Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunday dinner breakdown

This past weekend was one day too long. Normally, I really like a three day weekend. I like the freedom of no set schedule, especially in the cold winter months. It's an easy excuse to stay in, wrap up tight in blankets, and watch movies. I always feel guilty being indoors when the sun is out. But when the temperature dips below 30 degrees, the guilt vanishes. 

This weekend was long though. All the girls were really starting to get on my nerves, and so was David. I love them, I do, but by day 3 I am kind of done. I like to get up and have my coffee, and sit and check email etc.. and when he is here, guess who is sitting in my usual coffee drinking, email checking, spot? You guessed it. And I have to wait my turn. I do try and hide my irritation, but after a while, I just sort of give up.

Money is in real short supplies this week, and a few things, which I won't bore you about here, reared their ugly heads this weekend, and caused my stress level to go beyond it's usual simmer, to an all out boil over. I simply felt consumed with worry and stress. I found every conversation between the girls and I, was them talking, and me half listening. David was stressed as well, and when we both are in similar mindsets, it just never really works. We have never come together during stress. Instead, we separate. Believe me, I know this is awful. "In good times and bad", right? But it isn't always that easy. 

To get my mind off of things, I threw myself into making a turkey dinner Sunday night. David had gotten a free turkey at Christmas time at work. It had been sitting in the freezer, and I pulled it out last week, envisioning a cozy Sunday night turkey dinner, complete with all the trimmings. It all was going along smoothly, actually. I had made my own stuffing, and mashed potatoes. The gravy was almost done, and the broccoli was roasting in the oven. I was even spooning the cranberry sauce into a bowl, when David started cleaning the roasting pan. When he went to put it back on it's shelf, beneath our butcher block, there was an incredible crash. I knew what it was before I even turned around.

Sharing that shelf with the roasting pan, were a stack of bowls that I loved, nestled into a wooden salad bowl. One of those bowls was my Nanny's glass Pyrex bowl. I loved that bowl. After she had died, I took it from her house before it was emptied. The house had been sold, and whatever was left that my Mom and her sister didn't remove, was garbage. The bowl was scratched. You could tell it was an electric mixer that had left the damage, most likely preparing the chocolate mousse Nanny brought to every holiday, no matter if my mom insisted her not bring a thing. She always brought it along. I can still see her walking up the brick walk to the door, cigarette dangling from her lips, and glasses on the end of her nose, clutching that glass bowl, covered in layers upon layers of tin foil. 

I loved serving things out of that bowl, and often wondered when my Nanny had gotten it. But there it was, shattered into a million pieces, some as small as a grain of sand, all over the slate kitchen floor. I backed up, and bumped right into a large glass of water I had been drinking, and that hit the floor. My gravy started to bubble up, and I could smell the broccoli beginning to burn. David yelled for everyone to get away, and was cursing under his breath. In that moment, I wanted to throw the pot of gravy into the sink, and run out of the room. The bowl, my Nanny's bowl, was gone. A little piece of her.

Stress can really get to you. It can turn the minutia of the day, into a fever pitch that it doesn't need to be. That one accident caused me to snap. I was mad. I was tired of set back after set back, after working so hard, and once again, moving three steps back. It wasn't the bowl. And the dinner wasn't all that great. It was everything coming back to me in a rush, and there it was, piled on the kitchen floor in a jagged heap.

Some days, doing something normal, and trying to push worries aside to just enjoy a Sunday meal can prove futile. Some days, all it takes is Nanny's chocolate mousse bowl to turn to dust on the floor, to snap you back into your worries.

After dinner, Molly climbed up on my lap, and cupped my face in her tiny hands, and said, "Are you OK Mommy?" I smiled and said I was.

 I have to be, right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dream realized

In the backyard of the house I grew up in was a massive weeping willow tree. It was humongous. My Mom said she planted it when they first moved into the house, but I never quite believed her, because it seemed like it had been there for a hundred years. To my 5 year old eyes it seemed gigantic.

