I’m at the end of a day where I can look around my house and see that it is more organized than it was when the day began. The same is true for my email and my task list. I like being at the end of that sort of day. I particularly like it when we also took the entire family out to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. We frequently have trouble finding an activity that appeals to everyone, but this movie fit the bill. Everyone had a good time and we all came home happy. All that remains is to remind the kids that we still have school in the morning. None of us wants to remember that. We’re all very ready to have summer. This feeling is amplified by having Kiki home from college. Four weeks left. We should be able to make it through.
For now, I need to go to bed so that tomorrow can be another day where things are more organized at the end of it.
I had fun doing the photo a day list during April. I only missed one day. I won’t be continuing to post photos to twitter every day, but I will be posting them sometimes when there is a thing in the world that I think is pretty or interesting.
I was anxious before the hike began. The entire church group planned to walk ten miles in preparation for the Pioneer Trek we’ll be taking in July. The trail was a fairly flat bike path, but ten miles is still a long way to walk for people who aren’t used to walking very much. I worried that one or more of my children would, at some point, sit down on the trail and declare they couldn’t go any further. I worried that there would be blisters and pain. I worried that if one of the kids had to be rescued part way by a vehicle, then that kid would refuse to go on Trek at all. But we needed to know what ten miles of walking would do to us, because if we did need to be rescued, perhaps the trek was inadvisable.
We were all good until mile eight. That was when Howard’s legs began aching in new and interesting ways. It was also when Link slowed down and began to limp. By the end he was hobbling along and wincing, but he continued. He did not stop. He did not give up. And we made it to the end.
The remainder of the day was spent sitting on cushy pieces of furniture and wincing any time we had to move. Yet I can tell that all we suffer from is some sore muscles. We’ll be better fairly quickly. There were a few small blisters, but we can attend to those. We all did ten miles with very little advance training. If we do more walking in the two months between now and the trek, we’ll be fine.
We’ve gotten to the time of year where I’m counting down days. Less than one day until I fetch Kiki from college. Two days until we have a family excursion in preparation for Pioneer Trek. Five days until my son is supposed to have a big history fair project ready for presentations. Eighteen days until the Kickstarter closes and we switch into creation mode. Nineteen days until the new carpet is installed. Four weeks until school is over for the year and we switch into summer mode, which will also include school, because Link needs to make up credits. There are other things to count toward, but these are the ones that I keep counting even when I try not to. I don’t really want to count these things. I want to be content in the days as they come to me, but getting closer to these landmarks feels like progress.
The good news is that I’m beginning to be able to put my house back in order. The room shifting is mostly accomplished. Now I just need to sort through the displaced items and find them new homes. Or get rid of them. I like getting rid of things. It means I won’t have to clean them up or store them ever again. Having Kiki at home will help with this.
In the meantime I’ll just keep putting on foot in front of the other. If I keep doing that, then eventually I’ll end up somewhere else. I could do with a “somewhere else” that has more routine and fewer mental health issues to manage. Last week I counted the hours I spent on mental health stuff. Fifteen hours. That’s a part time job that I’d love to be able to ditch because everyone was doing better. The good news is that we’ve finished jumping through hoops and having application meetings. Going forward we’ll just be having the appointments which are actually supposed to help instead of the ones which determine what sorts of help we qualify for. I have lots of thoughts on all of this, but I’ve had trouble sorting them into anything coherent. Hopefully that will come back as I put more things in order around here.
The end goal for the construction we endured a week ago was to create a room large enough for my two boys to share. They’ve been sharing a room for twelve years, ever since Patch was born, and it worked reasonably well when they had a bunk bed. But a few years ago they felt done with bunk beds. The result was a room that had an aisle for walking, two beds and two dressers. There really wasn’t any space for playing or hanging out. It was where they slept and where they stored their stuff. And they kept getting bigger until we had the largest person in our house and the rapidly growing one crammed together in the smallest bedroom. So I wiggled the finances around and we finished the basement room which used to be my shipping room. When we learned that the carpet would not arrive until mid-May, the boys decided to move into the new room and live with a concrete floor for a few weeks. We moved the essentials and boxed the rest in order to minimize the amount of stuff we’ll have to move back out for carpet install. By noon the furniture was in and the boys were already enjoying their new space.
A strange thing happened as the upstairs room began to empty out, I traveled back in time. The last time I saw the room so empty was when it held a crib and a mattress on the floor for my two little boys. I stood among the boxes and read the history writ on the walls. There were the circles Link drew on the wall and ceiling when he had the top bunk and planned out orbits for his glow-in-the-dark solar system. Next to them was the shadow of a Blues Clues wall sticker, beloved for years and then removed when it became embarrassing. The spot where Link decided to keep score in a game by writing it on the wall. A hundred pin holes because the boy’s default mechanism for hanging things was to steal push pins from my corkboard. My flow of memory was only enhanced by the fact that we dug into the very back corners of their closet. It was an archeological dig back to Link’s much younger years. I had him sort things he wanted to keep into boxes and the rest we discarded or gave away.
I kept it together until Link left his jar of eraser buddies for me to get rid of. I held it up and said “what about these.” He shook his head and said “nah.” I held the little jar in my hand. It had been so important to him eight years ago. I wrote a blog post about the games he played with them during homework time. That was half his lifetime ago and he has become someone else. I sat in the room after Link had gone downstairs. I looked around the room where my little boy used to live. I held one of his treasures in my hands and a wave of sadness rolled over me. I grieve sometimes for the children that are gone. They transformed and became new people. I like who they are. I certainly don’t want them to stop. But sometimes, like today, I cry for a while. And I keep the eraser buddies, even though I know that is a little bit silly.
