Friday, January 22, 2010

Steve Martin, Styrofoam Peanuts...Invaluable Life Lessons

It's Friday. Thank heavens it's Friday.
(also once I get my act back together I'll get back to Friday Freebies if anyone is still interested in doing that. Anyone?)

Aside from the fact that Friday is just a good day in and of itself (who doesn't like Friday?!), this Friday is particularly welcome as it means that we have endured the first week of the new life. My husband has been gone from 5:30am until 11:00 each night this week. The kids have not seen him since Sunday night. We get about 15-20 minutes together each night before he crashes. hard. Actually last night we got almost 45 minutes together because he made it home early-at 10:30. It was wonderful.

So what does this have to do with Steve Martin? Or styrofoam peanuts for that matter?

I'm getting there.

This week aside from the adjustment of not having a husband at home, I have also had more work that usual to get done. I do some work from home part time, and usually I keep it for the night after the kids are in bed. That way I can put in a few hours and not consume my days. Usually I have the help of my husband, so we crank right along at a good pace and get the bonus of a few uninterrupted hours together. It's no hot date, but hey, I'll take time with him whenever I can get it! Since his help has obviously not been available this week, and I obviously work more slowly alone than the two of us together, I have had to resort to working during the day. While I get some things done, my productivity level is much lower while also wrangling 3 kids and two dogs, as well as trying to get anything around the house done. This has translated into around 8-10hrs each day spent working. Not fun. For me or the kids. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the work, just feeling stretched a little too thin.

Mom stretched very thin + Dad gone +7 kids + homework, cub scouts, girl scouts, Activity Days, basketball practice, church meetings, laundry, dishes, and all those other things that are life right now = Me being not the kind of mom I want to be. At all.

I have been short on patience, horrible at getting my kids a real dinner (only twice this week-sad), seriously behind in keeping up with the house, tired, ornery...... *sigh*.....I think you get the idea.

Enter Steve Martin.

I love Steve Martin. How can you not? Give me a Steve Martin movie and I will soon be laughing.

Yesterday while I was working my boys sat next to me watching a movie. Their movie of choice was Cheaper by the Dozen.
I love this movie for a number of reasons. First, Steve Martin. I believe we've covered that, thank you. Also, how can you not love Bonnie Hunt? She's just cute. And then there is the family factor. While I do not have a dozen of my own, just seven so far, big families are a rarity. They are complained about, looked down upon, and chided by much of the world. Even here in Happy Valley where having a large family is more the norm than anywhere else I know of, I have had horribly rude comments about having more than the average number of children. (note to naysayers: When you are paying my grocery bill and doing my laundry, then you can think about commenting) To see a movie that portrayed the ups and downs of a large family, in an uplifting way, and focused more on the ups than the downs, thrilled me. It still does. Every time I watch the movie I laugh. Most of the times I watch the movie I cry-sometimes at things that were meant to be laughed at. But more than anything, I appreciate the chaos.

Yesterday while watching the movie I was particularly struck by the scene where the kids are playing "Apple Schmear" with dad. They are pitching apples at him and he is hitting them with a tennis racquet. It's messy. There's really no point to it. But they are having fun.

Not long after that scene comes a point when the entire mood of the family changes. Dad is busy with work, Mom is out of town, and everything is falling apart. Suddenly Dad isn't fun anymore, just short-tempered, irritable and overwhelmed.

And I saw myself.

Not just for this week; I realized that I've let myself become that with everything that has gone on over the past couple of months, but obviously this week has kind of been a pinnacle in that. I've worried about me, what I need to get done, how much I'm not getting done, and completely dismissed how our current changes in life, and my attitude, have been affecting my kids.

That's not what I want.

So today is different. I want to be me again.

Thankfully yesterday I finished up all the work that needed to be done, so today, no work.

I have forgotten how much I love what I do. The reasons I chose, and the reasons that we have sacrificed, to be a stay at home mom.

Today the dishes are done. That will only last for 16.3 seconds, but it's ok.
Laundry is getting done. See above duration, but again, ok.
My room is clean. (That had better last at least a day)

And I played with my kids.

We threw random fruits in the blender and made smoothies.

We talked. Well, they talked, I really did more listening. A 3yr old and 4yr old have all sorts of things to say.

Did you know that a small box of styrofoam packing peanuts will provide over an hour of play?

And the bubble wrap was just icing on the cake.

I ate lunch with them instead of intermittently taking bites while getting something done.

I want to be the parent who plays "Apple Schmear".

Who spends more time reading stories than lecturing about chore charts.

Sure things need to get done, but I've focused so much on that that I have forgotten to do many of the more important things.

Years ago I was the kind of mom that I always want to be. Today I got back to that. I have missed it.

Lest you get any strange ideas, no, the rest of the day wasn't all fun. There were tantrums, arguments between kids over pointless things, complaining about chores, and even a couple of time outs. Bedtime was a hassle, the washer and dryer are both still running (with no end in sight) and no matter how many times I have helped Charlotte back to sleep (not usually needed), she wakes back up crying. I still have two more hours until I get my husband back and I miss him desperately. But I am glad for a step in the right direction today-even if it was a small one.

So here's to Steve Martin and Styrofoam Peanuts. And may the little bits of those foam peanuts that will inevitably be found around the house for the next 5 years remind me that sometimes playing a game of "Apple Schmear" is the most important work to be done.



Lisa said...

I'm glad that you could get back to what makes you happy. You are an awesome momma! Stay strong!

Kelsey said...

that dress looks super cute on Charlie!! Sorry, wished you lived closer and I could help. We'll come out soon.
I'm sure gooers had tons of fun with the peanuts. Makes my teeth hurt just looking at them.

Mary said...

Have you read Steve Martin's novella's? They are great! Shop Girl and The Pleasure of my Company....I love that you are surviving and with good humor in the middle of all the peanuts!

~LL~ said...


The Balls said...

oh Catey that was a sweet post! I too often focus on what I "need" to get done, when what is really important is the kiddo! Hang in there, it will get easier:). Miss you guys!