Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mom! Mom! Mom!

I woke up at 3:00 am this morning to look at the eclipse. Wouldn't you know it, it was nowhere to be seen from my yard -- too many trees and clouds. But I was already awake, and it seemed a shame to miss out on a full eclipse. So I did what any irrational person would do; I grabbed my car keys and drove around town in a bathrobe hoping to find a good open view. Darn it all, after trying a few parking lots,  I still couldn't see the moon. Peeved, I finally headed home around 3:30 am and fell into the guest room bed (didn't want to wake up my DH). Restless, I tossed and turned for several hours until falling asleep.

I'm not sure how long I dozed, but I awoke to my oldest son nudging me. "Mom! Mom! Mom!" Exhausted, I barely opened my eyes. He wanted to ask about downloading some game.

I croaked, "Ask Daddy."

"I can't," he responded. "Dad's sleeping."

I laughed, "Oh, ok, so that's why you woke me up!"


It has occurred to me on a number of occasions that I am generally the go-to parent. If the kids want a snack, or a toy, or a game, or anything really, it's always, "Mom, I'm  hungry, I'm thirsty, can I have that?" If they want to go to a movie or to a friend's house, it's, "Mom, will you take me..." If the kids are bickering, it's, "Mom, he did... he said..." If they're bored, it's "Mom, will you play... can we go..." If doesn't even matter if Dad is two steps away from them, they will hunt me down wherever I may be for whatever they want. D. H. Lawrence wrote about a house that constantly whispered, "There must be more money!" If my house could talk, I think it would screech, "Mom! Mom! Mom!"

Often, it's inconvenient being the go-to parent. Sometimes, it's nerve wracking. Some days, all I want is an hour or two to be entirely alone. A lot of moms can sympathize, I think. A friend of mine once told me that her daughters kept crying, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" all day, and out of exasperation she finally said, "Enough! You are not allowed to call me mom anymore today!" One daughter gave her a confused look and haltingly replied, "Ok... uh... Georgine?"

I was thinking about this today as my younger son asked me to keep him company in the basement while he played a video game. He didn't actually want me to play (it's a one-person game). He just wanted me to sit there with him. So I did; I worked on a quilt while he played. That's when I decided that being the go-to parent has certain advantages. Yes, I get to deal with arguments, tantrums, and unending requests. However, when the kids want company, they always ask for mom first. When something great happens at school, they run home and yell, "Mom! Guess what!" If they're happy, mom gets hugged first. During movie night, they snuggle up on the couch next to mom. I came to the realization that being there for the tiring stuff is what brings my kids back for the good stuff. I don't get the "better" until I take the "worse."

I had more thoughts, but I think I'll cut them short because even as I type, my kids are pestering me to get in the kitchen and make cookies. Even though I really, really, really don't like making cookies, that's ok. Tonight, they'll ask me for a bedtime story or want to tell me something funny. It'll be worth it then.


Just to be clear, I don't want this to sound like my husband ignores the kids. I also don't mean to imply that the kids don't love their dad. They do, and they have their own relationship with him that's different from their bond with me. I figure they come to me first because they're just used to mom being the one who takes care of their immediate needs. After all, I'm home while their dad is at work. However, I wouldn't be at home if it weren't for him.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Magic Stairs

I don't collect shoes or purses or jewelry. However, I do have a thing for books, and it was a torture in my old home to not have them out because of a lack of shelving. For seven years, we talked about built-ins, but my husband was always so busy with work that he never was able to get around to it.

Sad books confined to boxes and yearning to be free

When we bought our new house, one of the features we fell in love with was an office with a loft -- perfect for a library. However, rather than wait for time/energy to install built-ins, we took the easy way out and got inexpensive bookcases from Ikea.

The tricky part was getting them (as well as a few pieces of furniture and a stereo) up a very narrow spiral staircase. I'm still not sure how we did it, but we managed.

Everyone needs a chair for reading.
Even if DH didn't get to make the shelves, he did make the other furniture.

Some music if you like.
It was heavy, dusty work, but it was a labor of love. Although we're already out of shelf space, I can't help feeling satisfied. Every time I even glance at my books, I feel like Maureen O'Hara's character in The Quiet Man the morning she gets her dowry. For the past two months, I've been up and down, excitedly poring over novels that I haven't seen in ages. It's like meeting up with my best and oldest friends. Pure giddiness. Finally, I have my things about me.

A quilt I made will hang above the stereo.
I have another quilt planned for the opposite wall.

Last week, my son had some friends over, and they were playing up in the library. (Kids seem to gravitate to that space.) Anyway, one of them came bounding excitedly into the kitchen. Breathlessly he asked me, "Do you know that you have magic stairs?!"

It was such a wonderful way to describe, I thought, those twisty stairs climbing up to my happy space. All I could say in reply was, "Yes, yes, I do."

Our magic stairs.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Battling the Frost Giants

I would be lying if I said I liked winter. I don't -- not even a little bit. In fact, I'm not keen on fall either, and spring is welcome only because it heralds the end of winter. Of course, there are nice things about all of these seasons -- sledding in winter, apples in fall, crocuses in spring. However, I'd give them all up in a heartbeat for perpetual summer. Summer with its flip flops, popsicles, and beaches is the season for me. What can I say? Some like it hot.

So forgive me if this post is crabby. I'm crabby. In the past two weeks, ice demons have dumped over two and a half feet of snow on my roof. Despite constant snow raking (something this hothouse flower from Florida has never even heard of before), I have ice dams all over the place. Even worse, we have nonstop dripping, like Chinese water torture, through the kitchen ceiling.

My poor DH was out on the roof clearing snow and ice from the area above the leak. That's where the roof over a sunroom-turned-breakfast nook butts up against the siding for the main portion of our house. It's also, we discovered, where some numbskull didn't install any flashing. Aargh!  

During this miserable polar vortex, I try to console myself by recalling Tolkien's story in The Silmarillion regarding the creation of Arda. In this tale, Iluvatar gathers the Ainur and declares his plans to them. Then he asks the Ainur, whom he has kindled with the Flame Imperishable, to make a Great Music, thereby bringing his vision into being. Iluvatar listens with pleasure to the flawless music as the Ainur express their gifts until the haughty and overly ambitious Melkor begins to sing his own discordant tune. The noise spreads ever wider until the Ainur's melodies founder in "a sea of turbulent sound." Eventually, when Melkor's noise assaults Iluvatar's very throne, Iluvatar  has to step in, restore order to the song, and console the Ainur. This is the passage that I always remember in winter:
And Iluvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: 'Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of thy clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwe, thy friend, whom thou lovest.'
Then Ulmo answered: 'Truly Water is become now fairer than my heart imagined, neither had my secret thought conceived the snowflake, nor in all my music was contained the falling of the rain."
When it's 2 degrees outside and I'm dressed like a cabbage in five layers of clothing and still cold, this passage is my go-to memory, reminding me that even in the bitterest situation, something wonderful and lovely can be born. But even the wise and optimistic Tolkien is not working for me at the moment. Right now, I'm really feeling Scandinavian mythology in which Odin deluges Niflheim, that world of mist and chill and ice, with blood and destroys the frost giants. (Man! Those Norsemen knew how to wreak some proper havoc!)

Al fresco summer meals are a distant memory.

Roofers seem to be in short supply right now, but we have one coming to fix things today. Until then, though, I think I'll try drowning my misery in a flood of tea (and maybe something stronger). How many cups do you think it will take?
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