The mess, the whole mess, and nothing but the mess

I am many things, but naturally neat and tidy I am not. My habitat quickly matches the chaos of my constantly addled mind. Papers, pens, shoes, discarded children’s socks, toys, and my sunglasses seem to creep like ivy and move around of their own volition until my house looks like a windstorm swept through it. Keeping the main thoroughfares free of tripping hazards, and the actual cooking surfaces free of fire hazards, is generally enough of a steep uphill battle for me. With selective tunnel vision, the disorder of my house almost doesn’t bother me. Almost.

Like the burst of motivation from a New Year’s resolution fad dieter, I occasionally become tyrannically devoted to cleaning. I whip the house into shape, and if your beloved objects end up in the bin or donated, well it’s your fault for not taking better care of them in the first place. Then, like the fad dieter, I return to my bad habits and my mess grows ever fatter. Sometimes, like the poor resolutioner might do at the gym, I overdo it in my zeal for cleanliness and order. Instead of sore muscles keeping me from exercising again, I develop a relentless apathy towards the growing mess.

About six weeks ago Luke had a birthday party at home. Ahead of the party I cleaned the house so well that my husband accused me of hiring a cleaning service on the sly. It was a terrible mistake though, because I have not lifted a finger since.* If you’re wondering what a house looks like after six weeks without intervention, the answer is NOT GOOD.

Our walking paths are not clear of tripping hazards. In fact, this gigantic bear has been lying in the center of the living room for weeks, directly in the pathways between my desk and the kitchen, and the couch and the kitchen.

In the way

My husband is a good and patient man. If one of us cared more, our house would be tidier, but alas, neither of us care more than we don’t feel like fixing it. He has tactfully refrained from mentioning the state of our home.

At the same time our house waves the white flag to entropy, we have experienced a minor miracle. The Dollar Store helium balloons we bought six weeks ago are still aloft. They had enough helium for maybe six days, but to last six weeks? I’m tempted to bust out the menorah. Now stringless, they litter our ceilings and we are forced to wait for the helium to slowly leak from the surprisingly impermeable balloons.

Miracle

The balloons have been there so long I no longer really see them. They’re just part of the house like the lights and fans. Yesterday, however, Tim brilliantly summed up the current state of our house: “I’m so happy that we figured out a way to also have trash on our ceilings.”

So, there you have it, folks. I’m the mom who makes you feel better about your messy house. The things I do for you.

*Confession: I have cleaned toilets and sinks.

I did, and would do it again

Originally posted 3/21/2014

I’ve been thinking about weddings and marriage a lot lately, in part because tomorrow is my eleventh anniversary! It’s hard to believe that eleven years have passed since that day in that lovely dress when I enacted what is easily the best decision I ever made.

Is marriage everything I thought it would be? No. It’s almost nothing I thought it would be.

I remember planning the event, consumed with all of the wedding details. They felt so very important. Whenever I approached Tim stressed over choices of things like tablecloths, he said, “The wedding is just one day. The marriage is forever.” Naturally, this pissed me off. “You aren’t helping! I know that the marriage is important and blah blah blah, but do you like the medium-red, the dark-red, or the medium-dark-red roses better?!”

Like many grooms, Tim did not take part in so many of the planning details, and he’s probably quite unaware of how many details our wedding entailed. Does he know that I had to decide on little things like the various sundries for the baskets I placed in the bathrooms? (Does he know there were baskets of sundries in the bathrooms?) Does he know that I picked the chairs? Does he know that I labored over fonts, paper and the type of printing we used? Now when I think of how much money we spent on items like our invitations it makes me a little sick. At the time, setting the tone felt important.

If I could go back, I’d do so many things differently.

But not everything.

I’d still marry Tim. I’d marry him over and over again regardless of what freaking paper we used to invite our guests. I’d marry him with different flowers, the cheaper chairs, and the other tablecloths. I’d even marry him with without the band and the passed hors d’oeuvres. And if I had to, I’d marry him without the fancy dress or open bar. (Thankfully, I don’t have to.)

Our wedding lasted a few (fabulous) hours. Our marriage has been every day since. It’s been great days and stressful days. It’s been sickness (man colds) and health. It’s been joyful moments and moments when everything felt wrong. It’s been a million and one different moments but one thing has never changed: Tim has been by my side and I his.

Our future stretching before us is unknown and uncertain. As much as we like to think we’re in control, we really have little power over what is going to happen to us in the days and years to come. Tragedy or dumb luck can strike at any time. One thing I can control is my half of my marriage. Each day I choose my words and actions, how to be a wife and partner. I don’t always choose wisely. Luckily, Tim chose to marry an imperfect creature so he knew what he was getting into. Imperfections notwithstanding, each day I choose Tim. Again and again.

Eleven years later I can’t remember which tablecloth I ended up with and I couldn’t name my flowers if my life depended on it. I’m certain that my wedding guests can’t remember what they ate or what my invitations looked like. And none of that matters. My husband was right.* The wedding is just one day. The marriage is forever.

*I will neither confirm nor deny if he’s been right about anything else since.

love

 

Trick-or-treat, except no tricks please because my kids are stupid

My kids are still working on becoming funny. At least I hope they’re working on it, and that where they sit right now on the funny spectrum is not where they’ll remain. Funny is important to me. The fact that it’s lost on my children leaves them not getting 62% of what comes out of my mouth. Since the remaining 38% is made up of directives they’re ignoring, we have a major communication problem over here.

When my then 5-year-old son shouted back to me from the door of a stranger’s house on Halloween night, “Mom, she doesn’t have any chocolate, is it OK if I pick something else?” I realized that my kids are too earnest for my tastes.

See, I (jokingly (totally not jokingly)) told my son to make sure he gets lots of chocolate. The for me was implied. He did not pick up on the implication. He took it as a rule or mission of Halloween. He took it as advice from his mother who looks out for him and knows more about Halloween and the world at large than he does.

And nothing I said for the rest of the night could change his mind.

“Honey, I was just joking. Get whatever candy you like,” I said.

“But you said to get as much chocolate as I can. I’ll get chocolate,” he said.

“You are evil. You better blog about this,” husband said.

Every house was the same. My kid shouted back to me, “This one has more than one kind of chocolate, does it matter which I get?” and “This one has chocolate and Skittles. I really like Skittles. Is it OK if I pick the Skittles?” Once he even said to the kind stranger holding the candy bowl, “My mom wants me to get chocolate. Do you have any chocolate, maybe in your pantry?”

He had no idea that I was planning on stealing any candy from him. It would never occur to him that I’d want candy or play such a trick.

I seem to never learn the lesson that my kids don’t pick up on subtlety, irony, sarcasm, and jokes meant for the adults in the room. I made my daughter cry once when she saw me handing out ice cream sandwiches to her brother and to each of the 3 neighbor’s kids and asked “Can I have one too?” I said, “No. I’m giving ice cream sandwiches to all the other children but I’m going to give you onions for dessert.” Even though I assured her I was joking and quickly handed over the ice cream, she cried again a few days later when she asked for dessert and I said, “Onions for dessert!” Kid cannot take a joke.

While other parents anxiously await their children to achieve milestones like tying shoes and learning to read, I’m waiting with baited breath for my kids to grasp sarcasm, trickery, and actually funny jokes.

trick or treat