The trunk of the tree was really wide. I remember the roots were so long, and spread out beneath the tree far into the yard, because I had memorized where not to run when playing on the grass. Too many trips and falls from knobs of wood protruding out of the ground made for quick lessons. 

The trunk divided into two smaller trunks, almost making a perfect Y. It was in this Y I envisioned a tree house. In my minds eye, I had the perfect yellow curtains for the small glass paned windows that I wanted there. A Dutch door was to be the entryway, and I just knew there would be enough room for my small play kitchen to be hoisted up, and placed in it, enabling me to create wonderful meals. I knew that my big sisters Girl Scout camping set would be perfect to use in the house. Durable outdoor pots and pans. My good stuff would have to stay indoors. 

I wanted a bucket to bring things up and down in, and really hoped we had enough extension cords to extend from the house, across the patio, through the minefield of roots, and grass, and up into the house. A lamp would make it so cozy, and maybe, I could even sleep in it. My own little house.

My Dad listened to my dream, and when the words, "I'll build you a tree house" came off of his lips, I nearly passed out. I recall a few books he took out of the library with plans in them. One of the books featured an A frame style house. In a tree! I couldn't believe my eyes! This was going to be amazing. Some nights, I could hardly sleep thinking about my house.

When construction began, I helped by passing nails, and quickly learned the difference between a Flathead and a Phillips head. My Dad made some sort of base. A platform of sorts. He worked really hard on it, and then he made a ladder, to get to it. I remember him cleaning up, and putting everything away, and asking me if I liked it. I also remember thinking, where were my walls, and roof, and dutch door, and double hung windows?

I climbed the ladder, and shimmied myself up onto the platform. The weeping willow branches and leaves were so long, that they dragged on the ground, and you had to part them like a curtain to get through them. I remember hearing the breeze blowing through the long weepy branches, and thought how amazing my roof was. I had a secret little hideaway, tucked into the crux of a magnificent, strong tree. 

My mom came out and handed me my teddy bear picnic plastic basket, complete with a bear thermos with milk in it, and a sandwich, tucked into a red and white gingham napkin. I sat under the shade of my tree and marveled at my new tree house. 

It wasn't quite what I had envisioned.

 It was better.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Last week, I had to go to the grocery store. It was Saturday, and I had to get something for dinner, and David had taken the girls to an early matinee (the cheap one!) so it was just Molly and I. 

As we got out of the car together, and I took her hand in mine, as I always do in a parking lot, I heard across the way, a string of angry profanities. A man was yelling. Really screaming, some of the most obscene things I have ever heard. The F word was used over and over, and he was screaming what an awful" Fu@%*&^  Bit%!*" someone was.

 I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was appalled. I thought he was yelling at another man, as I saw another person standing a bit away from the car. It was as if he was giving the man who was screaming some space. I then thought that he could be possibly yelling at a woman, maybe his wife or girlfriend. I shuddered to think of any person, saying what I was hearing, to another. It was unreal. 

I hurried Molly along, and spoke louder, and pointed out things to her, so she wouldn't hear the obscenities. It was then, as I neared the car, I saw who this "man" was yelling at. 

It was a small boy. No older than my Molly, who will proudly tell you she is 3 1/2.(That 1/2 is huge you know.)

This man was shouting words to a child that no grown adult should ever have to endure. But here it was happening, right in the parking lot of ShopRite. My first impulse was to cross the street and stop him. Maybe appeal to him that he needed to cool down, and walk away from the small boy, and think about what he was saying. But I glanced at the other man, who was clearly with them, and he quickly caught my gaze, and just as fast, looked away. 

My heart was pounding. I thought that this crazy man sounded like he was escalating, and he was going to hit the boy. I knew that if he laid a hand on him, I would call the police. So, I  walked just a bit slower, watching carefully to make sure he didn't put his hands on the boy. His screams were so loud, and so scary, even to me. I can't imagine how scary it sounded for that poor little guy. I thought to myself that if this is how the man behaves in public, and apparently speaks to children, what must he be like in the privacy of his home. 

