Life as a queen in a land of many kings…

Living Life, Making Messes

Remember that New Year’s resolution about cleaning the refrigerator?  Well, after months of trying to convince me to undertake the chore (“It’s easy” and “It’ll only take a few minutes”), Matt finally tore apart the refrigerator and cleaned up the dried, spilt Kool Aid and other crumbs of yesteryear.  That “quick and easy” task ended up being divided between two days.  Coming from the kitchen, I heard several curse words and the banging of refrigerator drawers.  I silently laughed to myself as his temper grew hotter.  Easy?  I knew better than that!

The refrigerator sent him into a cleaning rampage.  This happens from time to time, and these rampages are a bittersweet experience for me–sweet because someone other than me is motivated to clean, bitter because he blames me for most of the messes (despite my earlier claim that I make only 10% of them) and because most anything that gets in his way ends up in the trash.  ”We’re slobs!” he declared.  ”We need to do a better job taking care of things!”

It was funny to see him experience the frustration I feel every week as I tackle a mountain of chores.  Finally, he understands, I thought.  I told him I’m glad to see him take an interest and that maybe together we can keep up with things because I obviously haven’t been able to do it on my own.  To his credit, he does help.  And we’re both to blame for making messes (and not cleaning them).  But we’re by no means slobs.  Our house is simply lived in, and I try to remind myself of this on the average day when I look around and cringe because our humble abode isn’t even close to anything you’d see in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  (Does anyone’s house really look like that–so bright, sparkly, and pristine???)

But not all messes are bad, I’m learning.  In fact, the mess of squash or sweet potato smothered all over Westin’s face is one I’ve quickly learned to love!  The spray of orange baby food across his booster seat tray makes me laugh.  Surely, he’s more interested in his new-found talent for blowing bubbles than he is in the pureed mush I keep shoveling into his mouth!

Baby food is only the beginning.  I want Westin to grow up and make messes.  I want him to finger paint and play in the dirt and splash through the creek in our backyard.  I want to feel frustrated that he got grass stains on his new shirt or that he walked through a rain puddle in his “good” sneakers because these are all necessary parts of childhood.  I want him to have an imagination.  I want him to explore and play and feel that the world is his to discover.  I want him to go outside on nice days instead of sitting in front of the TV.  I want him to bake with me and throw sprinkles all over the kitchen and kiss me with his flour-covered face–his bright, blueberry eyes the only thing showing through.  I want him to have fun and to laugh and to revel in the joy of mess making.

Of course, I also want him to learn how to clean up the messes he makes.

I’m in the habit of trying to do just that each night before going to bed.  Empty glasses go in the dishwasher.  Dirty burp cloths go in the hamper.  Abandoned toys go back in their basket.  Stray bills and junk mail get piled neatly on the dining room table.  I brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and head upstairs, but there’s one last thing I do before turning out the light and settling into bed.  I tiptoe into Westin’s room and check on him one last time.  It’s the same thing every night.  I see his chest move up an down with each breath, and from the glow of the hallway light shining outside his bedroom door, I study the shadows and contours of his face.  ”He is perfect,” I think to myself.  And with that thought, I drift off to dreamland feeling that this life, and it’s many messes, is perfect too.

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A fresh start!

Yesterday I was in one of those moods.  There wasn’t really anything wrong, and yet I felt like I was at odds with the world.  For one, the Cleaning Fairy forgot to visit my house this weekend.  I was really, really depending on her, so you can imagine how let down I felt when she didn’t come.  I had had this great idea that in addition to my regular weekly chores, I’d make a list of special, less-frequent chores (wiping down the kitchen cabinets, cleaning the oven, dusting the baseboard trim) and aim to accomplish one a week so that little by little, the whole house would be cleaned on a regular basis without any huge efforts or whole-day cleaning frenzies.  As it turns out, I didn’t even find the time to do my weekly chore of vacuuming let alone begin to tackle the list.

That’s what started it.  Then I looked around the house and only felt more infuriated.  How, if I just picked up the house yesterday, does it need picked up again?  Why is there pee on that part of the toilet?  For that matter, why is there pee on any part of the toilet other than in the toilet bowl?!  And who keeps getting toothpaste residue all over the bathroom sink…and the bathroom mirror???  AH!  Surely, I decided, I make only 10% of the messes at home but clean up 90% of them.  It just didn’t seem right.

