Monthly Archives: October 2015


Remember how I forgot crazy sock day a few days ago? Well we’re celebrating now.

 Sad, sad little empty sock bin. 

Despite the fact that I’m caught up on laundry, there are no clean, matched socks for the boys. They had twenty pairs not that long ago, but none now. Are they shoving them down the vents? Leaving them at school? EATING them? Everyone in the house claims total ignorance.

I did find four single socks in the mismatch bin, which is a mercy, because I didn’t have to spin some tale about the Emperor’s New Socks for them to tell their teachers when they were discovered  breaking the school rules on footwear.

I have said this before, but possibly my favorite thing about summer is the utter lack of sock requirement.

And now I need to go to the store.

Because socks.

Come Back Okay

I did something about a year ago, and I didn’t talk about it much at the time. I had my reasons for keeping mum, but given a few conversations I’ve had lately, I decided to talk about it now.

Last year, at the end of the summer, I was a mess. My temper was on a hair trigger, I had what Paul calls “the crazy eyes” for a startling percentage of the day, and I was liable to burst into tears if, say, I tried to get a piece of tape from the roll and it tore, because that is a serious tragedy, yes? MESS.

A lot of what I had going came from grief. My mom died last June, Paul’s dad died last September. When there’s a death in the family, it can ripple out in odd and unexpected ways. Elias was having a pretty hard time with both losses and making a run to unseat me as Chief Family Lunatic. It was a lovely time.

At some point I went to Paul and said (this is an approximation), “I feel bad for asking this. But I am so tired I don’t know what to do with myself. I am so bone-deep sad that I’m afraid I’ll never really feel happy again. I feel like I have been a daughter and a mom and a wife and an employee and a volunteer and I don’t even know what else and there is a piece of me at my core that is just me and it is withering and dying. I am going crazy, and I need to go away. Alone. Just for a little while.”

And he said, “GO. Soon. Now, even.”

It wasn’t quite that fast. But I booked a room at a B&B on one of the Lake Erie islands for a weekend and when that Friday came, I took my bike and a couple of bags and I got on the ferry.

Mostly when you take a trip, people ask you if you had a good time. I’m not sure I can say that I did. I barely spoke to anyone for three days and two nights. I rode my bike around the island. I read an entire book, an actual print one with pages and ink. I listened to music. I prayed. I sat out on the porch and looked at the water. A couple of times, I stretched out across the bed and cried until I was done, which was, in fact, quite a relief. And I woke to this out my bedroom window for two sunrises.

I didn’t have a good time, exactly, but I had a peaceful time. I didn’t come back happy. But I came back better. I came back okay.

So why am I telling you this mundane story about the time when I didn’t (quite) have a nervous breakdown?

Because I was having A Thing again the other day and I posted about it on Facebook. And there were lots of comments, but there were also a fair amount of private messages. I was, as predicted, not the only passenger on the struggle bus. And a lot of us are schlepping a lot of baggage on the bus that’s labeled GUILT.

You know why I didn’t talk about my little trip when I did it? A little bit because I have a tortured history with vacations and getaways and I was afraid to jinx it. (There’s usually vomiting involved. I’m starting to get really superstitious and weird about it.) And some because I don’t like revealing how much of a mess I am, and how much of the time. I mean, sure, the funny stuff, but not the really scary messy stuff. BUT MOSTLY because I felt guilty about it. I felt guilty that I really, desperately needed some alone time, and that I was going to spend money getting it, and that I was going to leave my family on their own to do it. Because I shouldn’t need that to remain sane. Because I shouldn’t be so selfish. Because other people manage just fine without it. Because somewhere there is someone who has it worse so buck up, camper.

Sitting here at my kitchen table, not in crisis, I can tell you that is crap. Of course not every other person needs to go away by themselves for a weekend. I may never need to do that exact thing again. I may. I don’t know. But if I do need to, I hope I don’t guilt myself out of it for stupid reasons. And so everything I say from here on out is at least as much for the future me as it is for anyone else.

It is okay to take care of yourself. It is okay to figure out what you really, really need in your crisis, and ask someone to help you make it happen. It is okay to affix your own oxygen mask first.

Do it. If you need to go cry until you are done, without worrying about upsetting your children or your mom or whoever, go find a place to cry. If you need to train for a marathon so you can outrun your demons, figure out how to get in your training time. If you need to disappear to an island for a weekend, go. Your house will not fall down. Your family will survive. They don’t need you to be there for their every breath.

They just need you to come back okay.

Cleaning House

Elias, who is currently attempting to break my spirit by refusing to eat anything I place before him, struggled down some green beans and about five bites of potato beef hash (it’s potatoes and ground beef and cheese; I swear I didn’t try to sneak in any broccoli or, God forbid, kale) in order to be allowed the treat in the bowl you see below.

It’s the leftover juice after all the green beans were gone. Seriously. I don’t even know if he liked it. I think it was just the only thing he could think of to have a fit about.

I remember a point at which I wasn’t sure both Levi and I were going to survive his childhood. I think I might be there with Elias. Deep breaths. Lots and lots of deep breaths. And, I don’t know, maybe some light sedation.

In other news, I let the house get away from me more than usual this week. For most of the week, I had a script running in my head about how irredeemably lazy I am and how I can’t ever seem to pull it together. This morning I woke up raring to go and realized that I actually haven’t been feeling that great, and I probably needed the extra rest. So it was a temporary situation and not a permanent character flaw. This is not the first time the very same thing has happened, but I seem to be able to grant myself a little grace only in hindsight. I possibly need to work on that.

Anyway, since I was so spunky today, I went after everything with a vengeance. I bagged up some stuff to drop off at the thrift shop. The laundry room doesn’t even know what hit it, there is not a dirty dish in the house, and I even moved the couch to vacuum. (“Mom, are we having company?!?”)

I was finishing up the supper dishes as we entered the Bedtime Vortex, and it suddenly hit me. The only person in this house who cares about any of this, with the possible exception of clean underpants, is me.

Paul does not care whether the floor has been swept. In fact, I’m not sure he can tell one way or the other. The boys mostly don’t care about anything except which one can punch harder.

Then this popped up on my Facebook feed.

I don’t even know who this woman is, but I think she’s got a point. I’m not saying a clean house is a bad thing, but my housekeeping skills are probably not the most important thing about me. In fact, I very much hope not. I’m also not saying that I want to let the house descend into squalor. But I think I might try to relax a little and not worry about it quite so much. Because who am I trying to impress, exactly? Not anyone who lives here. And those are the people I should be most worried about.

This will probably have little to no effect on how much housework gets done, but it might mean I stop beating myself up so much about the housework that doesn’t get done. Isn’t it pretty to think so?