The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Fallout May 15, 2013

Just how on earth does everyone else do it? A busy week, food to prepare, laundry to wash, school projects to complete, calls to return… Never mind the added inconvenience of a toilet that no longer flushes, a severe lack of counter space on which to prepare said food – and homework assignments which continue throughout. Oh, and violin practice. Yeah, right. Seriously, how does everyone deal with all of this… life? The other day Elihu himself mused aloud “I wonder how families with five kids manage. How do they get everything done? Imagine five kids to feed, five kids doing homework and then actually getting all of them getting to bed!” I was impressed that he’d made such an observation. Not that his mother hasn’t encouraged such thinking – I’m a frequent self-mutterer, ever in search of that missing piece of information. Other households can’t be this chaotic, this cluttered and un-picked up, can they? Maybe. The other day, utterly exasperated with the barrage of crap all about me, I complained to my mother as I waved an arm toward the kitchen table which was piled high with the detritus of a life fully lived. “Is everyone’s house such a mess? I don’t remember things looking like this when I was growing up. Did they? Did I just forget?? I cannot believe life needs to be like this!” She was uncharacteristically unphased by my frustration. In a surprisingly matter-of-fact tone she told me that she thought that yes, other households probably did look like this. Then she added that that’s what life looks like. Still, I wonder. Really?

I like right angles and clean surfaces and find great joy in knowing that things have been put in their proper places, like with like. In fact, a tidy house gives me enormous pleasure. If you are familiar with the characteristics of the Zodiac signs, then you may know that this is a hallmark of the Taurus. A love of things beautiful, of home, of things comfortable. Stability and domestic peace are top priority for the bulls. I feel myself to be quite definitely Taurean by these standards. And when my home is a scattered mess of stuff, I simply can’t feel true peace. Now I realize that if it were indeed ‘true peace’ that I was experiencing, it would have no requirements and no conditions. If I were truly a woman of inner balance I suppose a sloppy house would not stand in the way of a contented soul. But sadly, I am quite linked to the state of objects around me, and as things are now, inner peace is a long way off.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder how it is that other people live. What are they content to accept? To let go of? How differently might they tolerate the same conditions? As I wonder, I feel a persistent, low-grade guilt; I must be a wimp. I don’t even have a day job, yet I almost feel as if I can’t keep up. How do folks with friggin day jobs handle life? I wonder… does it help to have a partner? Once, years ago, I mused to my mother that I felt like a single mother. “All mothers are single mothers” she replied without the slightest bit of irony. Yeah, there’s just so much work to be done. But still, I can’t let it go… am I missing something? Sometimes I wonder how different things might be if I had a dishwasher. I cook each and every night. Takeout’s not a remote option on our budget (oh how very different from the last life I knew in which restaurants were part and parcel of daily life). And for some reason, cooking for two seems to involve just as many pans, dishes and utensils as does cooking for a bigger brood. Limited counter space means that things get quickly out of hand if not cleaned up promptly. But honestly, I just can’t find the energy to deal with it night after night. Thankfully, Elihu’s big animal report is done and I’ve learned all the music I need to for the eighth grade play, so our load’s a little lighter. Kind of. Got both a paycheck and food stamps today and so went shopping. Nothing sexy, just toilet paper, dishwashing liquid, bread, vegetables and such, but now there it all sits, taking up half my kitchen floor, waiting to be put away. Ich. Today I am pooped. Fell asleep during a rehearsal this afternoon, and frankly, I’m not sure where the energy to write this post is coming from (I enjoy it, maybe that’s part of it…). I just wish I could catch up. I was going to take a picture of the mess on my kitchen table but didn’t even have the energy for that. Hell, you probably know what a big mess looks like anyway. (Or do you?)

In my mind I’m going over the easiest dinner possible. How I can pull it off without washing anything, without moving anything or putting anything away. Then I’m thinking about bed. Oh how I want to go to bed now. But then there are chickens that need tending, chicks too. Elihu helps, yes, but in the end, it’s mommy that gits her done. As I write this in fact, he’s searching the house up and down for something. He can’t find it, but most likely I will. Thankfully, he understands I’m not feeling up to full mommy duty right now. He’s trying his best. And in a minute, after another moment of pause in my chair, I’ll pull myself together and do the same. I’ll bust it out. I’ll find his charger, I’ll make supper, I’ll put some things away. And then… finally… I can fallout.