Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Baggage Claim

I really appreciate so much everyone's sensitivity and encouragement about my last post. And I have made a decision to do something. I cannot say I have never done this before, but I can make every effort not to do it in the future. I have a pretty good idea of who reads this. Well, I get thrown off by the numbers on some days, but I think there is a general group of like thirty or so and I could probably make a list (but I won't!) of who those people are. Anyway, I can just go ahead and say that I will never make a deliberate backhanded confrontation on this blog. If I know you read, you will not have to find out that I am somehow upset with you, unbeknownst to you before, by reading a post here. I have a terrible problem with gossip. I never really confronted it head on until someone I know started gossiping about people that I know are very dear and special to this person. I realized that I have this same ugly tendency, this same lack of restraint to say anything that pops into my head. Fortunately, a blog is something you can proofread and check over before the rest of the world gets a hold of it. I will definitely keep in mind my readers when I talk about something that I have had a hard time with. Also, if I make a general statement, like what I said about when everyone was trying to encourage me and it felt like a rebuke, a lot of times 1) I am as much if not more or completely at fault because of how I choose to handle their comments when I know they mean well, and 2) I usually can't remember anything specific but just that I felt that way and am not thinking of anyone specifically.

I know this is a little tricky to be so out there and open on the world wide web. I know some people think this must be a little like "airing dirty laundry." But I try to just keep it about me and not about other people where I can, and I have a real desire for vulnerability and honesty in friendships that I can't expect if I'm not making my own contribution. I think stay at home mom-ness particularly is a very isolating thing even as I have the absolute luxury of living in a small community with 40 something other Christian families, many (though less and less it would seem!) with children. This is your window into this stay at home mom's world. Perhaps you do not feel so alone when you read this. I know there was a catch 22 on the last post- no one wanted to say "we feel just like you" when they knew I was talking about something kind of severe, but on the other hand, no matter where you came from or what your life has been like, you probably struggle with a degree of perfectionism and inadequacy. A sweet friend pointed that out to me with all delicacy last night and I know that is completely true. This can be that post if you like- what do you struggle with, where is it hard for you to feel like measuring up? I know this crowd, so I am not expecting to be singing Kum Ba Yah, but I thought I'd give us the opportunity to have a discussion.

Pam Caldwell, a lady at our church in Birmingham who really felt a call and duty to be a Titus 2 model for all the young women in our church, is also connected to my church in St. Louis and speaks at our womens' retreats. She has a back pack with measuring sticks dangling from it that she walks around the room with when she speaks. The back pack is our baggage, which everyone has, and the measuring sticks are what we hold up to others to see if we measure up to them. In one skit at our retreat in Birmingham, there were two ladies completely laden down with baggage. The bags had things written all over them from the serious to the stuff we get embarrassed about that make us feel like we are failing like "I have fed my family from the McDonald's drive through three times this week." These illustrations are funny because they peg us pretty well don't they? Does talking about them and acknowledging them help? I think so, but what do I know. Here's some of what would be written on my bags that I bet a lot of you have to match- we can be Twinkies!

"I haven't mall walked (exercised) in a week!"
"I still haven't taken down the party decorations from Saturday."
"I also haven't washed (or even soaked) the pots I used to make dinner last night."
"Lots of nights, no one has clean pajamas and we have to find tee shirts for the kids to wear to bed."
"I grocery shop in the really nice part of town and pretend (ever so subtly) that I live there instead of five miles away where the factories are."
"My children watch entirely too much tv."
"Because my children drive me crazy just by being in the same room as me a lot of the time."
"I have a library book that is nearly two months overdue. I have only read about thirty pages and that was in the first three days I had it. Yet I continue to not re-check it out and not take it back. I am going to have over six dollars in fines (and climbing). But I have done nothing about it."
"Speaking of that, we are the people that get the 'friendly reminder from Blockbuster' calls on almost every video. We have even been charged for the video more than once before for being a week past the due date- the secret is, you can 'return' the video and get your money back anyway! Now that we know that, we are more shameless than ever. But at the same time, we really do mean to take them back, we just keep forgetting."
"We have no budget and have never had a budget. We pretend we do because people always say things like 'we had to pull from our entertainment budget to help with the grocery budget because we bought so much beer on sale.' We act like we have an entertainment, grocery, or any other budget too. But really we just pray for money a lot."

Sorry, the stuff written on the bags is getting progressively longer. Well, you get the idea. What's on your bags? (Get it? Kinda like "what's in your wallet?") - Add to my bags, "I have a really dorky sense of humor."


Anonymous said...

I would love to participate! what a great post.

The sheets on my bed haven't been changed in over two weeks and my kids (sheets, not clothes!) even longer. someone needs to come up with an easier way to change crib sheets!

i haven't eaten a piece of fruit in i can't remember how long.

i ate puppy chow all day yesterday with little else good for me.

i haven't ordered my step mother's birthday present and her birthday was a week ago.

love, Jennie

Anonymous said...

It took us SIX weeks to take down the superman party banner from Jack's birthday!

I haven't mopped my floors in at least two weeks.

It's 3:45 and I don't think I've eaten anything today..not good.

My kids have been getting one bath a week lately...all that chlorine from the pool does the trick, right???

love, elizabeth

Fittsy said...

Well, I'll take it upon myself to make you all feel better.

The following are routine in our house, not exceptions:

I only change the sheets every two weeks. I used to go longer but figured that was gross.

I NEVER mop my kitchen once a week. I'm doing well if it's done every two weeks. And hardwoods - I AIM for once a month, meaning that routinely doesn't happen.

Vacumming: Doing well if it's done every other day. I really wish I was better at this.

I didn't bath Libby daily until she was 12 months. And even now, I sponge bath her several days a week.

