Monday, January 18, 2010

A Boy's NIght

Believe it or not, it was actually The Engineer who came up with this idea. The guy who'd rather tinker with his inventions than anything else and to be honest, sometimes has to be gently reminded that his family would like some time with him, decided that the boys needed some one-on-one with each parent on a regular basis. We started Boys' Night about five years ago. The idea is that the boy (and of course we alternate boys) gets to decide the activity, and the parent goes along. The evening sometimes begins before dinner, if it's a designated dinner out night (one in three), or right after dinner (the dishes wait). And here's the kicker: no exceptions. No "just this week we have to skip boys' night because...". No rescheduling. We've made this a priority and it's in PEN on the schedule.

It's been fun to see what the boys pick. At first, all Yellow Boy wanted was miniature golf with Dad. So for about five weeks, all of the budget was spent on mini-golf at the mall. I can't even remember what Diamond and I did, or what Yellow Boy wanted with me. Dad was the one they craved, and I was the consolation. The activities have changed over the years, and the popularity of the parents ebbs and flows. I also had a period of being the popular one. Some nights that really stand out are playing mama bear and baby bear, in the snow, in the dark, on my hands and knees, with my six year old youngest son. Or taking my oldest shopping for his first pair of man pants for his first concert. Watching the first PG-13 movie when Diamond was eleven. Spending an entire evening just watching Yellow Boy play video games, never getting a turn. "No mom, all I want is for you to watch, that's all." Okey dokey then.

There's one special boys' night that stands out from all the others, where Diamond and I really bonded. And I didn't think it was going to go well at all. I'd been invited to a party. My kind of party. A mix and mingle kind of party, catered, for a dear friend who was moving. A friend that had been really close, the kind of friend where you'd sat in a circle and shared the most intimate struggles, worked hard together on seemingly impossible projects that had come together at the last minute with lots of stress but oh so much satisfaction, and then lost touch through the ebb and flow of the circumstances of life. A party I did NOT want to miss. But a party that was to take place on boys' night. SIGH. So I began a campaign of cajoling. "Diamond, wouldn't you like to go to a party with me?" Sure mom, when? During Thanksgiving vacation. Ok. But when he realized it was on boys' night, he changed his mind. But I wore him down. "Just for a little while. Please. We'll do what you want afterwards." So off we went. Immediately he wanted to leave. No one his age. But with food he liked. So I got ten more minutes. He stuck by my side. I wove him into the conversations. He started to have fun. And get more shrimp. And pretty soon he was having fun. So we stayed a bit more. And I started to relax. And he started to relax, and pretty soon he forgot that he wanted to leave. But of course, he's only twelve, and forty-five minutes of small talk and two cokes and he's DONE. And that was three times as long as I thought I was going to get, so off we go. Alas, no time to talk to my friend, but it was a compromise. And in the car he says, "Wow mom, you have nice friends, and that was fun! You can invite me to all your parties!" Nice. So away we go, shoot 'em up bang bang movie waiting for us at home. A bit more bonded, feeling closer.

After all, that's what a boy's night is for.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Organization Therapy

We've heard of retail therapy, of aroma therapy. I propose a new one: organizational therapy. I'm finding it immensely therapeutic to take my anger and angst about my current state of non-employment (and my complete lack of understanding of the whys thereof) out on my hopelessly cluttered home. And I know what you're thinking: how could a perfectionist have a cluttered home? Well it's simple. If that perfectionist is also a sentimental packrat, then she does a PERFECT job of keeping every single thing of sentimental value. Every single item that might one day be needed again. And since she might need them at any moment, most of them are scattered around in piles. I'm a piler. A piler of epically grand proportion. I'm quite perfect at it.

But even I get to the point where it gets to me. It usually goes something like this. I need an item. I know an item is in a certain pile. I search through the pile. I fail to locate said item. I then need to dismantle the pile. But I'm also a practical girl. I do NOT want to do it more than once. So if I get to the "with a fine tooth comb" stage, then the pile gets sorted through, dealt with, and dismantled. The problem is, I haven't needed anything desperately in a VERY LONG TIME. So here I am. I have some extra time on my hands. And some pent up angst. So a lot of piles have gotten this treatment for no particular reason at all. And the one super, duper, mother of all piles is my clothes. It got the treatment just yesterday.

