Thought I’d Something More to Say

Lately, Daniel has been curious about whether he is bigger than us. He’ll ask when he’s standing on the floor and once again when he’s on his stool at the kitchen counter.  He’ll ask about his hands or his mouth or his head, and each time we answer some variation of, “No, sweet pea, you aren’t. You will be one day, but please don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Please enjoy being little while you can.”

I tweeted earlier in the week, “being an adult is bullshit.”

I don’t really think being an adult is bullshit. Not really. Mostly. But I contrast how much I chafed at the endless restrictions and how eager to grow up I was as a child with the anxiety, stress and responsibility I have now as an adult. My mind is never quiet. It is always thinking about what comes next: planning dinner, getting out clothes, do we have clean uniforms which means someone needs to do laundry if we don’t, is tonight a bath night, is it time to get the bedroom prepared, do we have homework, what are we sending back to school, is tomorrow hot lunch or do I need to pack lunch, each thought a staccato beat in my head, drumming relentlessly.

I think the holidays are where I see the biggest difference between a carefree childhood and care-heavy adulthood. As a child, I basked in the magic of the season. I dreamed about gifts and Santa. When it was time to eat, I sat down at the table. I performed in chorale performances, musicals, plays, blase about the audience. What I wore for the holidays was a priority: velvet, lace, satin, something festive and adorable, hair rolled, a living doll.  On Christmas Day, the focus was on me and my reaction to gifts, keenly watched to observe a gasp of delight or grin.

As the adult, I am the maker of magic. A festive holiday dinner means that I must cook it if I want it to happen.  I research and identify gift ideas, doling them out to family requesting them. Christmas Eve means long hours of assembling gifts and putting them out after Daniel is in dream land. We are the bleary-eyed ones in the morning when he pops up, rested and raring to go.  We are the ones hoping for the delighted gasp or a grin as he sees what Santa brought him.

Then there are the other holiday tasks: making cards, addressing them, mailing them. Deciding whether we schedule a family portrait. Putting up decorations. Buying more decorations when the ones you bought last year no longer work. Trying to make memories via watching holiday specials, going to see light displays, attending special performances. Baking cookies. Listening to holiday music.

No wonder I feel so exhausted and stressed.

I love being the maker of magic for Daniel. Truly. I want him to feel and experience the magic of the season. I want to fire his imagination and see him become excited as he counts down to Christmas. I love seeing his face as he notices his gifts for the first time, and I want him to feel that he is special and that this is a special time of year.  But there is no denying that it is a lot of work!

I don’t think I realized until recently how you shift to the periphery as an adult. You’re backstage, the director. Pulling the strings, choreographing the steps and routines while the child is the star. If my work is good, it’s invisible.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today

I spent so much time wanting to grow up that it came as a surprise to realize I was grown up.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

I think I always thought I’d get a memo or something: KeAnne, you’re an adult now. This is your life. Your one life. You’re living it, doing it. There are no do-overs.

So it comes as a shock to realize that I am in the middle of the only life I’m ever going to have. What I want to do is hit pause. Imagine having the ability to freeze your life, to stop the world from spinning.  You could take a breath and assess, catch up, regain equilibrium and make plans.  I could feel in control of my life instead of feeling like my life is either out of control or in control of me.

To live deliberately.

It’s funny because I only now truly understand what that phrase means. Bad English major!

To live deliberately, something that seems impossible to do when all the responsibilities and must-dos and should-dos are hammering away inside my brain.

Or maybe I’m a weirdo. Are there people out there who have it together, have no worries or anxieties and blithely live their lives, confident that they are living the best life they can?

