Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Daughter vs. the Wall

Lately Daughter's been on a cleaning spree. Not of our kitchen island, on which she has scattered arts and crafts supplies and anything and everything she could dump on there. Not of our family room where she has snuck plates, wrappers, cups, and cans, treating "her chair" in the middle of the room like it's her private garbage can, while not having anything actually make it into a garbage can.

Instead, she's suddenly started cleaning out her room. First she had an idea, which she presented to me and Husband in compelling detail: her room is too small and we need to take the wall down between it and the room next door. She had some drawings handy for how this would be accomplished, had chosen paint colors, and had a white board showing the eventual placement of her futon (she doesn't actually have a futon) and her walk-in closet (ditto). Every morning during my recent illness, the first thing I saw when I cracked my eyes open was Daughter standing at the foot of my bed with her white board and easel, ready to provide me with a detailed presentation on the subject. And, by any chance, do I happen to have the blueprints for our house laying about? 

Husband expressed some doubt that she could actually keep a space twice as large clean. "Let's see you clean up the room you've got and then we'll talk about it," he said.

His statement, I'm sure, is what triggered the cleaning frenzy.

This is how our lives were before: once a year or so, Daughter would lure me into her room on some pretense, I'm not sure what, and I'd find myself still sitting there about two days later sorting through junk, Daughter by my side and two gigantic bags nearby - one for giveaway and one for garbage. We'd slowly move through the room until it was clean, or at least vacuumable.

But Daughter, in her present cleaning frenzy, is handling things differently. She is slowly divesting herself of everything in the room, till now it resembles a prison cell or nun's chamber. Basically, there's a bed in there.  She's emptied out her dresser, one whole side of her closet, packed away some chairs she once loved, and has told me she doesn't need her bookshelves anymore. Or books.

I'm unsure of what's exactly going on here. Is she moving out? Because she's only eleven. I'm all for the kids moving out but I had kind of thought they'd wait till they got through middle school.

Husband thinks he can hold her off, keep setting new and more miserable cleaning tasks for her, trying to avoid the home renovation issue, the big daughter/small room issue. But I know what's going to happen. With Daughter's indomitable will, once she's done with her emptying, she'll take down that wall herself.

Do you ever recognize a will stronger than your own in your child or children? Messy kids? Determined kids?

Monday, May 16, 2011

From the Sick Bed

Okay, so I'll admit it, I've been sick. Like really sick. Right when I'm supposed to be full of energy, launching my newly published book into the stratosphere, promoting it, signing it, mailing it off to editors and columnists, what am I doing? I'm laying in a heap on my bed, my eyes replaced by Xs, like a cartoon.

And what's worse is that I have a mysterious type of ailment. Part asthma. Part exhaustion. Part massive  throbbing headache. Could it be the years upon years that I've spent staying up till two in the morning writing the darn book? Could it be all the years of getting four to five hours of sleep per night, all catching up with me at once?

Gone are the days of me waking up like a robot, showing up at my exercise class, magically appearing everywhere I'm supposed to be. Now I'm lucky if I can lift my head from my pillow. I crawl out of the house just in time to pick up Bar Mitzvahzilla from high school at 2:20 each day and then I creak over to Daughter's school to get her at 3:15. And that's the total of my big daily activity. I walk back in the house and fall back on my bed exhausted. I can feel my muscles atrophying.

Yet, somehow, when Husband hauled me off to the ER, I wasn't sick enough for them. They triaged me right to the bottom of the list, making me wait six hours and talking to me about the "impression of not being able to breath." Although with all the tests they did I guess I know it's not fatal.

You know you're really sick when, instead of the daughter taking care of the elderly mother - like I normally do - the eighty-year-old mother has to call me ten times a day worried sick about whether I'm dying. Today she even had my nearly deaf eighty-six-year-old stepfather call. I could hear her yelling at him in the background as he fumbled with the phone, "WHAT BOB? YOU CAN'T ASK HER HOW SHE IS?"

And, because of the hearing thing, because of the eighty-six-year-old thing, when he asked how I was, it was just simpler to say, "Fine, I'm fine."

And maybe I will be. Tomorrow.

Ever had illness get in the way of your plans? Ever had to become the patient when you've been the caretaker?

My book is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Kindle!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Un-Mother's Day

I didn't really get anything for Mother's Day. Even I had to confess that I didn't deserve anything.

It wasn't because I'm not a good mom. I'm a good mom. When you take the Exemplary Mom days and the Pathetic Mom days and average them out, I think I come out a solid, average Good.

But here's why I didn't insist on a monetary gift. In our family we have a bunch of our own personal "holidays" that come up in rapid succession early in the year - Husband's birthday in January, our anniversary in February, my birthday in March. If you wiggle that around a little (and, compulsive shopper that I am, I do wiggle it around a little) I manage to loop Chanukah in from December, Valentine's Day in February, and spread it out into Mother's Day in May, which has the affect of leaving Husband not knowing if he's coming or going. It's a nonstop spoiled wife festival, to the point where I practically have him buying me a present for his birthday in January and wondering if perhaps we should start celebrating April Fool's Day, with him the fool.

So this year I let him off the hook for Mother's Day. We celebrated with the one mother we have between us, mine. A present for her.

I'll make do with the one I got for Ground Hog Day. 

Do you get spontaneous gifts from your partner or do you feel like you need to hypermanage this issue? Are you a great, spontaneous gift-buyer?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kitchen Dysmorphia

This week, having a little more time on my hands since my book got published, I returned to my kitchen.

Not that I haven't been in there at all during the months I was editing the manuscript. I was in and out. When procrastinating my work, I'd grab something to eat in front of my TV, watching the stupidest shows I could find (Hoarders and Say Yes to the Dress). When not procrastinating, I'd grab something to eat in front of my computer.

This week I got ambitious. I started cooking.

My family looks on my cooking ambitions with some trepidation. For some reason, maybe it's coming from a gigantic family, maybe it's the deprivation my parents experienced during the Holocaust, maybe it's because I used to be much bigger and part of me wants to eat a house, but I can't seem to cook normal quantities of food. I only cook for armies.

When I make barley soup, I overestimate the amount of barley needed - the barley pearls are so tiny, who can tell how many is the right amount? Suddenly I end up with sludge-like soup, quicksand textured soup. A mallet is needed to stir.

This week I made a chinese noodle salad. I used twelve packages of ramen noodles. Twelve.

But then, of course, I panicked. What if twelve packages of ramen noodles weren't enough? Maybe I should put in an extra pound of spaghetti noodles? Well, I'm here to tell anyone who's curious about it that you can't actually boil twelve packages of ramen noodles and one pound of spaghetti in any normalish kind of soup pot, unless maybe you're a witch and own a cauldron.

So I'm the bane of my family. They're terrified to see me enter the kitchen, to see me hauling up my gear - three, maybe four, soup pots for the one dinner that night, bags of potatoes and onions - they're terrified because there always will be a lot of leftovers. Like for the whole neighborhood.

And tonight? I threw those noodles away.  

Does anyone else cook the wrong amount of food all the time? Cook for an army when there are many less than that living in your home? Worry about never having enough?