Thursday, January 30, 2014

The great 'Who Needs It' - Challenge #1

(The WHYs are coming. I promise. I have been thinking about it a lot).

Challenge #1 = Fessing up. Below is my version.

I didn't really know SRB. She was Bunny's friend and left great comments on her blog, but I had not followed her before. But then Bunny posted about the Who Needs It challenge, which meant I clicked over to SRB's site and you can imagine what came next. LOVE. Maybe hyperbolic, but STRONG LIKING.

SRB is inviting us, ever lovingly and peacefully, to join her on a de-cluttering adventure. She wants to start with her house (and ours) and move on to her heart. A woman after mine, I say.

It turns out, I have major issues with clutter. Major. And my husband is worse than me. So, we make a fine pair. The only thing is that he isn't bothered at all by his mountains of disorganized shit, and  I AM (by mine and his). And I have been acutely aware of how much the stuff weighs on my psyche. It's like a glom-filled alien that is sucking the life right out of me (maybe more like a zombie eating my brain). I spend so much time noticing the clutter and zero time doing anything about it.*

So this is my entry, just under the wire, of Challenge #1.

There are several areas of my home that are cluttered. My home is more clutter than harmony. I think I could create the world's most boring blog post if I tried to list everything here. I'll start small, with the two shelves flanking the window in the dining room.

Right side

What you see here: plants, cookbooks, plastic bag full of baby proofing stuff, a hot plate thingy, a soda stream (vital to our well being), a bunch of meds for Chicken that we didn't use hiding behind the soda stream, 2 shelves full of Gummy's formula/eating apparel (bottles, caps, nipples, formula, prunes!, spoons, containers, utensils), random candleholders, cypress oil used at Christmas to make it smell Christmassy, the candle-holder-given-to-me-by-Northern-Lad's-parents-a-million-years-ago-but-oh-my- do-I-love-it. Top shelf has vases, a few candles and a picture.

Left side
On this side, you see: world's messiest basket of teas, crappy coffee maker because our good one broke and mommy and daddy cannot get through the day without brown formula, Music Together Flute CD case, radio/CD player, pot overfilled with extension cords and rechargeable batteries, hot plate holders, wooden mortar and pestle, small bowls/tea cups, 2 extremely worn down teapots, one sauce boat (for people who mostly eat vegetarian at home. Don't ask why I put it on the wedding registry). On the 3rd shelf there is a wine jug that I use to make smoothies, a crystal decanter, 7 of the 12 riedel wine glasses we got at our wedding. On the 4th shelf lives a pottery bean pot given to us by the in-laws, a couple of beer steins that are used twice a year, 2 champagne flutes that my husband got at his high school graduation (1992) that he insists on keeping, 2 small wine glasses given to us by VIA Rail on the occasion of travelling by train for our honeymoon. Top most shelf has a ceramic flower vase and a great pottery salad bowl given to us by Oat's parents.

Phew! Even my description of the stuff is cluttered.

And then, there is this

Our kitchen is a great one if you happen to be a single person who hates to cook. Our family has two adults who like to cook, a cat who likes to hang out in the kitchen and a Gummy Girl who is just on the brink of being on the move. We would love to have a pantry big enough to put our food (we have endless jars of legumes and grains), but we don't. Hence, what you see above. Just 45 minutes ago, Gummy was bum scootching her way over there to inspect those different flours we have stored in bins. It is about to get messy and dangerous. I want all those things to either disappear or be stored on those shelves seen above. And somehow not look cluttered? Right.

To review:

1) The clutter is like a zombie - endangering my life
2) The clutter is tempting Gummy - endangering my child's life

So there's my motivation.

Other areas, in no particular order:

  • Kitchen cupboards - all of them
  • living room coffee tables
  • front hall external closet and hooks
  • bathroom shelf 
  • bedroom closet
    Bunny, if you want to reconsider our
    friendship, I will understand.
  • upstairs hallway linnen closet (the door barely closes) 
  • The Study (Oh, the study - it is one inchoate mass of stuff in there, which is why I avoid it like the plague and only dump things I don't know where else to put. To prove this, here's my desk

  • And finally, the basement. The basement didn't get to be photographed because it is too ugly down there. If all the other areas/rooms in the house are chapters in a book, the basement is the Encyclopedia Britannica. 
So, I've fessed up. It's hard. I feel like you will read this post and like me less. My house is messy. I don't have my shit together (or my shit has me by the collar). But at least I'm real. I'll give challenge #2 a go in a few days. But I wanted to start here.  

*Because it's all Gummy all the time

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day care days - part 2

(If you want to read part one, go here. )

So, I'm going back to work in 5 weeks.

(I'm just going to let that hang for a second).

Yes, a year of maternity goes by very fast. I can't even begin to imagine 12 weeks of maternity leave. I feel like a cliché, but all that I've heard about how fast it goes is true. I blinked and here we are. But of course, it's paradoxical. There were moments, days, weeks that went at a snail's pace. Like when she had the flu and then had a cold and we couldn't go out for 2 weeks. That was slow. Or when Mr. A was working such long hours in the summer and I had to solo parent for big chunks of time.

