Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yard Sale

In my neck of the woods, hosting and/or attending a yard sale is a mix of art and contact sports.  Let me explain.

It's 6:00 a.m.  It's that time in the morning when the mist makes everything cold while promising a roasting hot day.  We are laying out my mother's life-or rather her 'stuff' across the driveway and the neighbors lawn for a yard sale. 

The hundreds of gifts she received over the years was artfully displayed on card tables.   Christmas stuff over here.  57+ coffee mugs over there.

Every curtain and piece of linen our family had since before I was born was laid out on tarps or organized in colorfully labelled boxes.

The 20 or so glass boxes for holding the piles of doo-dads from around her house were lined up.  Beside the doo-dads was the mountain of stationary she never opened or used.

Embroidery, crochet, and sewing 'notions' of which I have no notion, were set out.  Some lady bought the white sewing box, not because she sewed, rather she worked at the company that designed and made the boxes in the '60s.

By 6:30 the boys had wrangled the 10 ton furniture into a pseudo display on the corner of the street.  By 6:32 "Crazy Legs" was making an offer on most of the furniture. 

By 6:33 some lady was riffling through the jewelry.  She told me what she was paying for some wooden eggs.  I didn't even look at the price, she was just too scary to contend with.

By 8:00 a.m. we had raked in $132.  Yep.  $132.  Did I mention the sale wasn't supposed to start UNTIL 8:00 a.m.  Oy.

The day was marked by stretches of boredom followed by long minutes of people wheeling and dealing on stuff we didn't want and they didn't really need.  By 2:00 we sold everything at 'half off' the already unbelievably low price of-50 cents.

We packed what was left, about 1/3 of what was laid out, and carted it to Goodwill.  We left with a receipt indicating we had given 6 bags of clothes, 7 pieces of furniture and 14 bags of home goods. 

Two truck loads of stuff, a life of 62 years and all we were left with was a receipt. 

Today, sunburned and exhausted, we are moving slow.  Only the kids are in their normal speed, buzzing around us.  We have a yard sale hangover.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Finish Line

My head is pounding.  I am exhausted.  My husband is a shell of a man from being virtually a single Mr. Mom for the past two weeks.  But wait.  What is this I see?  Can it be?  Is it true?


I completed the big proposal thingy I was working on.  The late nights, the unending research, is over!

Now what?  Time for a little introspection.

There was a time in my life when I operated at this tempo every day.  When every moment of every minute had a purpose.  If I wasn't going here, I was coming from there.  Picking up and dropping off -with work sandwiched in between.  So many of my earlier videos of my first born include shots of an exhausted me, late in the night, still in my work clothes.  My life was squeezed out in droplets like the wringing of a sponge.  How did I ever do it?

I didn't really.  I didn't with any sense of purpose or connection.  I just did.  I just did a lot.

I still do a lot.  A lot less.  Does it mean I am lazier? Some days.  Less focused or productive? Sometimes.  Less good or whole or validated? Never.

There is an aspect to my temperament that is never quite satisfied.  I am always looking for the new challenge.  The new thing.  Perhaps that's one reason why mothering fascinates me.  Everyday and in every way it's a challenge and new.

Once the choleric dissatisfaction formed an alliance with my self image and voted my peace right off the island!  My identity was wrapped up in what I could do and how much of it I did.  I was constantly standing with my back against the wall, straining on tip toes to reach that line of 'achievement' always seemingly out of reach.

Now I have made peace with the dissatisfaction and given it a little condo next to my ambition.  They are in the 'burbs of my identity now.  Instead I am learning how to squeeze sloppy hugs from little sticky fellas in between management capability narratives.  I examine 'hurted' backs and make recommendations on heating pads to six year olds while figuring how to express a national learning institute in 25 pages or less.

I still am striving towards the finish line.  I've just purposed not to run myself into the ground to get there.  I won't crawl over.  I'll walk.  In my own sweet time.  In my own sweet way.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Star Wars Is On

I didn't meet my goal of blogging twice a week.  One probably shouldn't have relaunched one's blog when one is working late into the night on a grant contract.  That being said, by the way, here's what happened this evening.

I'm chugging away doing research on my proposal, finding the last nuggets of information to fill the holes in my narrative.  From the living room I hear, "Mommy! Star Wars is on!"

"Okay buddy."

"Mooooooooommmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyy! Star Wars is ON!"

The door bursts open and my little guy enters.  His hair is still wet from his bath, his little Thomas the train jammies are bunched around his calves.  He walks over and says, "Mom, Star Wars is on!  Come on!"  He grabs my hand and starts tugging.

The project is tugging on me, but this pint sized bundle of cuteness is tugging even harder.  As we walk downstairs, he says,"Mommy, Daddy loves you.  Star Wars is on."  Step, step, step.  "Mommy, Ian loves you.  Come on it's Star Wars!"  As we snuggle into the couch, "Mommy, Caden loves you!  Wook its a wo-bot!"

Caden does love me and wanted me to share the couch and the magic of Star Wars cartoons.  I couldn't tell you what the cartoon was about.  I can tell you how my son felt in my arms as we played the, "I love you game."

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two Quick Weekend Tidbits

Busy weekend.  It began with a morning of unpacking, packing and sorting at Mom's house.  My bff Shel joined me in the fray.  In a random box of the 100th cross stitch kit was a speech I did when I was 15.  It addressed the challenge of being an American citizen.  I won a scholarship from it. 

It was awful.  Truly awful.  The conclusion was a ginormously long run on sentence that never ended and didn't have any real point other than to end the speech which was typed (yikes typed!) on paper turning brown with age.

