500% of your heart soul to everyone else, even though you come up terribly short and do an unhealthy amount of self-loathing. I love you anyway." Because right then, that's what that little voice in my head said.

And as I was searching high and low for that stupid missing piece, I could almost hear the clock on the wall with it's ticking hands taunting me as they ticked.  More and more time is passing by and I have six baskets of laundry to fold and suitcases to unpack from our weekend trip, and Girl Scout cookies to organize, and dishes to do, and church music to practice, and dinner to start for tonight, and about a million other things needing my attention.  And the sweet old ladies tell me "Oh honey, the housework will be there tomorrow...."

Yup, sure will.  And it will be there the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and before long there's total chaos because when I get even a LITTLE behind, all hell breaks lose and the super ultra mega bitch comes out of me and my family pays the price.  So where is the balance?  

I've been telling the kids "NO" for far too long.  They ask to go out and play, but it's too dang cold.  They ask to go to friends' houses, but we are always running to the next appointment or activity.  They ask to make cookies, but I have the never ending array of housework waiting for me.  This afternoon Lauren asked if we could go to the park and I so desperately wanted to make her happy.  I've been battling strep throat and a nasty cold for days. I started antibiotics for the strep two days ago and have been feeling a little better, but you know how it is when you're getting over a chest or throat infection.  That cold dry air hurts so much!!  Ethan had to leave for diving at 5:30, I had to have dinner done before then, and the big kids would be home from school at 3:45.  Okay, we could have a little bit of park time.  It was colder than a witch's tit out there and I felt horrible, but what the hell.  I spent half an hour getting everything ready so that when the big kids walked in the door, we could turn around and ride bikes to the park. 

It was a disaster.  People don't shovel their driveways and sidewalks and the snow compiles and turns to this thick nasty ice sludge. It's pretty horrible, and Lauren got stuck in it several times.  I don't let the kids ride their bikes on our long street because the people driving on it are freaking maniacs, so the sidewalk it was.  The little boys were in the wagon and Hailey was trying so hard to push her scooter through the stupid sludge sidewalks.  My camera bag was tucked safely in the wagon with the boys because gosh darn it, we were making memories and that's what you do on outings to the park- you take pictures.  Even if it's 26 degrees outside and everyone is crying, you take pictures.  You preserve the sacred memories of everyone being miserable.

The cold air hurts so much on my throat and lungs so I have to wear a mask outside.  It serves as a portable humidifier, but I really look like someone in Asia who is afraid of a SAARS outbreak.  And my sunglasses have been missing for several days so I grabbed Cody's, because the whiteness of the snow and the reflection of the sun will blind you otherwise.  But Cody's got a fat face or a big face or a big head or something, and his sunglasses always fall off my face.  And I was wearing them with my mask on and they kept fogging up.  Boo freakin' hoo.  We finally made it to the "big park" and the boys got out of the wagon and started screaming immediately.  And so I started snapping pictures....because that's what I do.

And I had tried to be an extra good mom and take a bottle of brand new bubbles- because I couldn't help myself and bought all new bubbles at the store today.  It did my heart good to walk through the "spring" section and touch and feel the little seed packets and bags of potting soil and see the frisbees and bubbles out in display.  Sp sitting on the icey park bench I peeled back the seal on the bubbles and split half of them on my already freezing hands.  And then I stuck my finger down in the bottle only to doscover that the blasted bubble wand wasn't there!!!!  And so the boys stood there and cried even more because there were no bubbles.  On the inside I was cussin enough to make a saloir blush, but on the outside I said "LET'S GO!!!"

There was an adorable high school couple sitting at one of the tables under the pavilion sharing a can of Coke and they kept looking at me like I was crazy.  "We'll never be like that..." they stupidly said to each other in thought. 


The big kids were furious that we had to leave and the little boys were just plain mad about life in general.  Devin's snot was frozen to his face.

I feel inadequate 95% of the time.  I feel like whatever I do is crap and that everyone else is doing it so much better than I am.  My kids watch way too much TV and it's not because I'm dinkin' around being lazy- it's because the toilets won't clean themselves and dinner has to be made.  I yell a lot.  And I think that things such as Pinterest is the demise of our society....at least it does a fantastic job of deflating hardworking tired moms like me.  I know I know that it's near blasphemy to speak ill of Pinterest or other sources like it, but what are they for?  People did just fine before things like that came about.  Families were fed, birthday parties were simple yet memorable, pantries were organized but not stylish (seriously...it's a pantry).  I could go on for days about how much ai HATE and DESPISE the blogging workd for this very reason. 

I know it's ionic that I am writing this in a blog, but I hate that direction that simple documentation of family took a few years back.  I started a blog when I was pregnant with Lauren because I found it was a good way to archive the comings and goings of our family.  But then I fell into the trap of feeling the need to keep up with the Joneses through bloggin...because people were reading it.  And so I started bullshitting more.  And not in big ways, and it's not that I lied, but I wasn't as raw or hinest as I should have been.  I started using verbage that all the cutsie good moms used and started writing less about how real life was.  And then I branched off and started one of those craft blogs because everyone was doing it.  And yeah I still keep it up from time to time and maybe I should delete it all together because I feel like a major hypocrite for having one of those blogs when I HATE them so much.

Why do people feel the need to bullshit their way through cyberspace?  There's one crafty blog inparticular that makes me want to barf.  I won't link it because that's rude, but let's just say  "Pa-lease".  Your life isn't that perfect and the fact that you feel the need to PROJECT it as being so is sad to me.  I don't think I'd want to be your friend in real life because I don't know if you'd ever be real.  Maybe that's totally unfair to judge, but it's how I feel.  And it's not just one blog, it's at least four or five that do this to me.  I go for a while without following them and then someone posts a link to something on Facebook and I go running back to check it out, like it's a train wreck and I can't help but rubberneck.  Or maybe that's what a porn addiction feels like.  I know it's going to make me feel bad, but right then and there I can't help but take a peek!

And speaking of Facebook, I think it should be called "Fakebook".  Just saying.  It's easy to give the illusion of perfection or bliss at all times when it's cyberspace.  But get real.  I know I'm plenty guilty of this and right now as I write this, it makes my stomach turn thinking of the number of people I have turned off with my so-called perfection.  And I get it.  Life is messy and hard and downright depressing at times and it's nice to have a safe place where problems are far off and people want to hear only the good stuff so you want to have good stuff to say.  "Today my daughter pooped roses."  Seriously, tell me about the kid who threw spaghetti all over the wall and then accidentally stabbed himself with a fork.

It's 10:06 and kids are in bed and Cody is waiting for me to come to bed.  And I will in a minute, but before I wrap this up I need to remember a 20% moment when Garrett was fresh from the bath tonight and he was wrapped in a towel and I held him in my arms, rocking him back and forth and he locked eyes with me.  I just starred at him and wanted right then to memorize every detail of his face...that little face that I remember so clearly seeing for the first time at 3:48 on a blizzardy cold morning in April- that very same face that would be two years old in just a few short weeks.  How I love that boy and how happy I am to be his mama.  I know it's not always fun or easy and sometimes doesn't feel worth it- but I do love this job.  They say that the most priceless prizes are often times the hardest to attain.  Motherhood is like that.



Anna said...

(((HUGS))) You are an awesome mom for trying. You are allowed to take time for yourself (does wonders, I promise). Simplify.

Jeanne said...

Brilliant. Thank you for sharing! I love the way this isn't sugar-coated, and you are real in this post!

PS, I love the swears. And the "witch's tit" phrase Sounds odd, I know. But I like knowing I'm not the only Mormon who says and thinks those things.