So my darling boy, please stay young as long as you can. I want your thoughts to be only on playing and having fun. On how many sleeps there are until Santa comes and whether Mommy and Daddy bought a special treat for you. On the love you have for your cuddlies. Enjoy it. Because one day, all to quickly, the world will be too much with you.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Unless You’re in My House

My house is a wreck. There are papers piled on the dining room table and counter tops. Three baskets of laundry sit in the living room floor, and another load sits in the dryer. The hardwood floors are dirty and as of last night, covered with teeny, tiny bits of play dough from Daniel’s starfish making at the kitchen table. There are clean dishes in the dishwasher to unload, dirty dishes in the sink and more pots to be dirtied tonight as I make sides to go with the pork roast I made last night.

The toilets need scrubbing yet again and even though Daniel has been potty trained for well over a year, I’m still cleaning up poo and pee thanks to our geriatric cats, and if it’s not that, it’s a hairball. Toys are everywhere, train cars mixed with garbage cans mixed with pretend food in a way that make me want to lose my mind or break a leg as I hopscotch over them but makes perfect sense to a 4-year-old. Bills to pay. Paperwork to sort. Pre-K homework to do, which is truly a family affair. Pre-K paperwork to sign and library books to keep up with that have to returned to school just so. Glitter. Birthday party invitations. To-do lists taunt us.

We clean. We do. We try to keep up. Usually on the weekends, we’ll try to tackle what needs to be done and we’ll feel good about the state of the house for about 5 minutes until a cup of milk is dropped on the floor or until the sink fills up again, always so quickly. Or the time comes to do another load of laundry, which means it will likely sit in a basket on the living room floor until the next weekend.

It’s so frustrating because there are only three humans in the house. We don’t go out of our way to make a mess.  How can we destroy a house so effectively? Is it our family’s core competency?

It’s so frustrating because there are only three humans in the house. We have one child. Surely we should be able to keep the house clean and stay on top of the dishes and laundry. What excuse can we possibly have for not having pristine toilets?  With our one child, how can we possibly feel so frazzled and brain dead by 8PM?

I don’t know. I keep thinking about it lately because it seems like we should have our shit together better than we do.  It’s true that we both work. I’m out of the house with Daniel by 7:15 every morning and it’s closer to 5:45 when we arrive home. That leaves us with roughly 2 hours to play, fix dinner, get lunches ready, get uniforms ready, take baths, brush teeth, do the nighttime routine and sing songs. We can usually do a load of laundry in that time and load or unload the dishwasher.  Garbage night is on Tuesday. Litter always needs to be scooped.

Maybe the ugly truth is that a pristine house is not a priority. I grew up watching my mom and her sisters scrub their houses from top to bottom.  One of my aunts – who worked full time as a teacher – vacuumed her carpets and swept nightly.  We didn’t have a dishwasher at my house, so every pot, plate and utensil had to be washed by hand.  It was always work before play, and most of the work was done by the adult women.  My mom never tasked me to do any of these chores, so I grew up thinking of cleaning as drudgery. I still think of it as drudgery, but the problem is that now I’m the adult who has to do it.

I suppose I prefer not to.

The thought of spending precious weekend time to clean the house is unappealing to me, especially when the damn house is just going to get dirty again. I want to relax, read a book, play with Jimmy and Daniel.  Is that wrong? Is that so bad?  I feel like I spent most of my life putting work before play with the result being that I seldom got to play. As an adult, can’t I run my house the way I choose? But those “shoulds” have a bad habit of creeping back in.

This morning as Daniel and I were getting ready to leave, Jimmy said he needed to clean a few things before he joined us at my car to say goodbye.  Daniel said, “Our house is clean, daddy.”  I looked at Jimmy and then looked at Daniel and said, “It’s sweet of you to think so.”

Maybe this means that we just keep doing the best we can and accept that we have other priorities than working our fingers to the bone keeping our house clean. Maybe we can give ourselves a house cleaner for Christmas.  But if you’re thinking of coming over, call first, OK? That way we can hide the baskets of laundry and do a cat-hair tumbleweed check.