Finding it reminded me of the journey I am on with my Mom.  I am finding the little treasures amidst the confusing and disorienting clutter of her life.  Emotionally exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

I love to drive the riding lawn mower.  It is so satisfying to cut the grass while chugging along on the red bomber.  However, I am recovering and healing from a cervical muscle strain.  While I believe I am healed and healing, I keep ripping it up again. 

I asked my occupational therapist what I could and couldn't do.  He told me I can't do anything.  Literally, nothing.  I shouldn't pick up my baby or take wet laundry out of the washer.  I shouldn't, shouldn't, shouldn't.  But I did, I mowed the lawn.

I did it like a one armed drunk monkey on a moped, but I did it.  And it looks great.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Working It Out

One thing I knew about mothering, eons before I actually landed in a delivery room, was that I would never be a traditional stay at home mom.  I didn't realize, until post delivery and in the subsequent 6'ish years I've been a mom, how complicated not-traditional can be.

I am working on a great contract/project.  It's in addition to my 32 hour a week job.  It is a professional stretch, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.  It also necessitates me working in the evening, or most commonly known as, kid time.

Tonight my very dramatic 6 1/2 year old slumped into the bedroom where I was hiding.  He melted beside me and said, "You've been working aaaaaalllll night!  When are you going to be done?!?!?!"  The guilt washed over me like dirty dish water.  Though I was to discover he was only disturbing me in the vain hope of sneaking more cartoons, it still had the potential to emotionally gut me like a fish.

A constant emotional tug of war is in every mother's heart.  Whether their work is solely in the four walls or out, they are never 'done'.  Children, especially those delicious creatures who have yet to embrace the rugged independence of adolescence, need time, lots of time.  And there are only so many minutes in every day.

The bald fact is this: I am missing time with my kids to do this 'job'.  The other bald fact?  It's going to add two extra paychecks to our account.  Does one equal the other? Nope.

When my two year old crawled into my lap to say good night, I felt the fillet knife coming out.  However, I also remembered something a pediatrician once told me.  In every family, everyone must make compromises.  Learning how to do this and stay together and emotionally intact is the key. 

As I cuddled with my little squishy and his chattering skinny older brother, I worried I am losing importance in their lives.  I worried they would feel work is more important than they are.  I felt I am missing out on precious moments. 

The reality is I wouldn't hear complaints of how l-o-o-o-o-ng I was working if I wasn't important (even if it's that I am always the one who can find the t.v. remote).  They know work isn't more important than them or they wouldn't run in to hide beneath me and my keyboard.  The precious moments I missed tonight?  Yelling out random windows at the wild cat in the back yard.  I could hear them.   I didn't need to yell with them.

Do I still feel guilty?  Yep.  Am I gutted out by it?  Nope.  Because I have just realized that they, like me, are working it out.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pork Butts and a New Life Please

I stood in the gale force winds, shaking from the forty degree temps holding my prize, or rather prizes.  Two pork butts.  Ginormous hams being auctioned to raise money for my son's school.  And I was holding them.

Every year JCS has an Arts and Crafts Festival and Auction.  It is to raise a small portion of the unrestricted funds the school needs to operate.  My husband and I, dutiful Kindergarten parents we are, signed up to help.  He sat on a warm cooler and passed out poultry for four hours.  I stood in the wind, shaking and was stared at for four hours.

I have never been part of an auction before (save for that time on a business trip when I snuck in to an Auctioneers Association dinner to see if they talked that way all the time....they don't by the way).  So when told I had to step up to the platform and display whatever thingamabob or gift certificate being sold I jumped in with gusto.  However, I quickly learned dramatic license has no real place when auctioning car washes or a pie hutch.  Until the pork butts.

As I waited my turn to display some gorgeous quilt or weekend camping or four hours of house cleaning, I people watched.  As a writer, I tend to observe folks and pick up their unique quirks, tucking them away in my pocket like a 3x5 card full of future content.  There was the Mennonite couple, crisp in their dark blue clothes (tuck).  In the back was the handsome Dad wrapping his arms around his shivering son (tuck).  And (tuck) there was the two NaNas in a bidding war over the Peacock quilt, barely lifting their numbers or nodding their heads to bid.

I also looked to my son's teacher, Mrs. Spory, an angel of education.  Sitting beside her husband Mel, who lead the 5K run earlier in the day, smiling at the succession of people coming up to speak, thank or just share space with her.  Huddled in the 'plant booth' were Harry and Lucinda, hardworking folks who sacrificed greatly to have their two children attend this little private, Christian haven of education.  It was they who first introduced us to the school.  In the crowd successful business owners bid high on purpose, turning around seconds later to re-donate the thingy back to their beloved school.

I walked up, barely holding on to the ginormous packets o'pork in each arm.  I began to giggle, laugh and cry all at the same time.  How far I was from my beloved Beltway with it's Starbucks on every corner, ridiculous rents paid for by even more ridiculous salaries.  I was laughing because, well, I was holding two pig's butts (smoked, salted and packaged neatly in cellophane to be sure).  I laughed because while I have quite a ways to go before I fully understand or feel like a local, I realized I really like this new life we are living.

I like the simplicity of people for whom faith isn't a lovely ideal to be practiced on holidays.  Rather it's real and active and the framer of daily life and relationships.  I like people who commit so much and sacrifice for their families in the search for the American dream. 

And I really like pork butts.  Preferably in the form of ham pot pie, a staple at the Arts and Crafts fair.

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