Dealing with your clothes, however, is a special sort of pile, with a lot more baggage than a pile of paper. There are the Bolder Boulder t-shirts, all 5 of them. But I know I used to be a super jock. I know I ran those. I don't need the t-shirts to prove it. So into the hefty bag they go. Those gorgeous sweaters I found on clearance? I'll never wear them. I'm too hot in a t-shirt! Take a deep, breath, a sip of wine, and GIVE THEM AWAY. Do I really need ten black t-shirts? Really? How about 7? Or 5? The ones that are a bit stretched, or with a hole, please, just do this! And let's be honest, how many times have you worn that color? That one comment from your mother, and you've not put it on since. Away it goes. And on it goes. The parachute pants from the 80s. That gorgeous dress that you'll never wear again because c'mon, you're NOT going be 120 pounds again, no matter how many times you rock out the rhythm kung fun on the WiiFit. The sweatshirts with the funny slogans go, because when you actually put on a sweatshirt, it's always the same one. So keep that one, and maybe the school of Mines one for sentimental reasons can stay, too. You're allowed some sentiment, after all, just not a drawer full of it. Give the Turner sweats from when you coached track to the girl you know who is actually on that team NOW. The shorts from the 90s? Buh-BYE! Belts, scarves, hats, leg warmers, blouses, skirts, the parade continues. Faster, faster, it's gets easier and easier until there you stand with organized drawers, closet, cubbies and three hefty bags of donations, a trip down memory lane, tears on your cheeks and an empty wine glass.

After all, lightening your closets benefits not just you, but someone else out there. Bon voyage, memories, bon voyage wardrobe.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Abrupt U-Turn

Ok, so another blow to the whole perfectionism thing.

I wasn't getting a lot of time to blog, or read, or keep house, raise children, cook, clean, study, write lesson plans, sleep, spend time with The Engineer, etc. because I'd gotten a fantastic promotion at work. Great benefits, a chance to create a new department, going full force down a road that was exciting, on a plan that I had created, as a part of a bigger plan The Engineer and I had made with certain milestones along the way in order to achieve that which he has always wanted. His own company. Out of our home. Oh how wrong I was. Oh how hard I was to fall in order for me learn that.

You know how you think you know what God wants you to do by certain things just going your way? Like if you pray for three years for a full-time job with insurance so that your husband doesn't need a job with benefits, and can therefore back away from a traditional job and maybe instead be home during the day, building his own business, and maybe at first, just to make ends meet, deliver pizza (which he has lots of experience in, 15 years actually, first to put himself through school, and then to quickly pay off stupid debt, and then later to send kids to private school). So when full-time comes your way, you think, "Great! This is it! Answer to prayer! Yes!" And happily accept, and merrily go on your way, and hubby has flex time, so you rearrange your schedules and he works 6-4 and you work 9-5 and kids are alone 3:30-4 and life is peachy. You spread out the cooking among the three of you who enjoy it, cram the laundry and shopping into the weekend, stay up a little later, get up a little earlier and all is going along JUST FINE THANK YOU.

But then on just a normal day, you're called into the conference room for what you think is your Christmas bonus and you walk out having your employment terminated. Excuse me God, what is this about? Seriously? Didn't I just get this job? Wasn't I working really hard? What went wrong? Did I not hear you correctly? Why did I get this offer after all this praying if you didn't want me to take it? How am I even to know what you want from me? How does an employee go from praise and thanks and stellar reviews and raises to goodbyedon'tletthedoorhityouhandoverthecreditcardandthekeysdon'tbotherloggingouthereisyour severancesignhereandleaverightnow.

I was crushed. Free fall in a freight elevator. Drop a ton of bricks on my head. Took the wrong turn and ran into a brick wall. Epic Fail (I have a teen ager. It's what they say. I saw the flair on facebook...)

I am now at a loss. I just want to know WHY. They told me some things. These things aren't true to the best of my knowledge. I am a hard worker, conscientious, meticulous, accurate, a FREAKING PERFECTIONIST for Pete's sake. How could this happen? To ME? I'd just like someone to tell me WHY. Then I can process. And go on. Because seriously, what this not as recovered as she thought perfectionist is doing now is driving herself crazy going over every single possible angle for any possible clue as to what she possible could have done. MEANWHILE, the bigger question remains: God was not surprised by this. So what is my lesson? And what is the plan now? Because I certainly am not making any more plans for a while just to have them smashed and crashed and blown to bits.

Yes, I'm a bit bitter and cynical and scared and confused.

After all, no one said life was going to be fair. Or fun. Or make sense. He just promised he'd be with us. And He is. Just wish He'd tell me what to do. NOW. I am also not patient. But that's another post :-)