I've been in touch with my boss and it appears that I've lucked out in the re-structuring of our department. This isn't true for every psychologist, but it is for me and I am grateful. I am returning to meaningful, challenging work. I am looking forward to returning to work. I've missed it and it feels time to go back already. I am so much better at being a psychologist than at keeping house. I actually suck at it. My house looks like hell and I am only a mediocre cook. I think I am a decent caregiver to my darling girl, but I've sucked at being a wife pretty much from the get go, and having a baby only worsened it. I feel like this sounds awful, but I am looking forward to doing something I'm good at again. My self-esteem is at basement levels these days, and it could use the boost.

This is a two sided coin, of course. I am NOT looking forward to the transition. I know that it will be the hardest part: going from taking care of Gummy one day to driving to work and returning when she's going to bed the other. I will miss her beyond what I can anticipate. I will cry when she takes her first step and I'm not there to see it. It will tug at my heart in 10 000 ways. But just like every difficult thing I've had to do in my life, I will just keep in mind the WHY*.

I like the transition plan we've got. In March, Gummy will be home with Mr. A on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I asked for every Friday off in March so that I could be with her on weekday per week. In April, she will go to day care 3 days per week, and be with Mr. A on 2 days. I like that I can go back to work for a month without worrying about her adjusting to day care. And I like that she will be home with her dad for at least the next 9 to 12 months. She is a BIG fan of her dad's. (I am too, as it were).

I still don't really like the day care where she'll be going, but I know that it is 'good enough'. I've also just heard this week that the French day care will be accepting younger kids as of September, which means Gummy can go sooner than 2.5 years.

But before this big transition, I plan on enjoying those last 5 weeks. We are still signed up for music classes and swimming, and loving it! And we have one last family vacation before I go back to work. I'm really looking forward to our winter trip up north, which will involve snowshoeing, skiing and teaching Gummy how to make snow angels.

*I started writing what the WHYs were, and realized it had the potential to piss off a bunch of readers and I'm not in the mood to piss people off today, so maybe I'll write about the WHYs another day. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

baby showers = still hard

During those difficult years "in the trenches", I declared a moratorium on baby showers. I made no exceptions. I tried to show women I loved who were having babies that I loved them and supported their entry into motherhood in other ways. But going to a baby shower, however much I loved the guest of honour, cost too much emotionally. I was already near emotional bankruptcy, and just couldn't afford it. 

This approach is not shared by all infertile women, and I respect people's individual choices. I think we each go through different experiences and figure out what we can do and what we can't. For me, a gathering of women celebrating the one big dream I wasn't sure I would ever get to fulfill was too much. That was an automatic no for me, so much so that I stopped being invited altogether. 

Then I got pregnant (again) (and this time for a longer time and it resulted in a living baby). 

My dear, lovely, generous friends wanted to have a gathering for me. I politely declined. I could not bring myself to go through with that, for many reasons. I felt guilty for not having shown up at so many baby showers, and not having supported many of my friends through early motherhood. I felt like at this point, I had grown to HATE baby showers and so why the fuck would I want one. I wondered if I needed to believe I was going to have a baby to have a baby shower, and unsure of the answer, I had to  forgo the experience. 

I don't feel like I missed out. 

(but tell me if you think I did)

I went to a baby shower this afternoon. My first one in....shit....I can't even remember. It was a lovely gathering of women for Lianne, this great woman I know a little bit and like very much. I wanted to be there especially because she has struggled psychologically with some aspects of expecting a child and turned to me for support. In turn, I wanted to show my support by joining in the gathering. 

It started early last week. I found myself complaining, complaining, and complaining some more to Mr. A about ALL the crap I had to do for this stupid shower. Bring cheeses and crackers. Bring a photo. Bring a bead. Bring a fucking affirmation. 'This is too much', I thought. 'The excessive meaningfulness is going to make me vomit' (and I did vomit, but that was because Gummy gave me the stomach flu by vomiting on me twice). 

But last night, as I was flossing, I thought "Augusta, what the hell is up with all your complaining about this shower?" I had to admit to myself a few things: 

1) I still felt anxious about going to baby showers.
2) I had nothing to offer a woman about to give birth on the topic of birth. 
3) I was scared for Lianne. In my mind giving birth is still scarier than meeting the Yeti. 

It was good to have an honest conversation with myself about these things. I could check my fears at the door today, and try to make this experience about Lianne and not about me. 

I went to the shower and it was mostly uncomfortable. The excessive meaningfulness did make me want to vomit at times, but I could also find it meaningful and sweet. Of course, when it came time to read affirmations, people had all these lovely wishes for the mother-to-be. I, on the other hand, pulled out a quote from psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott* and sobered the mood right up. 

There was a game of trying to guess whose were the baby pictures on a board, and people talked about wether their babies looked more like them or their husbands. Always an interesting one for a DE mom. And then I tried talking to a friend I hadn't seen since April and she wouldn't even look at me. There were other parts too, good parts, but I left feeling like I just had been at a gathering of ornithologists and all I know about birds is that blue jays are blue.  

I'm not ready to reinstate the moratorium, but I would say these darn baby showers are still hard. I've got a few more coming up, and I probably need to spend less time complaining to Mr. A and a little more time shoring up the necessary inner resources to attend. 

*"I would rather be the child of a mother who has all the inner conflicts of the human being than be mothered by someone for whom al l is easy and smooth, who knows all the answers, and is a stranger to doubt."

Saturday, January 18, 2014


"You can get rid of those needles, Mom. I'm here now!"