Old houses and a slice of humble pie

I grew up in an American foursquare house. We had a front yard, a back yard and 100+year old cracked plaster walls. My mom moved out a year and a half after we moved in and it was just me and my dad for the next four years. And the eight kids wreaking havoc in our in-home daycare from 7AM - 5PM Monday thru Friday. I had few chores and I am sure bitched and moaned while doing each and every one of them. You know, something along the lines of,  "I've got to feed the cats while you prepare three meals a day for me? YOU FASCIST!" (and I can assure you that I did not know the definition of "fascist" at that time).

The walls always needed a coat of paint, the baseboards cleaned, and the bathrooms...well, I was living with a single dad who grew up in a family with six other boys; you can imagine the uphill battle on that front. Anyway, suffice it to say, it was never "good enough" for yours truly.  However, you didn't see me doing much work. And when I did, I generally screwed things up like the time I essentially bleached the hardwood floors. Still, I had a shitty attitude. I still do.

So what? Well, after moving int our own 100+ year old house six months ago, wrestling with a yard, a toddler, a  job and some tiny semblance of a social life, I have eaten a big old serving of humble pie thrice over. We are overwhelmed and there are two of us to maintain the place; two incomes to use to hire someone if we need help; two sets of in-laws and respective families within 1-5 hours driving distance to lend a hand. My dad spent his weekends driving me to and from Chicago so I could see my mom at my grandparents or in the hospital. Or bartending Friday and Saturday nights to pay bills and take care of me. And he did an excellent job at making my childhood seem 100% normal. It was seriously awesome.

We took motorcycle rides through Spain and France, went to  Disneyland, toured the Midwestern countryside,  and canoed on the WI river (well, he canoed, i mostly just complained). I got to go to crazy ass concerts like Heart and Bob Dylan at the age of 10. He always gave me "fun money", told me I did well in school as long as I did my best and never enforced a curfew. Best of all, and this may sound cheesy, I knew anytime we went into a bookstore I got to buy a book. As a kid, well crap, even as a college kid, it was something I always looked forward to and now do with my own little guy.

He's a good dad. In an old, but loved house. And I guess that is how it should be.

So dad, I get it now. And I'm sorry.

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    Annie Swingen

    Chicago-based hyperbole enthusiast. Mom to a kid and sometimes my mom. Overboard (1987) obsessed weirdo. I like the funnies in life.

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