Monday, September 23, 2013

Time for a Work Party!

Hey Peeps—

I know it seems all I ever talk about is the glamorous life we lead, what with frozen pizza, Billy's custom tee shirts, and weekend trips to Cheyenne, WY.  Once again, if you've got nothing better to do, I'd like to share what a recent Saturday looked like at our house. The morning was spent with some young friends of ours, in love, and moving in the direction of marital bliss.  Over muffins and scones, we asked them questions about what it means to be committed, and how they resolve conflict.  Billy was discreetly taking notes, so we could work on some of our own issues, as I peppered them with the same stuff people asked us before we got married 17 years ago. 

The kids were in heaven while our friends were visiting, for it meant no Saturday morning chores.  And then our friends left.  The children looked at each other startled and dazed, like the time our cat Nacho proudly brought them a dead bunny. Unfortunately their "free day bubble" was about to burst abruptly, spurting angry little faces all over our house that were going to be cleaned up with a "work party".  Not everyone knows what a "work party" is, in fact, I bet no one besides my family of origin does, considering my dad is the one who coined the phrase, and while it was catchy in the 80's, it never seemed to take off anywhere else but in his head. 

Billy and I enthusiastically laid out the chore list, and told the kids to get gloves from the garage, and put on sneakers.  This was going to be a real workday, not one of those Saturdays where all you do is clean the sliding glass door and throw away dead frogs from your aquarium.  Nope, we had a lot to do, and there was going to be no room for complaining.  The mandate of "no complaining" would prove to be difficult for Jack as he'd gone to bed at 4:30 am, because someone (rhymes with Milly) let Jack and his buddy Ben, play Halo 4 all night long in our living room.  No complaining would also test the merit of our daughter Faith, as she believes wholeheartedly girls were not created to do manual labor. 

We gathered supplies and set about our tasks.  Billy went straight to the garage, as that's been on his list since 2007.  The kids and I tackled the side of the house, breaking up sticks to burn in the fireplace on cold winter nights. After that task was done, we took on the weeds.  While Jack was going on and on, talking about what we were going to have to do next, I noticed Faith moving rather slowly.  After speaking a little too harshly about being faster, she asked for a drink of water.  It was hot out, and she is prone to faint, so naturally I told her to go get a water bottle.  Billy found her in the kitchen ten minutes later with neither water, nor a bottle.  At this point she enjoyed an impromptu lecture given by Billy called, "Moving with purpose".  I so wished I'd known he was speaking on that topic, because I would have sent Jack in from the backyard to listen.  His stream of consciousness may have impressed Freud, but it was about to drive me crazy. 

Right about the time Jack was asking me why weeds grow, I moved to another part of the yard with my youngest child Will.  He and I took on the task of filling a garbage bag full of dead branches from our lilac bushes.  We worked quickly, and while Will is chatty like his brother Jack, he somehow seems to have mastered working WHILE talking.  And what's more surprising is Will likes to work.  He always has.  The child is most content when he has a job to do.  At one point I swear to you he said, "Thanks mom for letting us work today".  I so wished I had an acre of land he could toil.  We'd never have to buy tomatoes again. 

There may not seem to be anything noteworthy about a day of chores with our children.  It was pretty much what you'd expect: complaints about being hot and tired, and eventually watching them function together to get a job done. We believe there's value in learning how to contribute to the world, and our hope is as they grow up with a work ethic they'll develop ambition to go and do something great with their lives. Getting past the initial grumbling tested my integrity as a mother. This kind of day isn't easy, but it's the kind of day that builds character not only in our kids, but in us parents as well. And by the end of the day, there was laughing and enthusiasm for what was next, and all three kids carried themselves with a sense of accomplishment.  The weed-free grass and clean garage may not last for long, but learning how to help carry each other's burden, well, that might just be eternal.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wingin' It

Hey Peeps—

Some of you are very judgmental.  Some of you are going to think I am a horrible mother.  Others of you have already decided I am horrible based on past disclosures.  Whatever.  The point is I fed my children frozen pizza last night for dinner.  With plain old NON organic milk.  To my credit, I also put out some carrots. I was pleased with myself until Will reminded me he couldn't eat raw carrots due to his new braces.  What can I say?  During the craziness of weeknights, we are doing good to remember dinner at all.  ( Please don't ask Faith about last Wednesday.  I really don't need anyone reminding her that I forgot to feed her).

While the three children ate dinner, Jack said to me, "Mom, you could totally be a single parent.  You make the frozen pizza just right.  Dad could never be a single dad.  His frozen pizza always tastes weird".  I was surprised for two reasons.  1. I didn’t know it was possible to mess up frozen pizza 2. I hadn't known I was being observed for my single parenting skills.   Next time I'm being watched I might just tidy up my hair a bit more, or throw on a bra. 

I guess the kids were just impressed that I was able to bring home the bacon, pick them up from school, stop by Target on the way home for groceries, and then fry it up in a pan, while reading Monday folders, and checking homework.  It's official.  I am a working mother.  And this week, Billy's at a nerd convention so I'm sort of winging it on my own. 

The kids aren't used to only one parent bossing them around, as Billy generally works from home.  We're pretty much bossing all three of them around together all the time.  Sometimes though, when I really need to, I kick Billy out, and make him go to his office.  This always takes the children aback when they come home from school and he's not home too. They'll ask, "Mom, did you make daddy go to the office?  Was he not wearing pants in the basement again?"  That's one reason, but normally, if I kick him out, it's only because I need a little alone time, now that I work outside the home.  So this week is an adjustment for all of us, not having Billy here to make my coffee and ruin the kids frozen pizza. 

I'm not sure what Billy's been doing for four days down in Denver, but he told me it had something to do with apps.  Before he came home the first night, I was impatiently looking forward to him bringing home a variety of treats from his long day.   I'd misunderstood him, and thought "apps" was short for appetizers.  Turns out, "apps" is something you do on a phone or mobile device.  I don't have apps on my phone, much to his chagrin, but he likes them and uses them, and I guess he's even written a few of them himself.  And for a few days, a bunch of guys who we like to call "mouth breathers" have gathered in Denver to talk about apps all day long.  Honestly, I can't imagine anything worse.  Except maybe watching a hairless cat throw up a wad of grass.  

Billy and I are so different.  He was practically giddy about what sessions he was going to attend all week. He couldn't decide which instructors he would try to meet, and on the third morning, he proudly wore the new tee shirt he'd received from day 2 of the convention.  It said, "Nerd Power" or something like that, and had a picture of a keyboard on the front.  It was so wrong, it almost made me wish he'd worn his Mr. T tee shirt instead.  But the point is Billy loves to learn and enlighten himself, while I'd rather paint a room, or organize the basement.  Billy considers this kind of a week one of the highlights of his life, while I look at being forced to learn more like going to prison for several hours a day.  And not the good kind of prison either, where they watch t.v. and sit outside in the sun all day. 

I'm a strong believer in God, and when I think of how God placed Billy and I together, it only confirms His intelligent Design. If our kids only had me, they'd turn out obsessive compulsive, with no exposure to the arts or any cultures outside of Colorado.  If our kids only had Billy, our children would grow up in a petri dish of filth, and possibly become immune to disease.  Also, while they'd be creative, musical, and artistic, there's a strong likelihood they'd be cynical about reality t.v. and have no organizational skills whatsoever.  The bottom line is God saw fit help a couple idiots fall in love, and this girl is beyond thankful.   I salute you single parents who face each day with tenacity and grace.  Your resolute determination to raise your children well, inspires me to persevere.  Hold fast, keep your faith.  And don't feel bad when all you can muster up is some frozen pizza.