What I did next has haunted me this entire week. I keep going over it in my mind, and I don't think that I had many options. I do thank God David wasn't with me, because I  know for a fact the outcome would have been very different. He would have made a beeline across the street, and I know what would have happened after that. 

What I did was nothing. I scooped Molly up, and hurried out of the frigid air, and "minded my own business". I thought that if I called 911, what could be done? Could he be arrested for cursing and screaming at a child? I also was frightened of this monster of a man, and his "friend". What could I, along with my own small child in tow, have done? I was too scared to speak up for the small boy. Me, the adult, let it happen.

I saw them a bit later, as I was choosing pears. The two men were being loud, laughing, and joking around with one another, as if nothing had just taken place moments before. I wanted to say something. I felt compelled to throw the fruit at him. I wanted to tell him that I heard every despicable word he had said. I looked at the small little boy, sitting up straight in the front of the cart, and I wanted to ask him if he was OK. 

But I didn't.

 I didn't do anything, but hug Molly tight, and whisper to her that I loved her. 

The feeling of failing that little boy has still not left me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking over my shoulder

David brought up all of the boxes from the basement, that hold all of our Christmas decorations. Back into the boxes they will all go, until next year. Getting the lights off the tree and pushing the drying beast out the sliding glass door, onto the deck, where it will sit, and ice over, for probably a week, until we dispose of it, or chop it up, and burn it next summer in our chiminea ought to take up a good portion of my afternoon today.

 The needles left everywhere will also have me vacuuming most of the day, as well as the glitter, and confetti left over from New Years Eve. Normally I vacuum my floors every other day, if not every day. With everyone home for the last week, and kids dressing and undressing from playing in the snow, and the holidays, with all of it's floors are not good. If you walk barefoot, sparkles, pine needles, and dust bunnies begin to stick to the bottom of your feet. If you wear socks, well...that's not very pretty either. I have been keeping my shoes on. 

De-Christmas-ing usually leads to purging, and neatening up around these here parts. My already cluttered house looks a bit less uncluttered once all of the decorations are gone. Don't get me wrong...I love the holidays, and all that they bring. This past Christmas was really nice, and I enjoyed most of it. 

But there is something so nice about getting "back to normal". Even my girls were happy to wake up, eat their breakfasts, and hop on the bus. Charlotte happily woke up to a visit from the tooth fairy...(thank heavens I remembered, as I was watching House Hunters much past my bedtime, and sprang into action!) Even Olivia said that the break was starting to confuse her. She didn't like the schedule of no schedule. She said that the last few days, she just didn't know what to do with herself, and was happy to return to her predictable day. (Quite honestly, I think she got tired of me finding chores to busy her hours.)

Molly is happy too. She likes the ride to the bus stop in the morning, and seeing her sisters off. She knows that when we get home, Sesame Street is still on, and it is time for her breakfast. She likes her bagel with cream cheese, but I have begun to realize that it is only the cream cheese she likes, and the bagel is just a vehicle to get it into her mouth. 

Today, she will help me clean up around here. Just her and I. She will interrogate me about what I am cooking for dinner. She starts to miss her sisters after lunch, and normally asks when it is time to go get them from the bus stop. We have our own little daily grind here, she and I. I know it won't be like this forever, and although some days, the predictability of it bores me, and the household chores makes me feel like I am running in a hamster wheel, I also know I will long for it when it inevitably morphs into something else. 

Nothing remains the same. It is all ever changing. Years of ornaments will go back into the dark basement, joined by new additions from this season, to our ever growing collection, representing years gone by. Like the rings of a tree, slowly moving and changing. 

Daily life, has such a false sense of permanence. Some days, it feels like we are at a stand still, going nowhere.

 Yet slowly, ever slowly, we are most certainly moving forward.