Tuesday, March 27, 2012

the path (xii)

Oh, right! Regarding installment XI in this series? It was published for a whole 90 minutes, before Charlie read it on his iPhone and called me yelling, "ARE YOU CRAZY?"

He of all people should know the answer to that.

Yes, of course I am!

And your point is?

His point was that he's not crazy. And he kindly suggested, from the perspective of a person with a good grasp on their sanity, that people don't write things like what I wrote on their public blog, where they are read by people, who know us, personally.

OK. Fine. But I'm not deleting the post. It's critically important to the story and must be preserved so when I look at back on this time and have any regrets for choices I might have made, I can remember precisely my state of mind at the time.

My logical husband then went on to suggest that I'm very much like a sports car.

"Jen, you can go from zero to sixty in under two seconds. You're capable of taking corners like you're on rails, all the while maintaining very high speeds. When you're at your peak, you're a sight to behold. But baby, when you breakdown, you BREAK DOWN!"

He's right. And he knows that for the last few miles, I've been running on fumes and now, there is no gas left in the tank. I've got bent rims and there is smoke billowing out from beneath my hood. One of my tires is rolling down the road and a door just fell clear off it's hinges. When I tell him this, my husband laughs and says, "Honey, that's why I'm your tow truck. Why don't you let me hook you up and bring you back to the shop for some body work?"

That's a knee slapper, that one is!

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Thank God for Charlie.

Or more precisely, Thank God he's acutely aware that I really am in the breakdown lane. Of course, it's a little frustrating for me, because I feel like if my circumstances were different, I'd still be on the course, happily making laps. But the severe imbalance in my life, has thrown all of our lives off kilter.

f your eyes fell upon my XI series, that I published earlier today, you might better understand what I'm eluding to, here. And 
one of the many things that I touched upon in that post, but didn't fully explore, are some of the fundamental differences between mothers and fathers. More specifically, even if a mother is the primary provider for a family, there are parental responsibilities that only she can fulfill. I think this goes both ways, actually. And I think that at least in our case, the fact that I've deferred the majority of parental responsibilities to Charlie, has caused disharmony in our family. 
This disharmony was the impetus for me threatening to LEAVE in December. Until I realized, it's not anyone's fault.

It's simply the chemical and biological variability that exists between fathers and mothers.

We're programmed a certain way.

(Or at least Charlie and I are.)

For example, several weeks ago, one of our children was "Star of the Week" in their classroom. Charlie and I both showed up to read a story and spend some time talking with the class. As our child sat proudly perched between us, at the front of the room, she placed her arm on her father's shoulder and said, "Everyone, this is my Dad. He is a GREAT dad. Every day, he'll chase us around the yard and wrestle with me. We rough house and build bridges and I really love him."

Then she turned and faced me with a beaming smile. She put her arm on my shoulder and continued, "Everyone, this is my Mom. She is a GREAT mom. She is also a great cleaner. Every weekend she cleans the whole house from top to bottom. She scrubs the bathrooms and cleans underneath my bed and she works so, so, so, so, so hard. Mom will read me stories, but sometimes she falls asleep and the book falls on her face, like … this." She shows an open book crashing on to her nose before adding, "I really love her."

Awww! Those are just the kind of things that I want for my children to remember about their childhoods. Their dad running around with them, playing, while I wear yellow rubber gloves and wield a toilet brush. I take a break from my chores (hobby?) to read them a story, and quickly fall asleep with "Where The Wild Things Are" on my face.

I give the teacher a weak smile and she smiles back and softly nods her head.

A mother's work is never done.

In my defense, it's a well documented fact that I cannot function in a space that is not well organized.

Let me say that again, with the correct emphasis…


Even after a long work week, I'll come home and tackle cleaning the house. Not because I particularly enjoy spending my free time kneeling on the floor scrubbing behind a 50-year old toilet, but because a clear space is a clear mind. But say, while I'm down here, can I just point out that once the trashcan is full, it's not acceptable to throw trash BEHIND the toilet?

You, little one, that is moving in to my bedroom.

Can you hear me?

The kids ask me to play a game. I peel off my gloves and we pull up chairs to the table. But I quickly realize, how can I sit down and play Candy Land with the children if I don't know where half the pieces are? We surrender the idea and instead, go out to play T-ball in the front yard because it is a beautiful sunny, spring day. 
We go to find the T-ball equipment and it's missing from it's designated location. After 20-minutes, we give up. N
ow we're on to painting, except oops, all the paint is dried up because we forgot to put the caps back on. Frustration rapidly mounts because h
ow can I really enjoy these moments if I can't find anything?

Dear God, am I the only one that knows how to put things away?


Now quit your whining and go embrace your womanly responsibility.

I've always been organized, it's in my nature. But my organizational skills have hit mach speed since I've had children. I've long believed that they had to reach that level if I was going to survive and function. So my typical schedule is that I work all week and I clean much of the day on Saturday in an effort to restore the house to MY kind of order, whilst fully recognizing that order will largely disappear once I go back to the office on Monday.

Rinse and repeat the next weekend.

I try not to feel annoyed at our circumstances and the entropy that exists around me in the form of six beings. But as I'm cleaning up, I find overdue library books. And an unpaid bill. And a birthday invitation for a party that is tomorrow and we haven't RSVP'd, nor purchased a present. At the bottom of the pile are school supplies that were sent home to help one of our children who is struggling with their reading. These items, which we should be using daily, are covered in dust. Unused. Untouched. Since I last moved them during my "Order Restoration Session" last weekend.

A few months ago, when I was pulled aside by my child's teacher and told that if things didn't improve soon, they would likely fail the first grade, I made a pact with my husband that we would do everything in our power to make sure that didn't happen. We worked tirelessly, over the winter break, every day. We were committed. Now I pick up the flashcards and reading material, blow off the dust, and sadly sigh. One of the children is having trouble in school. Another one is having discipline issues. Another one is having social issues. One of them is bouncing off the walls because their diet has been reduced to peanut butter and jelly. Except when I'm home and insist that they eat fruit and vegetables. Is this just typical kid stuff that we'd be struggling with, even if our circumstances were different? I'm not so sure... 

I focus on the positive: 
the children have a parent who is kind and patient, and tickles them and loves them to the moon, every single day. They are safe and mostly, happy. 
But it still really feels like something's missing. 
And in my opinion, that something is me.

Or, maybe I'm over thinking all of this and we just need a live-in maid.

Like Alice. From the Brady Bunch.