Sunday, May 24, 2015

On Working

Right now I'm attached to a breast pump wearing a royal blue polyester shirt in a quiet house. My whole family has gone off on a Memorial Day adventure, but I won't be joining them because I have to go work.

When we decided to have a fourth child, we decided that I wouldn't go back to teaching. I wanted to spend most of my time at home schooling my own children. But our finances / lifestyle requires me to bring in a little bread. Waitressing makes sense. I  enjoy waitressing. It's good, fast money. I'm an extrovert. I like helping people have a good time. A couple of weeks ago I started at the place my younger sister has worked for years. It's fun and the views are great. All and all, it's not a bad deal. Until...

It's a holiday weekend, and I want to be doing all the fun things everyone else wants to be doing, but instead I'm attached to a breast pump in my polyester shirt in a quiet house feeling a little sad and thinking about life choices.

Sure, we could probably skate by without my part-time job, but that would mean added stress when a car breaks down, and it would definitely mean we couldn't make trips to visit my best friend in New York. It would mean no new house plants ever, and not being able to feed my family the sorts of foods we place a high premium on. It would mean lots of little sacrifices.

Or it could mean a huge change, like moving somewhere cheaper, away from my extended family and the water. Maybe we could have land and chickens and a big garden and live in a smaller house, things I have dreamed about, but don't chose over morning cups of coffee with my sister-neighbor.

So two evenings a week, I won't be feeding my family dinner; I'll be serving it to strangers. I'll be cracking jokes and smiling as I pass their table, throwing them a thumbs up signal with a question on my face. "Is everything okay?" I lip sync from a distance. I pay cash for all my groceries now and will soon be complaining about my sore feet. When invitations hit my inbox, I have to decide if I'm going to request off, and sometimes I will have to decline, and I will be in this very same spot again, and once again, I will likely wonder if I'm making the right choice, if a little extra money is worth trading for a little less fun.

I wish that there was a different way or that I could just be less of a consumer, a little more thrifty. But for now I'm doing my best to find a work/ life balance that works for me and my family, and just like all important decisions, I'm second guessing myself.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spinning My Wheels

I can't tell you how many times I've collected those plastic building pieces from around the house in the past 48 hours, but whatever the number is, add a few more times that I have asked Sena or Gus to do the same thing.

And today I had big plans to get to the bottom of my laundry pile, but it's raining and I have become strict about line drying, so it will have to wait till tomorrow, though chances are, I will never see the bottom of that wicker basket full of dirty clothes. Never.

And my kitchen sink needs to cleaned and the floors need to be vacumed, and there are at least a dozen other such chores that are calling my name. But Alamae James just wants to bounce on my knees, so I sit here typing with one hand as she coos and drools. At least it affords me a moment to do one thing I want to do, find space for my thoughts. But meanwhile, the tasks pile up.

For the past two days I have scurried around my house picking up and folding and wiping, and yet, nothing looks different, and it likely won't for quite some time. I stop what I'm doing to help Gus with math problems or read a chapter of one of his books with him. Sena wants to do the next video in our 30 day yoga challenge. Arlo would give his left hand for me to just turn on the television.

I do my best to live my life as well as I am able. But some days are mundane and frustrating, and I force myself to try to think bright thoughts, grateful thoughts, as a bit of sadness sits right behind my eyes. On Tuesday I went to work at my new part time job with the intention of finding beauty in each and every person I saw. It was harder work than I had imagined. I woke up Wednesday exshausted from it. Still, I did my best to trudge on through my shift, even when I wanted to scream, "Don't you assholes know I'm trying to be positive over here?" I kept offering up smiles, finding plenty returned.

I wish every day was camping trips and rafts on the bay. I wish every day was strawberry picking and nature journaling and picnicing and friends visiting. Some days are those things. Some days aren't.

These are all the days.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

With You

Alamae James from rachel weaver on Vimeo.

You aren't supposed to serve guests a meal and then nitpick your own cooking. It's bad form. But just like I have a hard time not pointing out that I overcooked the chicken or that I should have salted the rub more, it's hard for me not to mention the cameo appearances by my thumb or the awkward faces I make when the camera turns on me. Regardless, just like those flawed meals, I still self-consciously enjoy this.

This Weekend We // Rocky Gap Party of Six

We don't often do things as an immediate family. We tend to travel with a larger tribe, friends or family or some combination of the two. But this weekend stole away as a party of six spending our time without distraction.

We drove three hours to the mountains, at least "mountains" by East Coast standards. The nostalgia came in fast and hard as we drove, thinking about other times I had made a similar drive, all those music festivals first as a college kid, later dragging along Sena and Gus until the whole thing finally became too much. Time did that confusing thing when everything seems like it just happened but also that it happened a lifetime ago.

We spent a few days in a too small cabin, mostly playing in the drizzle but occasionally getting a few hours of sunshine and blue skies. The air was thick with the smell of earth, and the moss beneath our feet felt better than any carpet ever made by man. We found thousands of tadpoles at the lake's edge, came across a baby fawn waiting for her mother right along the path. We walked through the forest in inappropriate foot ware, identifying whatever plants and trees we could.

Tom played boardgames with the kids while I nursed Alamae. We grilled and we made s'mores. Gus and I hardly slept-- he because he was scared of bears, me because a room full of that many people I love means so many breaths to be listening to all night long. We came home dirty and tired and happy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Jewish Parable

A man once lived in his small house with his wife and six children. The house was loud and crowded. There was no peace to be found. For years his ever patient wife heard his complaints, shouldering the burden, until one day she asked him to go speak to the rabbi.

The man went to his rabbi. "Rabbi, we are too many. Our house is too small. There is too much noise. I cannot think. I cannot breathe. What do I do?"

The rabbi instructed him to go home and bring his six chickens inside his house. The man went home and did as he was told. Three days later he returned to the rabbi.

"Rabbi, we are now even more. The chickens are  pecking away. They poop on our floor. It is louder and messier."

"Go home and also bring your goat into the house," the rabbi instructed.

The man went home and brought the goat into his house. However, after three days he went running back to the rabbi.

"The goat is eating at our furniture. He rams into our legs. Things have only gotten worse."

"Go home and bring your cow into the house as well."

The man went home and brought the cow inside the house. Three days later, he went back to the rabbi once again.

"Rabbi, the house  is filthy and reeks of manure. We can barely move around all the animals. The snorts and moos and sounds of the animals breaking wind keep me awake all night. Rabbi, this is terrible."

"Go home and remove all the animals from your house."

The man went home and did as he was told yet again. Three days later he returned to the rabbi, nearly skipping the entire way, joy radiating from his face.

"Rabbi, thank you so very much. We removed the animals. Our house is clean and calm and quiet now. A man can find rest within its walls."

I love my house filled with people. I love the laughter mixed with mayhem. I love the chaos the comes with joy. And I love the time that comes just after too.