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.

 

7 Responses to “Fallout”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    If anyone tells you they do it all, they are a big ol’ liar :) We all struggle with our various ideas of a comfortable balance (my mum is messy but not dirty housekeeper – I am a perfectionist that struggles with a bit of untidy, but have to make do with not dirty) and adapting to sharing a space but possibly not a work load with others. Your mum sounds very wise. I have two children and a husband that is like a third child as far as my work load is concerned – I am often overwhelmed and feeling like my house is some sort of universal rubbish dump…but then you make yourself a cuppa (it is between the two shopping bags on the bench, the kettle) and you munch your way through a crisp apple (which are way more effective than coffee at waking you up) and you do a litte. Pick a number between one and ten – go through each room in your house and do that many little things…even just picking something up and putting it away….and before you know it – well you’ve done some.
    Oh and btw my brother has six kids – he is just tired and overworked all the time. I know large families that start to delegate as the kids get older, spreading the load but this is not fail safe, kids are kids after all.
    I can completely relate to your peace of mind being connected to your environment so I’m not going to go the worn sagely comments about leaving housework until the kid leaves home so you can dedicate yourself to what counts (they really bug me) but it is important to have a balance because neglecting your own well being (including the tidy house bit) completely is going to get you to stress city pretty quickly.
    Best of wishes and I hope it falls into place for you :)

    • wingmother Says:

      oh thank you, Charlotte. It is nice to know it’s not just me. And your brother…. and his wife, no less. Wow. Keeps my own little mess in perspective. This morning I’m up an hour early to see if I can’t restore some order. Coffee’s on…

  2. Brian murphy Says:

    Liz feel your pain here is recipe for the egg lady
    Braise asparagus in chicken broth with garlic, gently cook 2 eggs sunny up, now lay the finished asparagus on a plate top with the eggs and season with s&p and Parmesan cheese . This is asparagus Milanese very easy elegant and delicious And only one pan to clean We eat it at least once a week

  3. abbbz Says:

    So glad to know that my house is not the only one that looks like a tornado hit it! I have 3 little ones (5,4, 16 months) and work 45 hours a week outside the house so I use that as my excuse! We do quick dinners every night-sometimes when Im feeling up to it on the weekends, I cook and freeze so all I have to do is defrost and wash a plate or 5! I really love the blog…The pictures are amazing, and I can relate with all that is going on with your dad (both my grandparents on either side went through the same). Thanks for making me smile while dealing with adult children at work all day =)

    • wingmother Says:

      I think probably the majority of people live far differently than we might imagine. Piles are a way of life… I too used to cook and freeze – might do that again. Just always so many small things to tend to… even an afternoon cooking and freezing is in of itself a project. Glad you enjoy the blog – sometimes I feel it’s a little self-indulgent, but it’s been my only outlet in my post-divorce life and necessary for my sanity. A nice outcome from a crappy situation. ! all the best to you – I have immense respect for your job as mom!! (And I do NOT get how on earth you can also work..?!!?)

      • abbbz Says:

        Please there are days when I get up and also can not believe that I am going to work-BUT the bills must get paid, and although I do have help -my fiancee takes care of all 3 kids while Im at work-its neccessary bc I do not get any financial help or any help at all from the dads of my 2 oldest ones. Not complaing just stating fact. I too blog on here and its theraputic and I agree it helps with the sanity…anything to not goa little nuts aye?


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