Bidding Adieu to Old Friends

Just before Halloween in 2005, we hosted a dinner party for us and two other couples.  We served homemade lasagna and baked ziti; after we finished eating, we adjourned to our screened back porch and consumed several bottles of red wine as we debated politics, made plans to move to France together, discussed fertility and potential children and celebrated my recent acceptance to grad school.  Jimmy and I had been in this house only since August, and this was our first real gathering.  Though the night became chilly, the wine kept us warm, and we six chatted until the wee hours of the morning.  Even more miraculously, despite consuming about 8 bottles of wine, most of us escaped hangovers.

That night was a special night.  A wonderful night.  It felt like a perfect moment in which friends come together to eat, drink and make merry.  Having been married for a few years, we 3 couples were comfortable in our marriages and beginning to wonder about what came next.  Some of us were pondering having children very soon. It seemed like everything was falling into place.  Though we didn’t know it, our paths would diverge radically beginning very soon.


I think upon that evening as a perfect night.  That night was magical but unfortunately, it didn’t last because our infertility cast a pall over everything within a few months.  That night was never repeated and likely won’t ever be.  One couple has moved from 15 minutes away to Florida.  The other couple, though only 20 minutes away geographically, is light years away in every other way.


I think about that perfect evening occasionally, especially in the Fall.  Finally, I am in a place in which I can think about it with fondness, not sadness or bitterness.

Today I discovered that the wife in the local couple had unfriended me on Facebook.  We were still Facebook friends as recently as a few months ago, and I wonder what it was that made her unfriend me finally.  Was it my response to her support for Chick-Fil-A?  Was it something else?  Was it even her doing or a weird quirk of Facebook’s? After all, she is still technically “friends” with my husband on Facebook.

Our relationship had been tenuous for years.  Despite my husband being close friends from high school with her and her husband, infertility came between us.  Supposedly we weren’t there for them during their pregnancy.  Somehow, we were blamed for not letting them be there for us during our infertility.

Over the years, olive branches were extended.  Emails exchanged.  Children’s birthday parties attended.  Yet, somehow, relations never improved.  We experienced eerily similar family tragedies and reached out to each other, yet those exchanges led only to temporary repairs.

During our infertility, I brooded over this lost relationship.  Why couldn’t they empathize?  Why couldn’t they just acknowledge that our situation was pretty damn horrific?  I sent a nice gift although I couldn’t attend their baby shower because it was only one week after the lap in which I learned the extent of my damage, and I was a mess.

Once Daniel arrived, we again attempted overtures that led to one-time visits but nothing more.  It hurt, and I wondered why we didn’t make progress. Finally, though, over the last couple of  years, I reached a point of peace with the situation.  Frankly, I didn’t have time to worry about why this couple was still so estranged.  I’m a brooder and worrier by nature, and it was freeing to feel free finally from such concerns.

We made one last series of overtures during the time in which beloved fathers and grandparents were dying in similar circumstances.  Surely, if we ever had a reason to embrace as members of the fatherless club (all 4 of us) or having beloved family members who had died from the same type of cancer, the time was now.  Donations to causes were made.  Emails exchanged.  But it wasn’t enough. It never was enough.

Obviously. Here I find myself defriended from Facebook.  I could email her and ask what is going on and if she intended it or even just to check in, but truthfully, I’m past it.  I’m a little shocked to find myself in that place of peace with this realization because that’s truly not my style (regretfully).  I guess I’m finally tired of not living up to how someone else wants me to behave.  I’m tired of trying to reach out and being rebuffed, punished for not reacting to situations (even our own) like they wanted us to.

Clearly, Jimmy and I, despite a long history with them, are not what this couple needs, and we’re OK with that.  All we wish for them is a happy life and supportive friends and family.  I’ve always understood – even if it’s been difficult to accept – that friendships have a life cycle.  We’ve reached the end of the life cycle with this set of friends.

Friends, I bid you adieu.  Thank you for years we had and the special times we shared.  May you have people in your life who support you the way you need them to do.  Sadly, we could not.

How do you handle broken friendships?