New Year’s day is the ultimate fresh start. It’s the NEW year. It’s in the name. We all make our resolutions, promising to do better, be better, eat less butter. I’ve made a few, most of which don’t matter for the sake of this particular blog, but this year I promised myself that I will be more tolerant, more forgiving, more grateful. (Half of my resolutions are about being more of a person, the other half are about being less of a person….the irony.) I generally think I’m a pretty good mom. I put a lot of time and effort into keeping my home, keeping my family happy, and making it work. Because being an adult is work. Being a spouse is work. Being a parent is work. All of the memes are true; my Friday night fantasy IS to have a glass of wine at home, watch Netflix and curl up in bed by 9. I have a lot going on in my life, and even more that is just in my head, but I THINK I keep my cool pretty well…in general. I put up with a rash of shit from all corners and I generally take it in stride. But sometimes the pile gets so large it has to topple over. In that analogy the pile is my stressed feels and the toppling is when I walk around at random loudly finding fault with everything within 2 years and 200 miles of my location.
January 1, 2018 dawned cold, bright and beautiful. Dave and I went out on New Year’s Eve, but were home by 10. The kids stayed up until midnight, eating pizza, swilling apple cider, and watching Stranger Things. Just like in the old, old days I came out of my room on the first to find piles of bodies, blankets, pizza crusts, and keg cups laying on their sides. So like any good mother, I went back to bed for 3 more hours. Most of the mess didn’t right itself in my absence, but I did feel slightly better prepared to deal with it. Luckily the sun was out and it was a perfect day to get outside, out of my way, and enjoy a whole new year! I finally forced them out of the house at 11, and told them not to come back for an hour. Obviously, 10 minutes later the door opens and Alex, my 14-year-old son comes in. He tells me that his brother and a couple other kids are “tormenting” a dog up the street, banging on the fence to make it bark. I like all animals more than most people, and I do not put up with that bullshit, ever. I called, told him to come home. At that moment I notice an unfamiliar car pulling up outside our fence. I walked down the driveway and was met by a friend of my younger son’s, and his mother. They were arguing as I walked up, and kiddo did not look thrilled to be coming to visit. He was instructed to spit it out, and he did, “A bunch of us found a bunch of garbage up at the school and we spread it out all over the place.” “…What?” I couldn’t even understand what he was saying. That’s not something people do. That is CERTAINLY not something my kids do. The mom looked at me with sympathy, “I got curious what they were doing and drove up there. They were kicking garbage around the school. We’re going up now to clean it up, I just thought you should know.” I thanked her, and apologized. She laughed, “Oh don’t apologize to me. I have FOUR boys. Want to have a drink sometime?” This is how I make mom friends. I don’t have any mom friends that have perfect kids and perfect homes and perfect perfectness. If you text me on a weekly basis asking if I want to buy your child, if I have talked you down from a ledge the same week that you have talked me down from a ledge, or if you judge how your night is going by how full your wine glass is; you are my people.
The garbage got picked up, hands got scrubbed, and I got down to the bottom of what had happened in the (I’m not even kidding) TWENTY minutes since they left the house. Turns out it was 90% the youngest one, so I sent Alex to do a chore while I hashed it out with Ryan. I decided to do this while vacuuming because it suited my mood that everything should be loud, stressful, and impossible to understand. He cried about the dog, saying he “regretted it immediately.” so I didn’t make it too much worse, he knew it was wrong, I’m not worried that it will happen again. I switched gears to the garbage, absolutely dumbfounded that my kid did that. Any of that. I’m yelling (because: vacuum), and going through my thoughts on the matter when Alex calls to me. Twice. I finally look up, and say “WHAT?!” He looks taken aback for a moment, then rallies, pointing down at his turned out pockets, “Look, elephant ears…” (Remember last time when I told you my kids would poke a rearing grizzly?!). I turned off the vacuum and stared at him for a moment before saying, “Really…?” This interruption allowed a nice segue into another ongoing issue; the need to “read the room.” To know just by the way a situation feels how you should behave. That a yelling mother may not want to be part of your Three Stooges bit. I understand that this is an ability that takes some time to fully acquire, and being that intuitive doesn’t always come easily. In fact I’ve met adults that don’t really have this down. A perfect example of this is a family friend that interrupted a conversation during my grandmothers funeral to ask if anyone wanted to work on his boat motor. But I digress. Alex and I got that hashed out. Ryan and I got the garbage thing hashed out. Punishments were decided, chores were divied up. The yelling stopped, the vacuum was turned off.
It was about this time that I realized that the sound coming from the laundry room wasn’t, in fact, the washer filling, but the sound of the motor seizing, and the washer finally giving up after all these years of loyal service. This is not great news; if you have children you know that they create an unbelieveable amount of laundry. They clean up messes with their socks, they cover the dog with blankets, they put their used towel on the toilet, they have three wardrobe changes per day (except underwear, thats good for at least 2 days). No washing machine is not an option. In the last 2 months we have replaced the wood stove, the fridge, and now washing machine. The other appliances will soon follow because this is what they do.
As I was squeezing out a load of towels by hand, my mind wandered back to the elephant ears. Since he was able to move, well before he could talk, Alex would pull out his pockets, and we would laugh about his elephant ears. It was his first comedy routine. He loved it when they came out of the dryer like that, and I didn’t fix them (still don’t). Then he could strut around the house showing EVERYONE his elephant ears, making elephant noises, being a ham. He did this for years, and I don’t think I’ve seen him do it in 7+. I had actually completely forgotten that he ever did. Deep breath. I came out of the laundry room and happily told my husband, “Ok, I’m not crazy anymore!” to which he responded “Or any less!” Which is a true statement.
So here we are in a brand new year. With the same old shit. Nothing ever changes. Until it does. And it happens so fast you don’t remember it changing. You don’t remember when they stopped making elephant ears, when they got too old to hold your hand, kiss on the lips, snuggle up, sing in the car, try to make you laugh. So I’m also adding “be more present” to my resolutions. Because everything changes, so quickly. The things that made me so upset yesterday don’t even matter today. The boogers are blog posts. And the elephant ears are now just memories.
Happy New Year.