Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Balance and organization: And other lies we once believed

You know what?

Parenthood is tough.

You know what else?

Anyone who attempts it in addition to any other sort of activity is crazy with a capital CR. Just sayin'.

I’ve been chasing this dream of the perfect, balanced life for years since Boy Wonder was born. It was tough enough when it was just him and I, but add in the missing, crucial elements of P and Boo to our life? A couple careers and a full-time education? Kindergarten? Enriching activities? The desire to do some enriching activities of our own?

Ohmigod, I think P and I are headed for a loony bin.

Lemme add some horror to this fantasy fiction: we don’t own a dishwasher. Or a washer/dryer. We fight the beast of chaos four quarters at a time and with stank-ass drying towels taking up our counters at all times.

But fear not. Our lives are not in peril and I’ve yet to have the school call to complain that Boy Wonder smelled funny.

Along the way, I think we’ve developed a method to make the best of what we’ve got—and I’m pretty sure we’ve given up perfection. I think I tossed that out with some dirty diapers about ten months ago.

1. We embrace the beast. Her name is Gigantor and she consists of mismatched socks, stained bibs, mama’s work pants, and P’s jiu-jitsu shirts. Some days we can beat Gigantor into submission, only to find her cousin, Huge-appatamus (consisting of stacks of folded clean clothes) waiting for us on our bed at 10 p.m., just as we’re trying to pass out. Huge-appatamus gets moved to the floor (temporarily, of course!) and within a day, dirty underwear gets mixed in and we can’t tell what’s clean and it all gets transferred to the dirty stack, where Gigantor is waiting with open dirty-towel arms. We know the cruel cycle and we embrace it now.

2. Our baby looks like a million bucks when he leaves the house. His older brother will look straight GQ. There’s a good chance, however, that their parents might look like vagrants. Boo will have matching socks, a coordinated hoodie to match his Polo jeans, and gel in his hair. His nose will be wiped and there will be no remnants of lunch left on his face. Dominic will have on a Hurley shirt and brand new Nikes. He’ll even get a spritz of Guess cologne and a stick of mint gum to make sure he’s “so fresh and so clean, clean.” P, however, will still be wearing yesterday’s sweat pants. His new, clean shirt will have a piece of peanut butter bagel stuck to it from Boo’s breakfast. I will have crusties in my eyes and last night’s make up on. I will wipe the bottom of the mascara from beneath my eye and hope it passes for smudged, smoky eyeliner. It usually won’t.

3. If we are busy, or if we just don’t feel like it, we will ignore the dishes until there are no spoons left. Then we will panic and steal one of the baby’s safety spoons to eat our ice cream with until one of us caves and tackles the dishes with a nasty scowl on our face.

4. We will have a long list of things we want done each day, only to pass out, face down, on this list and drool on it. Sorry, list. You were conceived with the best of intentions, but you’ll likely get tossed in the over-full trashcan. Right next to the electric bill we didn’t notice. It’ll be ok. The disconnect notice usually gives you a 24-hour grace period, right?

5. When we are going somewhere fun, the last five minutes before we leave will probably be panic-filled and one parent will likely not be speaking to the other one. The conversation will go down something like this: He: “Did you pack the diaper bag?” She: “Exactly when was I supposed to do that? I was getting them dressed. Did you pack the diaper bag?” He: “Yeah, right in between feeding the dog, putting the dishes away, and finding the lost blanket.” She: “Yeah, well I was busy finding the left shoe and pulling the baby’s hands out of the toilet again because SOMEBODY left the damn door open…” Silence ensues for the first six miles down the road. Luckily, all is soon forgotten once Boo overturns his bag of cheerios on the floor of Mommy’s beloved truck. Scraping up crushed cereal products together has a real bonding effect on a married couple. True story.

6. We forgo fighting for sleep. Truly. I’m sure there are times P would like to get to the bottom of why I can never screw caps back on the milk or OJ. I’d love to know why he can’t toss his clothes into the dirty clothes right before he gets into bed. But you know what? We haven’t had eight straight hours of sleep in 14 months and we’re not gonna jeopardize the precious few minutes we do get sorting out the gory details.

7. We acknowledge the fact that sometimes our kids don't get the memo. There are days when P needs to study. I work on deadlines. And sometimes, more often that we'd like, our kids just don't give a damn. There are owwies to kiss and Wii games to load and babies to squish. Our priorties don't always match up and P and I have learned to sometimes throw in the towel for a minute or two. We can blame them later in life for our unrealized dreams if we need to. :)

7. Bottom line: “good enough” really is good enough at this point. Despite the fact that I’d like to take a lit match to our unorganized house much of the time, we manage to keep our priorities straight enough on a daily basis not to waste our blessings. At the end of the day, we know our kids won’t be young for very long, so we tiptoe around the roadside Lego bombs, we use broken laundry baskets as impromptu baby gates, we leave peanut butter and jelly smears on the counter for a couple hours, and we get down on the floor and we play with our kids. We drive them 45 miles for a swim lesson. We pack too many toys in their diaper bags and bring the damn Nintendo DS with us wherever we go, despite how loud Boy Wonder likes to play it. We swallow our pride and ask the boss for the morning off to go see “Stone Soup” with the kindergarten class. We’re mildly surprised when we get it with a blessing to boot.

We think the universe conspires, once in a while, to remind us how great everything really is.

Life is good, my friends, life is good.

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