Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Holiday stress already!

Just when I was safely relaxing in the knowledge that we were staying home for Thanksgiving the phone rang. My brother-in-law just wanted to let us know that the big turkey day at their house with all the relatives is on again. "Great" my husband says as I frantically start making phone calls to the kids and looking for air fares. One already gave up her days off, the other can't get out until Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Fares are enough to make me mortgage the house or give up the summer vacation we were planning. I suppose I could put off retirement another year.

Of course, my husband says, "we don't have to go". Right. His elderly parents are flying out for maybe the last holiday together. How much of a heel would I be to say I'd rather stay home? GRRR. Breathe deeply, let go and repeat the mantra, "I love our family , I love our family, I love our family".

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's not just me

I never thought reading blogs would help me feel normal but that is what happened. I have struggled my entire life with terminal messiness. Laundry (usually clean) spills out of baskets, books and newspapers pile up everywhere, dishes may get done on a flexible schedule and the general clutter overwhelms. I've tried justifying it by saying we are so busy or we are all slobs and collectors but have felt nothing but inadequate. To compound my feelings of inadequacy I am now surrounded in my work life with women who have "perfect" homes. They live in a world where professional decorators color coordinate and place every piece and a cleaning service whisks away anything out of place. I live in fear that one of them might have to pick something up at my house and thereby discover my true nature.

Then this weekend I read several blogs from a group of women like me - women who's lives are not focused the perfect home but the struggle to balance work, family, household and creativity. I AM NOT ABNORMAL - what a freeing thought. Might it be that my secret shame is really the sign of a life well lived? I will do my best not to judge myself by the standards of others (although some days I'm better at that than others). That's not a bad way to start a new week.

Thanks to all who share yours lives and your wisdom with the rest of us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A dad's hug

My dad hugged me goodbye when he left me at the airport. Twice. The best part of every visit is seeing his smiling face waiting for me when I arrive and the hardest part is saying good bye and seeing the tears in his eyes. We celebrated the ninety years of his life this weekend and how precious any time together is. We've both made choices that led us to live nearly 2000 miles apart. I go as often as I can and call every week but the tug of guilt sometimes pains me. If I were a better daughter I would have:

1) Never left my home town
2) Been there to help him when my mom was sick
3) Visited more than once a year when the kids were little
4) Be there to help him in his old age

On my bad days that is the litany I hear in my head. He doesn't say that. There are no recriminations, no criticism (except about my weight, as always). The guilt is mine. On my good days I know he made choices. He decided to stay near his friends rather than move closer to me. He didn't come to visit much when he physically still could. Sometimes it makes it easier.

We celebrated his birthday this weekend. My son and wife came to share dinner with us. They've just moved 2 hours away from him and try to come when they can. We had cake, sang "Happy Birthday" took pictures and had a bang-up time. I took a day and cooked his favorite noodles. We reminisced about old times, old friends and family now gone. We laughed and enjoyed the few short days together

Despite the happiness, he is pensive. The weight of being ninety and knowing time is limited sometimes weighs him down. He wonders why the the opportunity for us to be together with the kids came so late. He's been alone a long time.

Life is bittersweet, a cliche, but true. I hug him goodbye knowing ever time may be the last and plan for the next visit and the smile on his face as I walk through the door.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Is today over yet?

I hate getting ready to go away. I love the actual holiday or vacation but that time before I go always seem catch me by surprise. I know I could have filled my car, gone to the bank and gotten that darn birthday card days ago but once again a book called my name. I used to think I would outgrow that ability to put everything else aside for the feel of a crisp page and a new world to explore. It never happened. It isn't that I lack discipline. I have lots of discipline at work. My children grew up with a love of books, art, theater and music and a tremendous tolerance for dustballs, unmade beds and laundry piles.

So here I am writing my blog, looking longingly at my book while all the time knowing I still have packing and planning to do. Maybe I could wait until morning. . . Maybe if I started out 1/2 hour later .. .. I forgot the cat pan needs to be cleaned. They probably won't wait until I get back Sunday night. Merry has a bad habit of using the bathtub when the cat pan doesn't meet his high standards for cleanliness. I still haven't learned how to use my new camera since I've only had it a month. I could do that on the plane except I'll probably be reading.

I see a pattern emerging here. The issue isn't really the preparation to leave it is MY ADDICTION TO READING. As addictions go, that is a pretty mild one. Just a page of two wouldn't be a problem. And somehow I do always manage to get where I'm going.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Can't wait for the weekend

I am on my way tomorrow to spend the weekend helping my dad celebrate his 90th birthday. He's happy I'm coming but not so happy about the reason. He's made it clear that being 90 isn't that great but does beat the alternative. Spending time with him is a delight but makes me slow down about 10 levels which is probably for the best. I always come back relaxed and refreshed so it probably is better and cheaper than an expensive spa!