More on dirt

I know a lot of people worry about the images of females we put in front of ourselves as women. As in, we need to be careful we don't think we should look like pictures of women in magazines. Those are models, we are regular people. We don't want to place those expectations on ourselves.

Well, I've got a new one. It's those pictures of people's houses in magazines. I confess, I wish my living and dining room looked like a magazine spread. I'm constantly needing to remind myself how unrealistic they are. Like, the random cutting board with 4 perfect lemons on the counter. No mail, no stickiness, no dishes. My favorite is when there's a big hairy dog right smack in the middle of the gleaming wood floor. They must hire a single person to follow around the dog during the photo shoot with a dust buster. Anyway, even though I know it's not realistic, I still long for it.

In my mind, I can get it there. I envision my walls full of cool art and photos and all the surfaces clear. In my personal reality, it couldn't be farther from it unless I unloaded a bottle of chocolate syrup onto every surface. Now I know I'm supposed to let go of this. That one day, my children will be out of the house and I'll have tons of time to magazine-ify my house. I should be content, even happy, that my rooms are full of life and thus a beautiful mess. But really, this doesn't always do it for me. I want it all. I want messy life AND pristine decor.

So what do I do with this revelation? Do the children need more chores? Do I need to get rid of more stuff? Should I hire someone to follow the children around with a dust buster? I'm not really sure. And all of the above.

One of the Queen's (my mom) famous quotes is, "Play is a child's work." This is what I observe every day. They aren't trying to be slobs, they are just hard at work playing. I ask them again and again to put away, throw away, etc. But when they are in the middle of a streaming imagination, I just don't think it soaks in. So the constant reminding can be difficult and wears you down. When I come into a room and discover someone has emptied the contents of a pencil sharpener on the floor and left it there, I honestly don't want to call them away from their "work" to come clean it up because they are occupied and independent from me.

I wish I had some sort of solution or funny ending to the mess, but I don't. I just want to put it out there that I'm tired of cleaning things up. I know like a trillion and one moms have felt like this before. I know that my mommy work is nothing compared to some of those that have gone before. So I hereby resolve (again and again and again) to love the mess. Because the people I love most in this world left it there.

I recently read this anonymous quote:

"Mothers fight all their lives against dirt, and when they die, they are buried in it."

I'd like to donate my body to science, in hopes that my skeleton one day hangs in a classroom of some sort collecting dust. I'd like to go from dusting things while alive, to collecting unlimited amounts of dust with no ability to make a move to clean it in death. Dust and I currently have a pretty close relationship so I think it would work out.


Brace Yourselves

I figured out what has been happening to me lately. I have been wondering for quite some time why just the presence of my children puts me on edge. My body has not been feeling happy and relaxed much lately because of the pregnancy, but I feel really guilty that I'm constantly saying things like, "Please don't touch me!" In the past months it has been due to constant nausea because even the slightest movement would elevate it. Some of that is still lingering, but I still find myself in need of an even bigger "personal space" bubble than I normally require.

Tonight I realized why. I had been working very hard all day to rearrange/clean/organize/paint the boys room because it has become the girls and boys bunk room. I am cramming all four of them together to allow for a bigger school room and also space for the baby. So at about 6:30 this evening I really felt the need to sit and put my feet up for a few minutes. I allowed myself to do so. Only to be bombarded, as if my legs, which were stretched between the ottoman and couch, were horses. When I requested that stop, I got a visitor right next to me and an elbow in the gut. I realized before he even climbed up next to me, that I saw it coming and "braced myself" for whatever a heavy toddler next to you may bring.

It's like the little army men who control my muscles cried, "INCOMING!" and my entire body went on the defensive. I need so much extra grace! When I'm at a low patience level and my body is pushed to the limit, it is so hard not to wish everyone had big kid sized playpens I could stick them in so as to admire them from a distance. It's like I can't totally relax until I know that no one is going to bombard me with body weight! But let me tell you how I really feel.

Anyway, all that said I am in more love than ever with all of them and gave out some tough love tonight with their new "4 in a room" sleeping arrangements. It was hard but needed to be done. Like, new rules. Or rather actual enforcement of old ones. No talking or getting up and such.

