I have embarked on a bit of an adventure: Steve has moved South for a few months as is his winter habit. He is now a Snowbird. I stay up North and watch the dogs. This provides a few degrees of separation and solitude to a marriage that is 24/7, since Steve works at home.
In years past I have had an ancillary project to work on to fill the time. I redid a bathroom, organized photo albums, tamed my photo files on the Mac. This year, any such goals would be an overreach.
This year, I get the separation, but not the solitude. My 2014 project is a living, breathing cohabitation with Pat,Rachel and Henry Dahl. Pat and Rach last lived with us after they returned to Chicago from California. Things have changed: they have a baby, one on the way, and are moving to the suburbs. Their new home will not be rehabbed until April 15 (God willing, since Baby 2 is due in early June. ) The basement which formerly provided privacy is now the nerve center of Steve’s podcast business.
They did 3 months with the other in-laws, then packed up, picked up, and joined Gramma Janet’s empty nest. I cleared closets for them, and they are right across the hall from me. We have settled into a rhythm, with very few hiccups. Of course, it’s hiccups that define parenting. I expect we will navigate them, one day at a time.
I marvel at their choreography. Pat has a start-up business and works 60+ hours a week. Rachel is an educational consultant to a group of bilingual Charter schools. Henry is 2.5 years of energy, curiosity and entertainment. With a life-affecting peanut and sesame seed allergy. They work in Chicago, commute, patch together child care, (it takes a Village) juggle meetings with every contractor in the galaxy, do homework, schedule couple and family time.
They have provided me with a later-in-life close up look at good parenting. Henry has healthy snacks and meals. Speaks Spanish. Goes on field trips. Views curated TV on the I Pad. Reads and recites books. Has imaginary planes, busses and friends. He attends playschool to prepare him for sharing. Bundles up for a fresh air adventure almost every day.
Gramma Kathy and Grampa Mike take him to singing and library dates. It is a whirlwind.
I am helping out, and thrilled to do it. This is a time in my life where I see myself getting set in my ways. This is a crash course in elasticity. With no basement to create play space, my family room and kitchen have morphed into Henry world. The dogs have gnawed on most of the wooden workbench pieces, (bad dogs) and they have learned to detour when a scooter/skateboard/plastic car goes by. A bookcase was salvaged for a reading corner. Vehicles are parked, a Step 2 Workbench (complete with shop vac) takes a space formerly occupied by a dog bed. It isn’t pretty, but it’s working out. The dogs are spending a great deal of time in exile, because Henry does not take kindly to dog hair. Who would? And they are glad to clean the area under Henry’s chair. When he figures out that he can clean his plate by spiritng scraps to them, I will have to banish them even more. When the cold snap abates, I will get Milly a shorter haircut. We all have to make adjustments, after all.
I have to say: God knew what he was doing when he gave kids to the young. After the eat/bathe/sing/read/cajole cycle, Pat and Rachel are tired, bone tired. They head to bed, monitor active, hopes for a good Henry sleep activated.
In sabbaticals past, I haunted the late night TV schedule. With junk food and wine.
Not this year. I am beat by 9, too.
SO: How in God’s name do Mommy Bloggers have the energy or the humor to open the computer and opine after stowing the troops?
I honor these stalwart chroniclers of domestic and maternal life, but I worry about them. I hope writing is cathartic and creative for them. I also hope that if they ever are miffed at a teacher/neighbor/mother-in-law/doctor- they pause and breathe. Close the laptop, pause or delete. Have a bath, a glass of wine and go to bed.
Because blogging leaves a permanent record. It is best used as a tool for good, not revenge. Or rage. Or scolding. Or missives to any of the aforementioned people. Especially Mothers in Law.
Of course, I would have been the bitch who published a Janifesto. Hell, maybe I did. I tried to keep a journal when the kids were young, but I lacked the discipline. Or energy. It turns out to be a very good thing; my parental failings and meltdowns dwell in unfocused memories, mine and the boys’. Not Word Press or a diary. I stand a chance in rebuttal to their claims of Mommy failings.
At any rate, perhaps you will be subjected to some Gramma Blogging. Because there are stories every day. I am blessed with 3 grand babies, plus the little girl on her way. My cup is overflowing, as they say. My home and wine glass are, too. I’ll share. And try not to get into trouble.
However, unless my 50 Plus vitamins kick in like speed, I wouldn’t expect any regularity. I’m not too old to bend and adapt, but I doubt if my lack of discipline will be evaporating. And us Grams need our duty sleep!
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