to have or not to have nice things

Several years ago I visited with an elderly lady.  Inside her little home were nice things.  Antique furniture was spread throughout. Everything was beautiful and nice. She told me how she had never made more than $29,000 a year. She had also kept financial records for every single penny (seriously) that she had spent. She learned how to live off of very little. To have nice things she found what people were discarding and learned how to refurbish them. By the looks of her home she was very skilled.

Not many weeks later she gave me her dishes. She explained to me that she no longer wanted those dishes because she realized that she had neglected the use of her fine china. She was getting older and wanted to use them. Why not? It was this that began my desire for nice.

Fast forward several years and I can tell you that it is very discouraging to have nice things. My disabled son has managed to break many nice things over the years. Things that may not have monetary value but they meant “nice” for me.

One place I have found some fun and nice things are thrift stores. Once I realized what  vintage snack plates and cups were I had to buy some. (Why don’t stores put them together? My generation and younger have no clue what they are unless paired correctly.)

I try to remember to take them out…like the time I took them to my daughter’s school for lunch. I heard the younger children whispering and wondering if we were rich.

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Of course, I should have already learned not to multitask from the other day. While I was getting this snack ready my brother called. While we talked a few things happened all within a few seconds of each other. My youngest, the Monkey, decided is was more fun to play in the “hot” chocolate.

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Once I turned my back she took that little cup and banged it on the plate which now takes residence in my trash can.

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Yeah. My poor pretty and fun and nice plate (insert a sad pouty face). However, it is okay. It broke. Things break. I have gotten used to that fact. I will still enjoy nice things. We all need nice, fun, and pretty (if you can stand pretty). We need it because life is hard. We need those nice things to break up the sad and to add a little bit of sunshine and hope to the dreariness that often accompanies the everyday.

 

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cleaning is never perfect

Over the years I have noticed a fear amongst many parents, especially single parents. The fear that if they do not have a perfectly clean home someone will get on their high horse and report them for child abuse. As a single parent I have had many people express to me that I need to make sure my house is clean at all times just in case this happens to me. Talk about a heavy weight on the shoulders. I might as well hide all the toys away and make sure we never live in our home. Messes happen when you live, and especially when you have children. But…how do you conquer the daily messes?

During a recent browsing session on Pinterest I came across several different ideas for how to keep up with house cleaning, chores, and all sorts of “never again have a messy house” ideas. Many of them were for chore lists for hourly, daily, weekly and monthly tasks. A few I opened and read a few of them. I was greeted with beautiful success stories of a parent once overwhelmed with house chores and now no able to keep up. I was happy for them. Very much so.

They found success, but something was missing. I felt bad. I felt as though I had failed. How come I could not be that way? Why was I feeling such great pressure to have a perfectly clean home all of the time?  I realized that what was missing was what happened after all these success stories were shared. Things that include the unexpected, the non perfect life that makes it nearly impossible to always follow a schedule, and everything else that happens to get in the way of the perfect housecleaning schedule. Yeah. Life. It happens.

I took a moment to think back at my own lists over the years. There have been many. Most of them I only got as far as writing them down. I had the desire, but they were unrealistic mainly because I failed to schedule in life. The life which makes doing dishes in five minutes to ten minutes.

The only list that I ever found success with was a laundry chore list. I did research on how often certain things needed to be washed then made my list. It was so successful that I decided to try that idea again with a pretty little chalkboard I found. I have never followed it, and I made it with as little detail as possible.

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What I have found to be the most successful is giving myself a break. Not the sit down type of break, but one where I stop pressuring myself so much to have the perfect schedule for cleaning my home.

I also had to recognize that I needed to try and include my children, but to take the pressure off that as well. Just because my children cannot do their own laundry yet does not mean I have failed as a parent. So I continue to teach them how to work even without a daily or weekly chore list. As long as we are doing our best and trying even if perfect is not the end result.

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There will be days of total mess. There will be days that every single one of will just crash and not want to deal with and possibly eat ice cream instead of doing dishes. That is okay, and if a visitor comes to the house while it is a mess then we do not have to be embarrassed because we are living in the space we call home.