The new room is so much better for the boys. They have space to be teenagers together. They’ve made plans to acquire a small couch and a monitor so that they can play video games with friends in their room. Link walked with me through IKEA and I could see him thinking about an adult living space. He’s getting excited about chairs they way he used to get excited about toys. Time marches onward. We change and we change our spaces to match our new selves. Next week Kiki will come home and move into the room that was vacated by the boys. She will hang things on the walls and turn that room into something it has never been before. In the near future, probably after Kiki has vacated to return to college, the room will get a new coat of paint and a new carpet. The room my little boy grew up in will transform, just as he did.
I’m having the kind of week where I spend all of my hours on important things, but all the work is broken into small portions of time by all of the other work. And none of it is finished, so I know that next week and the week after will be the same way. I feel like I’m failing at all of it, even though I have logical evidence that I am not.
So here are the things that make up my week:
My 12 year old has a history fair project. It is big. I have to make sure he does all the research and then we will have to do all the preparation and construction. This big project is not his only homework. I know some of it is being missed because he is not good at tracking and I am distracted.
Shipping and customer support:
Add to all that the regular things such as laundry, random phone calls from people who only want a minute of my time, and the fact that my kids have decided that digging holes is the new cool thing, which means I have dirt everywhere. (They track it in, then their sweeping is inadequate.) I want to do all the things well. Instead I’m managing to do the most important ones adequately. I’m fairly certain that somewhere up ahead is a week that is less busy. I’ll enjoy that when I get there. For right now, I need to get back to work.
This is the third week of my photo a day project.
It was a lecture I’d given before. It felt like I was always giving it to no effect, but any time my kids began pouting because they didn’t have money to buy what they wanted, the lecture just falls right out of my mouth. I can’t help it, because it is infuriating that I spend weeks trying and trying to get my kids to do work. I offer them money. I offer them more money than the job is actually worth because I really want someone else to do it, because I can’t to all of the things by myself. I practically beg “Please take this money and make this dumb task go away.” They always decide not to. They don’t want anything right that minute, so they would rather play. Or maybe they do want something, but they don’t want THAT job. Or they want one job that will give them all of they money they need instead of seeing that multiple small jobs can add up to a lot of money. So they decide not to work. And then a few weeks or months later they come and be sad at me because life is not fair and they never get anything they want. Then they get the lecture about the value of work and why small jobs are worthwhile with a side order of the importance of planning ahead.
So Gleek was sad about not having a mermaid tail. She’d spent her birthday money on other things and been happy at the time, but today the lack of funds to buy a tail was tearful. And the lecture fell out of my mouth and landed on her. It made her sad/mad. But then something happened which has not happened before. She slammed out of the house and mowed the front lawn. Lawn mowing is one of the standard paid work jobs that I’m having to beg kids to do. As she mowed, she did math in her head. She asked questions about whether she could also take over mowing sections of the back yard. I told her about other work that I’d be delighted to have her do.
Only time will tell if she actually sticks to her plan of earning money week after week. I really hope she does. I could use the willing help. I would also be relieved if I could see my kids recognizing that they have to work for the things they want.
Addendum: I should note that my college age daughter, Kiki, does understand that work is necessary. It is the three live-at-home kids who have yet to grasp the concept.
When I wrote about how noisy it was in my head and in my house I thought the noise would subside more quickly than it has. The internet noise shifted tone, but did not cease. Which doesn’t surprise me. The internet is always noisy and outraged about some thing. It just bothered me more this time around because the arguments punched some of my personal anxiety buttons. The construction work we were having done to finish a room for my boys is complete. We now have a room that will be ready for occupation as soon as carpet is installed. The quieting of these things has been significantly offset by the fact that we launched our Kickstarter. Then it funded in less than 24 hours. Now I’m hoping very much that we reach the $150,000 stretch goal so that we can afford to create and print the in-world book 70 Maxims for Maximally Effective Mercenaries. I’m also buried under huge piles of email and the more people who back the project the more email rolls in. My email response time has gone way down and I feel bad about that because the backers deserve better.
On the parenting front, we appear to have reached a stable place. I’m no longer having to respond to emotional crisis multiple times per week. I feel a bit cautious saying that, we haven’t been stable long enough for me to feel secure. I’m also aware that this stable place is not a place we want to stay. There is a big difference between “not in crisis” and “living a full and growth-filled life.” Even with the increased quiet my time and attention are being impacted with extra meetings, managing homeschooling, and figuring out how to switch everything over to a summertime mode. Meanwhile my other son’s teacher seems determined to squeeze in all the assignments she didn’t get done earlier. The onslaught of homework is significant, particularly for my son who has been feeling overwhelmed. Also my teenage daughter has had some standard issue teen drama to work through. (Can I say how light and fluffy that felt to me in comparison to what I’ve helped kids through in the last two years? I kind of want to hug her emotional drama and shout “It’s so fluffy!” like that little girl in Despicable Me.) My college daughter comes home in two weeks and I’m really hoping the carpet is installed in time for me to move the boys out of the room where she’ll be staying.
One of the exciting things this week was that Howard and I decided that I need to be at GenCon this year. We’re running and RPG Kickstarter and then I’m helping make the book. There are things about a community that can only be understood by participating in that community. So off to GenCon I go. Hopefully sometime between now and then I’ll find a way to re-open the writer portions of my brain which have been shut down since some emotional stuff slammed me the first week of March. If nothing else, I’ll get to hang out with all the writer people at GenCon and I’ll get to see our booth crew whom I’ve only had the chance to meet once. I’m really looking forward to it.