Mommy Is a Hypocrite

There are moments, in parenting, when you suddenly realize how very, very flawed you are. And I had one of those moments the other night.

A constant struggle in our house is The Battle of the Artwork. JavaBoy loves to create art projects — at preschool, in Sunday School, in nature classes, and just on his own. JavaGirl also creates art projects, although unfortunately hers are often on the walls or her body. But JavaBoy’s involve either large pieces of paper or lots of tiny pieces of loose paper, or are very elaborate 3D masterpieces. And I love and cherish every single one of them. I really do. I have magnetic clips to display them on the front door and kitchen door, and I have bought each child oversized portfolios so they can flip through their artwork, but there are some pieces of art that cannot be contained and that do not display well, i.e. the 3D “trophy” JavaBoy so carefully crafted out of construction paper.

Oh sure, the “experts” say take a photo of the artwork and throw out the actual piece. They don’t live with JavaBoy — who has the memory of an elephant. Who remembers that the nutcracker he hasn’t seen in a year — from when he was THREE — is missing a single small wooden piece — even before we unpacked it. JavaBoy is a very sentimental, very precise type of a boy — it is part of what makes him uniquely him and most of the time it’s wonderful — except when you are trying to get rid of something. I can’t sneak things out of the house — when it is time to get rid of a toy, it’s with discussion. So tossing artwork is not an option, unless it’s pre-approved by JavaBoy (and he does, at times, agree, that it is time to let something go.)

But oh-too-many-times I get the “but Mommy, that’s very special to me!” Even if I didn’t see any signs of said artwork being special to him.

So while feeling frustrated about that… I looked around my own private space, my home office slash scrapbooking room. Which has become too cluttered, too crowded. What could I get rid of? How can I make this space a little more zen-like? I couldn’t possibly get rid of anything, it’s all too important to me. I mean all these tools, I still use. All these books. Wait a minute… I have my own pieces of artwork. Pieces I have made in classes. But pieces I don’t necessarily love, just held onto b/c I made them. Like the “coffee table tag book” that I don’t really like. It sits there, with no pictures, because it’s just not “me.” Or rather, it’s not “us.”

I love my husband dearly and I’m a sentimental woman, but he’s more on the stoic side, so our relationship is a solid, but not expressed as a gushy kind of love. Don’t get me wrong, we say “I love you” countless times a day, and JavaDad expresses it in other ways like the way he makes me tea or brings me a Diet Coke every morning and rubs my tired feet every night, but in the scrapbooking world, there are people who feel the need to put sentimental phrases on every photo along the lines of “I think of you with every beat of my heart and every breath in every moment of my day” and this particular coffee table book has that on every page. If I used that and put it on our coffee table (okay, I took all the coffee tables out of the house when JavaBoy cut his head open on the corner of one when he was learning to walk, and haven’t put any back b/c JavaGirl climbed on them, so right now it would more likely be a “train table” book), JavaDad would probably vomit and I would feel very disingenuous and our friends would probably think one of us was having an affair. Truth be told, I think of JavaDad quite frequently throughout the day, but I’m also thinking of things like “gosh this carpet needs cleaning” and “holy cow when did JavaGirl do THAT to the wall” and “didn’t I just GO to the grocery store? How have these children managed to EAT everything in the fridge?” So there are a few other thoughts going on besides how much I adore my man.

So, back to being a hypocrite. I clearly am hanging on to too many things simply because I “created” them. I don’t even LOVE them — I just made them and feel compelled to hang onto them. Perhaps it is time for that tag book to either move along to someone who is more willing to rip her beating heart out for her man for breakfast or to dismantle it and take the parts I do like and put the rest in the trash. The adorable Mark Miller fabric birthday hat with the feather trim that I made at Great American Scrapbook convention? I don’t know — totally love it — it makes me smile — maybe I get to keep that. Maybe I take a picture? But I think I need to sit down and really re-evaluate my own “priceless artwork” stash and set a good example for my son in periodically re-evaluating what is still special and when it is time for things to move along.

Fair, is fair, right?

The Last Place You Look…

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Last night we were frantically searching for my keys — we were heading for the same destination in one car, but I wanted my own set of keys with me.  Usually my keys are on one of the hallway tables as I often am loaded down with ten million kid-related bags when walking through the front door, so I sort of toss the keys as I walk in, so my hands are free to drop bags and wrestle kids into the appropriate places (bathroom, bedroom, whatever).  When I didn’t see them in the usual places, I asked JavaDad to help me expand the search, and he headed off to the kitchen to look.  We looked high and low — looked by my computer, looked in toy bins in case a certain 2.5-year-old had gotten ahold of them — we looked ALL OVER.

