Before I comment, I want to point out that I’m one of the very lucky at-home parents with a daughter who takes three-hour naps every day, like clockwork. However, within that three hour period I try to do the following: update my blog, take an hour long stationary bike ride, prep for dinner, write in my journal, read, catch up on email, prepare for one of the meetings or classes I chair or teach, and (if there’s still time) nap. Today I’ve prepped for dinner and had lunch. I have one hour left. I haven’t written in my journal in days and the bike is calling, but so is the couch for a nice nap. The rain is falling hard outside the window and I think the couch has won. ZZZZZZZZZZ……
Staying home with a 22 month old feels like a constant job of catch up. I try to catch up with the dishes, catch up with email (and THIS BLOG!), catch up with folding laundry, catch up with small projects like recycling, gluing broken china, changing light bulbs, and of course there’s the constant catch up with cleaning up after my child. Although she loves the “clean up” song* and will do a pretty good job of cleaning up her stuff, she makes messes faster than she cleans them. Having a bi-weekly house cleaner ensures that the dust doesn’t pile up for longer than two weeks and forces me to make sure the entire house is clutter free before they get here. But as soon as they’re gone out come the crayons, chalk, books, and wooden blocks that create the ongoing obstacle course that is my house.
*Clean up Song: It turns out (from googling the song in hopes of finding a clip) that the one we know is the BARNEY clean up song! I thought by never having TV we’d avoid Barney — but no such luck. It’s a great song though, and it works!
Somehow my mother was able to raise four children, cook home cooked meals every night, fresh cookies when we came home from school, sew our clothes, make dolls to sell, and cook ten types of Christmas cookies, plus cakes, pies, and turkey with all the fixings. I always said I never wanted her life — but the thought of eating frozen dinners and store bought cookies depresses me.
For Hannukah I’ve made latkes, tabouleh, my mom’s special coffee cake, two types of cookies, (along with some other in- between meals) and already I’m exhausted. I haven’t written in my blog for months as we’ve painted the family room, ripped out and replaced carpet, and put the garden to bed for the winter. And our 20 month old daughter is enthusiastically into everything and couldn’t be more fun — but I could use more sleep.
We recently decided to pay for house cleaning. As I stare at the pile of dirty dishesn from the cookies I made today, I think I could use a “scullery maid” of sorts as well, (no derision intended). And while I’m at it, maybe a vegan personal chef!
It’s interesting that the Roslindale Board of Trade meeting was held last week at Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain. Why didn’t they hold their meeting in Roslindale, considering their interest in supporting small businesses? Probably because there is no place like Doyles in Roslindale. It seems like every new restaurant is another upscale “bistro,” without the character or simple festive food of Doyle’s.
According the the Board of Trade’s website, it’s purpose is “to better the community through commerce.” I say that if they can’t have their meetings at any of the restaurants in Roslindale, they should encourage a restaurant like Doyles to come here. We would all benefit.
For those who are interested, here are 6 photos of how my garden did this year. This first photo is a close up of my fountain ($20 for a pump placed in a bird bath — DIVINE!). I highly recommend fountains to everyone.
I was happiest with my watermelon (which was planted as an afterthought). I had run out of fresh cultivated soil but still had some watermelon seeds. I tucked them in among the perennials and they really took off! The one in the photo is about the size of a large grapefruit. It tasted delicious!
The Bean Harp didn’t do so well. Peas grew on it, and a grape vine (photo below), but the beans never really took off.
I think the reason the Harp didn’t do so well was because the trees I cut to make the Harp refused to die and kept sending off shoots like this one:
Finally, I was happy with my basil and cherry tomatoes — easy to grow and tasty!
It’s hard to believe that the world would be a better place if all parents worked outside the home and left their children in childcare. Having the privilege to spend my days with my child, I get the privilege of viewing the world through her eyes and I believe this helps to remind me of how sacred every little thing is. I’m constantly amazed by the pleasure my daughter takes in the smallest things and I love her games and her newfound language. Most adults, including myself, have forgotten what it means to play. My daughter is teaching me to have more fun doing nothing and to laugh at silly things. If more of us could do this, I believe the world would be a better place.
This week I had the pleasure of having 2 visitors, Esther’s cousins, 4 and 2 1/2 years old. Having three kids was total chaos but also exhilarating! When they left this morning, I experienced the same sadness I remember when I would be left off for the plane or bus going back to college when my younger siblings were still at home. The profound quiet following constant chaos is quite sad, actually. There is a certain adrenaline rush that goes with juggling multiple children of different ages, not unlike the high after an arduous group bike ride or a night of constant emergency as a hospital chaplain. (After a summer of chaplaincy training at Mass General 1998 (99?) I could see the allure of being an emergency room doctor or nurse or an EMT.) Pushing beyond your limits is fun!
Of course it was also nice to pass my neices back to their grandparents this morning and have some time to sit down with my blog, but I must remember the high they gave me. It’s easy to say those parents with lots of kids must be crazy, but maybe, just maybe, the joys really do outweigh the difficulties.
Our housemate Lauren just came up from the basement saying she saw a bird or a bat. It was a bat. But how did it get in? I’ve been wishing for bats to come and eat the mosquitos and I imagined putting up a bat house somewhere in our yard. Yet somehow a bat decided the basement would be a good place to be. I guess I’d better be careful what I wish for. Eventually the bat went outside. It’s welcome to hang around as long as it doesn’t “hang” in the house.
Just when I think I have time to write a brief entry into my blog, I hear a little voice on the monitor as Esther wakes from her nap. I was expecting her to sleep another 1/2 hour. For those of you wondering why I don’t blog more, here’s why: Babies don’t ever behave as we wish they would and they get in the way of our “adult work.” They are new human beings doing just as they are intended to. That is, reminding their parents that when you’re a parent your life is not your own. Waking, sleeping, reading, writing, exercising, eating, and more must happen when baby is not in need of care. Fortunately, Esther wakes up slowly, chatting with “Bear” and “Cowbunny” for a few minutes before she started calling for mom. Oh…. there she goes! Maaaaammmmmmmaaaaa!
Parenting teaches patience, or so I’ve been told. But gardening seems to be a better teacher. Every day I go out and look at my garden to see what is new. I thrill at the new buds, leaves, and flowers. But I also find myself wishing certain things were farther along. I end up pruning at inappropriate times, overwatering, and picking unripe strawberries. Gardening is an art form. Letting the garden come into its own is a lot like trusting that our children will come out ok if we do our best (hopefully even if we don’t). Yet, even now, at 5:00 a.m. in the pouring rain, I’m wishing the rain would stop so I can get my hands dirty. Patience, Rachele, Patience!