Well, as you may have noticed, I took a hiatus from blogging for the second half of the year. Other demands got in the way…Building a house and the Twilight series among them. (Thank goodness my boss has been so understanding.)
The theme for 2010 turned out to be 'maintaining' because that's all I managed to do - maintain food in the fridge, dinner on the table, clean laundry and really, little else. Oh, and I stopped the kids from killing each other on several occasions. It was a fallow year. Sometimes you just have to do nothing and accept that that is the best you can give under the circumstances.
We owner-built our house, which meant my husband Patrick served as the general contractor or go-to man. So while he contracted out the bulk of the work to the professionals, he had an amazing amount of behind the scenes stuff to do in order to keep everything ticking along. Which he did, a huge credit to him. But it was the equivalent of working a full-time job in addition to having to maintain a real full-time job.
Like many things in life (perhaps marriage and children among them), there are some things that you simply would not undertake if you realised beforehand the amount of work involved. I would put owner-building a house in that category, and it’s given me a new sensitivity to the plight of the single parent. Then came the actual move itself, in winter, with slick mud and rain and mess. (Because we built on what used to be farmland, there was not a tree or bush or - thanks to the tradesmen's trucks - not even a blade of grass to be found.) Everyone knows that every time you move, you unpack 90% of the stuff in two weeks and the last 10% takes two years. So I’ve been chipping away at that last ten percent, slowly, in the latter half of ‘10.
The upside is – aside from the lovely house – the features in it which I most appreciate, besides the obvious of the dishwasher. First, a laundry room. For me, this is the equivalent of the male’s shed, but I don't even have to leave the house. Imagine! A whole room dedicated to the endless pursuit of laundry! Beats crawling down to the creepy basement. And if you have any job to do, it helps having the right tools and space to do it in. May as well just chain me in there with my People magazines, Edward Cullen poster (sorry, George) and mini-fridge full of ‘mother’s helper’. (And no, I didn’t mention the spin cycle in that list, so get your minds out of the gutter.) Once I get a recliner in there, it’ll be the equivalent of a man cave. Good times.
My other favourite room in the house is – wait for it – my pantry. Lame, I know, but it’s not just the storage and accessibility I love. It’s got a door that closes and I can fit easily inside, which means it also doubles as a sound-proof booth. Ideal location for making phone calls, smoking cigarettes, reading old People magazines and perusing my Edward Cullen portfolio. Also, you’ll never go hungry in there.
So in a nutshell – and in lieu of those generic, but often horribly entertaining ‘letters’ that often find their way into our Christmas cards with highlights like ‘then after Uncle Bob had his emergency appendectomy in June…’ – here are some of the other highlights for the other Shaws for the second half of ‘10:
For the Firstborn: Kindergarten completed, with all of its schoolyard politics and shifting alliances. Can read (this somehow amazes me), but she’s disappointed she STILL hasn’t lost any teeth.
Lesson for mum: I’ve realised how early the bitchy-ness starts among girls. Fickle, yes, but some of the stories she’s told me, and all I can come back with is, ‘What?! You mean ALREADY?’ I’ve also worked out who the sluts will be in Year 10 - always a relief.
Middle Guy: Constant whinging has been replaced by endless questions. Although annoying in a different way, it is a vast improvement. Now, every conversation starts with ‘Can I ask you a question?’ even when there are no questions to be asked; for example:
Him: ‘Can I ask you a question?’
Him: ‘I put my own shoes on’
Lesson for mum: Clearly, he is filing away all this information acquired in that lovely, uncluttered mind of his so he can remind me when he is a teenager of just how dumb I’ve become.
Third Child: Second half of the year has seen the emergence of diva-like demands, the likes of which had not been experienced in the Shaw household since ’08. Screaming, throwing, whinging and DEMANDS are all part of the daily show. C’mon down and see for yourself.
Lesson for mum: While I had been of the persuasion that every family gets their diva, I was completely unprepared for two. And this time, I’m too old to deal, depleted from the first one. All my fight’s gone. I'm trying him on fish oil (I would try a witch's potion if I thought it would help) so I'll let you know how that goes.
For me – aside from the many rich and wonderful life lessons that my children have bestowed upon me again this year (eye roll) – having for the first time in my adult life a mortgage, a garage door opener and a permanent address has brought a certain amount of peace and stability. (Ironically, everything I was afraid to acquire during my 20s somehow just snuck up on me.) Although it meant that all my wants had to be shelved (eg, working, writing, exercising with any sort of regularity, time away from parenting) it has been a productive year in other aspects. Lesson for mum: Sometimes it can’t be about you. A hard one to admit. So right now, I’m going to go do some laundry - wink, wink.