They are Both So Beautiful Girls

(from the very interesting blog, http://www.buckbokai.com)

I’m blogging infrequently not because I’m participating in NaNoWrMo (is that how you spell it?)–I’m not. I’m blogging less because right now, there are so many things competing for my two most marketable commodities, 1.time, and 2.the ability to have things not die on my watch.

Although my plants would argue about commodity #2, if they weren’t shriveled, blackened versions of their once plumply-chlorophylled selves that looked out eagerly from the shelves at Lowe’s at all the possibilities open to them. If they had known better, they would have screamed to be spared when I put them in my shopping cart beside Mbot and Gbot. For all I know, they were screaming, but their plantly pleas were overwhelmed by whatever bottish conversation/bickering was already occurring in the cart.

I plead guilty to the murder of two fine plants that had not wronged me in any way.

I am starting to feel like my writing is wizzling, too.

Yesterday when I might have been writing, I was installing pull-out bins in the kitchen cabinets so I can finally organize the kitchen and get all my paperwork off the counter. One can only ignore such an ungodly mess for so long (a year). My friend Solveig, visiting from Colorado, helped enormously by not only ripping out the original crappy shelving, but by playing a game with the bots called “Who can stay out of the kitchen the best?”

Tuesday, when I might have been writing, I was doing fifty-three administrative tasks related to my volunteer work as caregiver, teacher, peacekeeper, entertainer, home manager, laundress, sous chef, chef, dessert chef, server, busser (although the bots are junior bussers now), interior designer, social secretary, event organizer, correspondent, and chauffeur.

Then I was attempting to keep my children from ransacking the child-free home of the very nice child-free friends of Solveig’s, with whom we were watching the election returns. Or rather, Solveig and the very nice child-free friends were watching the election returns. I was watching to make sure the bots didn’t launch themselves through the very nice plate glass window as a result of jumping on the supersized beanbag chair. What? Huh? Who won? The candidate campaigning on the platform of subsidized childcare? What do you mean, there isn’t one???

Monday, as Solveig watched the bots at home, I was sitting in the Barnes and Noble, telling myself I should be writing. Instead I slouched in a stupor in the children’s book section, reading picture books. The kid’s book section–when I am there by myself–is one of my go-to recharging stations.

It is a challenge finding the necessary combination of time and energy to complete any task larger than emptying a loaded diaper or laundry basket. (And even then, the towels get left in the dryer overnight by mistake…when will I get around to hanging that clothes line in the garage? Oh right–right after I put up the shelving in the garage….)

It is not that I dislike any of the tasks I am called upon to complete. (Well, anyone interested in doing just dishes, laundry, mopping, sliding bin installation, and plant watering, please call, I am hiring.) It is simply that there is such a vast accumulation of tasks, that I find it difficult to complete them, and my writing projects, too.

Do I want to play with the bots? Yes. Do I want to cook a lovely dinner? Yes. Do I want to sew Junepbear a fluffy sweatsuit out of fabric Mbot picked out himself, because Junepbear sports more and more unfluffy spots these days? Yes. Do I want to paint a mural in the bots’ room? Sit in a quiet room by myself with books and a computer? Get on a bike and sweat for an hour? Start teaching at the college level again? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Do I want to clean the litter box? Actually, yes. But what do I need to do? For my family and for myself? The need to prioritize wisely–and reap contentedness from my choices–has never been so urgent.

I am working on solutions. One is as simple as leaving the YMCA and joining, for $11 more per month, a gym that has educational computer games in the childcare area, which is open all day, as opposed to the one at the Y which, as fun as Gbot finds it, is closed during the critical hours of one to three. If I took advantage of this service, I could get up to two hours per day to either write or ride, work or workout, while the bots are in good hands. It’s a start.

I am trying not to feel guilty about this decision, and to understand the roots of the guilt. Guilt rarely has roots in logic or rationality. I just started reading Pamela Druckerman’s bestselling mommy memoir, Bringing up Bebe, about the differences in American and French parenting–and so am trying to open myself up to “there are many ways to raise a child right,” and, “as long as I am worried I am not doing a good job, I am probably doing a good job,” and, “I need to be healthy and happy to help raise children who are healthy and happy.”

Finding myself with so many things I want and need to do, I feel a little like Mbot must have yesterday at snack time. On the drive home from school, I asked him who he’d had snack with–his friend Mbug? Obot? Hbug?

“Oh, by myself,” was the answer.

“Why, Potato Sweet?” I asked.

He shrugged, raising his hands in the air, both palms up. “Well, Mbug and Hbug are both so beautiful girls, I just can’t pick.”

Hiding my smile–he just turned four! It starts so early–I explained that he could sit with Mbug one day, and Hbug the next, and be friends with both.

There is not a lot of time for introspection these days, and so I will leave it at this: I may not be able to do everything on my list. But I need to be friends with my achievements, and friends with my expectations, too.

I think this means I need to stop buying house plants.