I am messy by nature and our house often, too often, reflects that. It really, truly bothers me and hopefully that counts for something?(Drop by and you'll see.)

I really hesitate to post this. My Mom and Grandmother would absolutely cringe to know these truths. But I'm doing my best, I promise.

jennifer said...

Chlorine kills germs, Elizabeth, so your children are clean!

Parents and in-laws are very forgiving about birthdays, and I am glad since my mother-in-law's gift from her birthday of last week is still in the dresser drawer in my dining room.

You mean you have to mop hardwoods!!!

Vacuuming every other day--really? What a concept!

And, you all listed several of mine. So many I can't think of anything original from my house.

When you're kids are grown, do you think they'll remember how clean the floors were or how many times you gave them a bath? I think they'll remember the birthday parties, even when you didn't take the decorations down for days and the cookies you made for them even when the dinner pots were soaking, and the books you read to them in the middle of a dusty living room.

We'll all have time to be perfect homemakers just before the grandchildren start to arrive.
Spongebaths are perfectly fine for babies and young toddlers. After all, you wipe the smelliest parts several times a day!

jennifer said...

P.S. Somehow my spongebath comment migrated to the bottom of the rest of what I wrote. It was supposed to come before the "when your kids are grown part" note the incorrect "you're."

lauren said...

"We act like we have an entertainment, grocery, or any other budget too. But really we just pray for money a lot."

haaaaaa! i am cracking up outloud right now!!! if i'm honest, we're not far from that statement. we did start out with those budgeted areas, but they've dissipated!

i've lived in my house for 3 years and i've only cleaned the hardwoods (on hands and knees) 3 times. i do swiffer about 1x/week.

my son is 2.5 and still screams the entire time i'm grocery shopping because he hates to be confined.

i have a bag of dum dum lollipops for bribery in my diaper bag.

i let my kids jump on the bed.

my kids eat annie's mac & cheese about 4-5 times a week for either lunch or dinner. hey it's organic, right?

we used to put coke in liam's sippy cup so we could finish our dinner in peace.

ellie had a rice crispey treat for breakfast this morning.

my husband cleans the bathrooms 75% of the time.

i say i change sheets every 2 weeks, but it's probably 3-4 weeks. yes, it's gross, but i forget!!!

great post abby!

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha! This is great!

I have to agree with Jennifer...vacuuming every other day would make me a compulsive neat freak(in my own mind, not that this would be bad :))...I vacuum once a week, unless someone's coming over and it's really bad.

love, elizabeth

Abby said...

I am laughing out loud! Especially about the coke in the sippy cup! BEAUTIFUL! I also confess to losing track of when the sheets were last washed most of the time and to having only mopped our hardwoods once or twice in the eleven months we have lived here. The most recent time was because Jessie and Amy were both doing theirs so I guessed maybe I should too. If I had ever done it before, it was when we first moved in and everything was gross from so much in and out with the move. And we have had our black minivan for thirteen months and it has NEVER been washed, not even at a drive through! I asked George to run through a car wash today, but we think about it a lot and never do it; my guess is we won't get to it today either. Oh, and I love that Brian cleans the bathrooms! George gives the baths and I refuse to touch trash so he has to do that too. He does some pretty regular standing in on a lot of other things, but particularly watching the kids so I can do other things. I don't know what will happen when he is gone from 8 to five again like normal dads!

Heather said...

Abby I love what's written on your bags and everyone else's!

*Much agreed that chlorine does the trick most days...sadly though our outdoor plastic pool has none...is that a problem?

*I only obsess on vacumming b/c of the dog who I'll never get rid of b/c she mops after every meal!

*My son told me he wipes his nose on his blanket in bed and I still haven't washed it.

*He and Addie went bolistic in target today (not that it is unlike most days) in a way that I remember commenting on someone else's child negatively back in the prekid days! I was mortified.

*I haven't run in over a week and I have been healthy for days now.

*We prefer birthday "week" celebrations which would give you much more leisure to take the decorations down on your own time table!

*And yes, as though no one wanted to touch your TV comment but we're all thinking of it, my children watch entirely too much TV too!


the good, the bad & the ugly said...

How about,
I am reading through the one year Bible, and today (July 18) I am currently on February 25th.

Oh, and it took me a good 10 seconds to come up with today's date (and a good 5 seconds to remember the day of the week).


katie said...

Ya'll are too funny! It's good to hear that everyone is imperfect, or more like REAL!

-I read Abby's blog when I should be working.

-My car is so dirty that if you sit on a wet towel after being at the pool the towel will pick up all the dirt and be brown.

-I say that I've quit drinking Dr. Pepper but in reality, I have a cold one sitting on my desk right now.

-I don't have kids and I still can't get my act together to do laundry or go through mail regularly.

-I eat cookies for breakfast about once a week.

-Sometimes I come to work without taking a shower beacuse I'd rather sleep than be clean.

:) Katie

Anonymous said...

Reading this had been the best therapy for me! So, here I go...
- my kids have not had a bath since last Saturday, and I hope I can get myself up early enough tomorrow to bathe them before church (don't hold your breath)
- I have only brushed my 18 month old's teeth maybe 3 times
- I spend way too much money on my kid's clothes, and even worse, I have learned how to shuffle my charges around on different credit cards to hide it from my husband (I also balk when he says we need a budget because I know this would be the first area to be cut - how bad am I?)
- sometimes I put my kids to bed at 6:00 because I am so tired of being with them

Thanks for making me feel a little better about myself - I need reminding from time to time that other moms are not perfect either!
Elizabeth A.

Happy Homemaker said...

Oh honey! You don't have room for all my confessions! I'm happy- not perfect!

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