We never found them and I had sort of forgotten about it until this morning when I needed to take the kids to school and JavaDad and I once again began the frantic search.  We moved furniture, we searched coat and pants pockets, asked the children to help look, it was getting desperate.  Finally, I asked if JavaDad would just give me his set of keys to my car from his key ring and I headed over to the key ring hooks… the ones in the KITCHEN… to get our spare house key. 

Where my keys were.  Hanging up.  Like they should’ve been.

Yeah.  I thought JavaDad had checked there last night when he headed to the kitchen.  He said he never thought to check there.

As my mother says, you always find things the last place you look!  ; )

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Warning! Warning! Mom’s Got That Crazed Look In Her Eyes Again…

Yep, apparently it’s *that* time of year again!  That time of year when I just can’t stand it one more minute… the dreaded Tupperware® (and really,  how much of it is actually Tupperware???) cabinet needs cleaning out.  I’ve opened that stupid cabinet door just to have things come tumbling out one too many times.

Such is my glamorous life these days.  You can’t just re-arrange the Tupperware cabinet.  Because when you start there, you realize that every cabinet in your kitchen is wrong, all wrong.  And next thing you know, there you are, giving your kitchen an extreme makeover.

So on Friday — our big “unstructured day” where the kids have no school, no classes, no playgroups, etc. I apparently decided to get the cleaning bug — a rare virus around this house.  I kept tossing art project after art project out at the kids as they looked at me with concern in their eyes.  JavaGirl,  age 2.5, almost looked as if she wanted to ask her brother, “Dude, what’s up with Mom?  Do you know how to dial that phone thingie to call Daddy at Work,” (Work being this mysterious place Daddy goes to), “because I’m not sure Mommy is okay.  What’s this cleaning thing she’s doing?  Mommy usually doesn’t let me have art supplies all day long!”

Meanwhile, I was reassessing some of our life choices as I went through each cabinet.  Seriously, where in the world did those three hot pink PLASTIC daquiri glasses come from and why were they cluttering up my glasses cabinet?   Out they went.  For goodness’ sakes, why do we have so many darned pieces of plastic containers anyway?  What do they breed in the middle of the night?

And should anyone we have some sort of cake mix or pudding shortage in the Northern Virginia area anytime soon, just know that I have you covered.  But if there is a corn starch shortage, I’m sorry, you’re out of luck as I had not just one, but TWO boxes that were expired.  Really, how does one do that?

I didn’t realize that JavaDad had squirreled away quite so many party favor bags in the butler’s pantry — ye gads, just as I thought we had gotten rid of all the tiny toys and Halloween candy I found a whole other stash — eek!

But the hours of work in cleaning up and rearranging the kitchen was worth it as I pared down, consolidated and reprioritized things — not just the things themselves, but what I want to accomplish in this kitchen.  I laugh as I look at the very, very dusty martini glasses from Crate and Barrel (whatever happened to those fancy parties I imagined us having when we first got married) and came to realize that even though I’ve never consider myself a baker, my cake pan and baking supplies collection has grown so much — a reflection of my son’s constant requests (and unwavering belief in me) for fancy cakes and cupcakes for almost ever occassion.  Somewhere, somehow, I became a baker.  And yet, I’ve never allocated the appropriate space in my kitchen for that.  I’ve never given that new part of my life it’s proper due in the kitchen — baking supplies were relegated to storage space in because in my “before kids” life that was just a “sometimes” thing.

I so clearly remember looking at this house before we bought it.  We were about to be married and our realtor had just had her baby and she was holding her newborn while we were standing in the kitchen assessing the size of it.  It was then that it struck me that one day *we* would be holding babies in this kitchen.  At the time the kitchen looked so immense — the house we had lived in in CA was so tiny that you either had to step to the left (which meant out the door into the hallway) or to the right when you opened the oven door, but you could not stand in front of the oven when you opened its door.  With its attached butler’s pantry that leads to the dining room, I thought the kitchen would give me plenty of space from which to calmly cook and host dinner parties and couldn’t imagine filling all those cabinets up.  Now, with a bustling family of four, although the kitchen is not small, it always seems to be bursting at the seams with activity — not nearly as spacious as it seemed at that moment in time when we were about to be new homeowners — I have to find storage space in the garage, in the basement — wherever I can — but no doubt about it, the kitchen is the heart of our home.

It started as a way to make the pieces of plastic stop falling down, but I’ve ended up with a better organized kitchen, some renewed priorities, and some sweet reminders of the hopeful new couple who chose this home and the family of four we’ve grown into six years later.

When’s the last time you rearranged your Tupperware cabinet?  Literally… but also figuratively?