I fumed over this throughout my work day while also contemplating Westin’s newly-erratic sleep schedule.  I thought through all the reasons he might be waking up more frequently–teething, hunger, just wants mommy.  I was frustrated.  Not frustrated with him, but frustrated that my sleep was more interrupted than usual.  Most of all, I was frustrated that my baby was waking up in need of something and I didn’t know what it was.

Then I picked Westin up from daycare and had the heart-wrenching realization that daycare just isn’t a substitute for mommy.  This is nothing new, but in my already-sensitive state, it hit me that there are times throughout his day when he just wants some extra snuggles from me and I’m not there to give them to him.  I am absolutely confident he is receiving good care.  He’s in a small, home daycare setting.  He smiles when I drop him off and he smiles when I pick him up.  I’ve never doubted that his every need is being met.  His every need except for mommy…

We went home and I held him and cried.  He smiled at me, and I cried some more!  But then, a little bit of that grumble, grumble feeling lifted.  For once, I did not take my bad mood out on Matt.  The evening passed by too quickly, and though it felt like I’d never have the chance to get my shower and prep Westin’s bottles for the next day, I managed to get everything done and still get to bed at the usual time.  And Westin, the dear boy, only woke up once last night, which is the norm.

Sometimes a good cry and a good night’s sleep can fix everything.  I’m still not sure about “the list,” but today I’m starting fresh, new, and happy.  I can’t wait to get home to my three Valentines!  I’m feeling thankful for all my loved ones this Valentine’s Day and thankful that I’ve outgrown the single, 17-year-old April who wore a homemade “LOVE SUCKS” tee on this once-dreaded holiday.  Love makes the world go ’round–let’s give it a little spin!

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Celebrating Life

Life is good!  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  Our vet called on Monday to share the good news we had been hoping for:  Morgan’s lump was benign.  No cancer!  I was so overwhelmed by the news that I nearly cried.  Pure happiness.  I know our days are never guaranteed, but I’m so thankful our years with Morgan won’t feel quite so numbered now!  Once again my mind is filled with those sweet images of Morgan and Westin growing to be the best of friends.  Thanks to everyone for your support.   

2.   This weekend we celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday–the third 80th birthday we’ve celebrated in three years.  I’m so happy to see our grandparents reach these milestones.  Part of our drive to start our family when we did was so Westin would have a better chance of knowing his great grandparents.  It means so much to have them be a part of his life.  My grandfather experienced near-death complications from emphysema almost two years ago, and I feared then that he would never make it long enough to see my children be born.  He beat the odds, and now I have a picture of him holding Westin that I will treasure forever.  There was a time I never thought it would be possible. 

3.  Westin seems to be over the worst of his three-week-long cold!  He’s becoming my little buddy.  Sometimes our time together feels like I’m just hanging out with a good friend, but better.  There’s that uncontrollable, contagious happiness and laughter.  Lately we’ve been playing this little game where Westin sits up between my outstretched legs and we take turns leaning forward and back while I sing, “Row, row, row your boat.”  The grins on that boy’s face are like nothing else.  He looks at me as if I’m the coolest, most fun person in the whole world.  But I guess in his world, I am.

4.  Matt continues to be amazing and supportive.  He cooks dinner, cleans up the dishes, and sneaks in play time with Westin.  He has played a huge role in Morgan’s recovery while my time is consumed by Westin.  Lately I get the sense that he is missing ‘us,’ but he’s understanding when I choose catching up on sleep over snuggling on the sofa at night.  This weekend he and his dad have planned a whole day at Hollywood Casino, and I’m actually really excited for him to have a day dedicated to doing something he really enjoys.  He has worked almost every Saturday lately, so this will be some well-deserved fun.  I hope it makes his heart as happy as he makes me.  (It would be ok if it made his wallet happy too!)

I’m a big believer in “the little things.”  We haven’t been up to anything extraordinary lately.  Some nights last week were a little more restless than usual, some days a little more hectic.  But the little things–my baby’s smile, my husband’s kiss, my dog’s tail wag–make every moment sweet and every day worth celebrating!
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