One more really important thing...Brace Yourselves...our baby is a GIRL! I found out Tuesday. We are ultra excited and it is pretty early but the sono tech seemed 100% sure so I'm taking it! We are thrilled and so are the kids and I must admit I'm a little relieved to not be outnumbered by Alley men around here. Because if I have four of those, I'm really going to look into those playpens for adults. But they would need to be self-cleaning...the ideas are really flowing now...


Bella 8/22/08-7/7/10

Well, I have sad news to add to this chronicle of Alley life. Two days ago our dog, Bella, was killed on a highway near my parent's home. She had run away one night while some of us were setting off some fireworks. She was afraid of them. We were leaving there this morning explaining again to the kids why we were going home without her...she had run away and Pop-Pop would get her if someone called and said they found her. We had hung up signs and were checking one of them out as we turned on the highway. We began to accelerate and soon Jimmy began to slow down. He wouldn't tell me, even though I kept asking, why he was stopping on the side of the road. He had seen her in the grass shoulder and was going to make sure it was her. I knew of course but tried to remain optimistic. He tried to lie to me when he got back in the van but I knew. We pulled into a gas station and had a little pow-wow. I said we should tell the kids. He reluctantly agreed. There was just no way I could lie to them about how she might come back and someone might find her, etc. So he went into the gas station and said I could tell them. I don't think he wanted to be there.

I sat in the seat and basically just said it. It ended with "...and she got hit by a car or a truck and she's dead." Not exactly sugar coated but I've never done this before! The middles, who sit in the very back of the van, both burst into tears. I wasn't expecting this. I immediately crawled back there with them and helped them feel better with words and motherly touch. I never had the need to believe that animals go to heaven but I had no problem telling my 4 year old that she was happy in heaven now. It was great opportunity for telling them that God knows the number of our days and that everything He does is to take care of us and for His glory.

It of course hasn't even sunk in totally but I've been okay with it. It's hard to understand but really it has just made me thankful that I lost an animal I loved and not a person. Because if the animal leaves a void, I can't imagine a human member of the family. I almost lost it a few minutes ago (this is what made me go ahead and write all this) in the van I was on the way home from dropping Jackson and Libby off and two different birthday parties. So it was just me and Cash and Penelope in the car. We passed a man walking a black dog and Cash said, "Mom! I just saw a man walking a dog that looked like Bella!" I said, "Yes, I saw it too, Cash." And then Penelope said something about wanting Bella to come back.

What transpired for the next 10-12 minutes (a long time in kid conversation) was a discussion about where Bella was and what had happened to her. Cash wasn't sad, he just plainly told Penelope that Bella got killed and now she was dead but that she went way up into the sky into heaven and she is alive again. It really touched my heart! Amazing how he has totally moved on. How he's happy to tell others that she is alive with God in heaven. Later he said, "I think God has dog food in heaven because he has to feed Bella." And, "Penelope do you know who God is? He loves us and we love him and when we die we will go to heaven and see Him and Bella!" Penelope finally got it sort of and said, "Bella is dying" and Cash said, "No! She's alive again!" So this was very confusing to Penelope and I had to ask Cash to lay off the alive again stuff so that Penelope would understand. It was a moment I know I will never forget. It was priceless to have the older ones away so that Cash could talk about it without being corrected or interrupted. Hearing his conclusions about all of it really warmed me.

And now a few words about Bella. She was a great dog. We got to have her for one year, and as much as I hated her shedding and watching her eat poop, I will miss her too. She made me feel safe. I slept every night knowing she would never let anyone get past her to our bedrooms. I knew she would warn us of any danger. She was so very tolerant. The kids would dress her up, lie on top of her, attempt to ride her...and she never complained. She had soft ears and a soft heart. I was constantly amazed by her loyalty towards us. She was just a "dumb dog" but sure did love us, even when we didn't deserve it. I hope we can do the same for each other. Stick together no matter what. Thanks Bella, for loving a crazy family like ours. We'll miss you!