I Gleefully Accept the Liebster Award Even As My Pergo Is Being Laid Crosswise

Thank you, SoapfisMom, for nominating me for the Liebster Award two weeks ago. You and your bot provide endless entertainment, and it is gratifying to know that my stories of chaos are also entertaining an audience, too, even if its an audience of under 200 followers. Such are the rules of accepting the award, and I fall squarely into that category. The rules indicate that I link back to my nominator, Soapfi’s Mom at Soapfiandotherstuff.wordpress.com, and must invite five other bloggers to join me in Liebsterland (not to be confused with Lobsterland, of which David Foster Wallace surely would not have approved, unless it was a no-kill shelter for crustaceans). I will name them below although I am unsure of their follower numbers. (The Liebsters, not the lobsters.)

I would have announced the award earlier, but springtime has brought an increased sense of racing on a treadmill set to go just faster than I can run. I’ve managed to keep the bots, myself, the dog, and the cat alive, but I usually feel like I’ve been tossed off the back of the treadmill and landed with a belly flop on the gym floor.

The proof is that the carpet is dead.

The late carpet inhabited in the bot’s room. June, the puppy who I rescued from a no-kill shelter ten years ago, who wasn’t quite potty trained, is now the eleven year-old dog who isn’t quite potty trained. And she decided a while back that the finest spot on the earth to pee was in Mbot’s room. And then, in a rare moment of inter-species cooperation, the antique cat decided she was right.

The carpet passed away in spite of liberal use of Nature’s Miracle and the friendly neighborhood Chem-Dry men.

Pergo looked like the most practical option. The price per square foot’s not bad, but labor more than doubles the cost. Husbot said, “Not this month. Preferably, not this year.”

I mentioned the alternative: ripping up the carpet and emptying fifty boxes of kitty litter onto the floor. The bots would love having their whole bedroom turned into a sandbox.

This kitty bears a spooky resemblance to the Antique Cat. Has he been peeing in the bots' room, too? (tango-beat.blogspot.com)

Twenty-four hours later, in a surprise move from left field, Husbot had ripped up the carpet, pulled out the tacks, scraped the concrete, and actually disposed of everything. I went to Lowe’s to pick out the exact product that I’d envisioned (the cheap stuff that still looked good). It wasn’t in stock, so I got my second choice. I enjoyed envisioning the new look, with the pale Beech finish brightening the small room and the long faux-planks of the laminate flooring stretching from the door to the opposite wall to visually enlarge the room.

The next day was Tuesday. Our fabulous neighbor, Mr. Jeff, who has come to my rescue at least once before when I was Locked Out, Braless, On a Monday Morning, agreed to install it with Husbot as his man Friday. The weebots and I were evicted from the premises at 8 a.m.

We’d have retreated to Grandma’s, but Grandma’d had a tooth pulled that morning. We were on our own.

We ventured to a park that we don’t normally go to, due to the presence of a duck pond Mbot fell into last summer and my desire to avoid a drippy sequel. We rode bikes. We played on unfamiliar and therefore thrilling playground equipment. We swang for a long, long, long time. We sang while we swang:

Who comes back,

Gbot comes back,

Gbot comes back to me.

He swings in the sky so high, oh my!

But he always comes back, you’ll see….

Gbot: “Sing the Gbot comes back song again!”

We did this thirty times.

We fed the ducks. Our feet stayed on the ground. Gbot decided to ride his bike to the other end of the pond, fast, all by himself. In spite of my bellowing with my Mommy Voice. Gbot did not, in fact, come back.

Fastforwarding past the traumatic retrieval and reprimand, we went to the Y, where the bots played for thirty-six minutes while I plodded for twenty-four minutes onto a low endorphin plateau via the treadmill (set to “crawl”.) The endorphins may be the only reason I made it to my martini eight hours later, after dropping Mbot at school, driving Gbot around waiting for a nap that wouldn’t come, working on my computer via the wifi in the Starbucks parking lot when the nap finally did come, picking up Mbot, and going to the aquarium and zoo for the final two hours of our lockout.

Exhausted and hot, we finally arrived home. The house was empty and the floor was in and beautiful and….crosswise.

I hadn’t mentioned the orientation of the planks because it had never occurred to me that someone might lay it crosswise.

The destruction of an assumption is always so shocking because it shows you (yet again) that the place where your imagination and your reality intersect is about the size of a breadcrumb floating on a pond.

But it looks clean. It smells clean. It is clean.

And I am still exhausted from the day.

Here is my one (sorry, pathetic, I know) nomination for inductees into Liebsterland. The remaining four must wait until I scrape myself up off the floor.

Rebecca Lerner’s firstways.com, a blog about urban foraging which probably has well over 200 followers. But still, this is an awesome blog about learning about the earth and sustainable living, which I appreciate as a mom with bots whom I’d like to be able to teach the difference between a good plant and a bad plant. (And also as a mom who just had Pergo installed. Even laid crossways, it’s 100% recycled.)