 

the art of not multitasking

Last night I attempted to multitask. Who does that? People have mentioned to me that they think I am great at multitasking. I beg to differ. Although I may have several things happening at once I can really only effectively do one thing at a time. It might be a few seconds back and forth devoted for each task, but I am really only doing one thing at a time. Maybe that is my problem. I tend to take on too much at one time which result in less than stellar results…or none at all. Let’s take into consideration last night:

Prince wanted his favorite thing for dinner. I was going to have him help me so I put an apron on him. While I was at it why not just have the other children help make a dessert while we waited for water to boil for dinner. It did not take long for Prince to be gone. I had three other kids; they could help. Yeah right. Before  Prince’s food was even finished and noodles in the now boiling water I had kicked them all out of the kitchen. Too much at once. There are times I need to recognize that the desire was there but it was just bad timing. So I turned to a much easier dessert later that night. Way easier and all it pretty much required was stirring…to which Goose took over quite well. I guess I can be grateful that the biggest mess I had from my attempt at making dessert was just a few clean dishes to put away.

 

The bubble I live in

“I was a bubble once before someone popped me.” My daughter, Goose, exclaimed at the dinner table. Dinner looked close to good, even if there was no fancy garnishing. It was as good as it could get. I was just happy I had vegetables to give them. dinner2 (2 of 7).jpg

As everybody finished I looked at what was left. Why bother making food at all? Okay, why bother making enough for everybody? In order for my kids to eat I needed to make just two plates of food. I figured it this way: I ate what there was and that would take care of plate number 1. Plate number 2 could be divided amongst the other three children (my special needs child ate something different) because from where I was at one child ate the pasta minus the sauce, one ate the corn, and one ate the meatballs. Of course they never eat all the food so while I did dishes Goose helped herself to a cupful of shredded cheese.

Eating dinner with children is always messy. Always. Always. Any kind of media that portrays a somewhat clean table where children eat is lying. Oh sure, they try and get you to think that the child made a mess–on their plate. The only way to accurately depict the truth is to make sure that food is all over the table, floor and child. dinner2 (4 of 7)

After all, food is not for eating but for playing…and while I type this that cupful of cheese is now being played with. Great.

Despite the mess that dinner made I was happy that we were at the table together. Even if my oldest, Buttercup, Goose were sticking their tongues out each other and my youngest, Monkey, was grabbing meatballs off of my plate. This is what makes memories. This is what was perfect. I even enjoyed the aftermath when Goose decided to have a tea party with the pitcher of water still on the table. I heard the splatter and dripping of water once I left the room–Monkey poured the whole pitcher out at once. This is my bubble though.

Not So Pinterest Perfect

Not So Pinterest Perfect

For years my sister and I have joked about how much we live in a Pinterest Perfect world. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest. I love the ideas and especially the pictures. I love it! What I do not love is what has happened as a result:  the pressure to live in what I call a Pinterest Perfect world. Everything needs to be perfect. Everything in your home needs to be tidy, including the way you plate your dinner.

One great thing Pinterest has done for me is helped me understand that I want more “pretty” in my life. Why not make things beautiful? It has not done favors in other areas. Not too many years ago I created something and my friend asked if I got it off of Pinterest. Yay!!!! I succeeded. I had not gotten the idea or instruction off of Pinterest. What it did for my self esteem, momentarily, was great. I felt like I had trudged through a battle and was talented enough for someone to think my simple, and likely, crude idea was successful and beautiful enough for Pinterest. I was Pinterest worthy. Then came the downfall. I was not worthy of Pinterest and I knew it. I was a one shot wonder gal and my feelings of success could not last forever.

I continue to learn how to be fine with what I have and be okay with my own progress without caring what Pinterest followers like or do. I have to admit that some of my favorite pins on Pinterest are actually the ones that do not look perfect. Those people had to have the biggest self esteem ever because they were proud enough to share whatever they could do despite the ability for ridicule from internet beasts that feed on imperfections.

As a mother to four children, two that have special needs (one severe, one not so severe), I do not have a Pinterest Perfect world. I have a mess. There are days that I go to bed at night and think that my children must be telling me through their actions, “bring it on Mom.” It is that challenge they give me that keeps me going even through tears and laughter (not always associated with each other but could be present at the same time)….

Believe or not, I also am willing to bet that most moms have a life similar to what I see everyday because children make messes. People live, they have to eat, they use the bathroom, they throw up, they sleep in beds that get messy, and so forth. Some are near perfect at keeping up with the mess. I am not yet perfect in that area because I also play with my kids and am the jungle gym, the horse, the bridge, the hugger, the pillow, the tickle monster, the taxi driver, maid, cook, nurse, counselor, educator, and everything else my children need me to be. So, yeah, “Bring it on Mom!” I’ve got this covered.