Fly in the Mouth @ The Intersection of Relaxation and You Gotta Be Kidding Me – Webster

Hold on – I need to brush my teeth with Listerine and fire…

k, back..

I finally did a last round through the ole inboxes: making sure I knew my work calendar (blocking myself with tentative forewarning from 8a – 9a “I’ll accept your meeting but may be troubleshooting zoom”) and making sure I knew just what a 2nd grader should be doing during “independent work”.

I truly can’t imagine being a teacher. I had a nice, healthy – helpful response from Maddox’s teacher and I just felt like “man”. She taught these kids all day and is responding to me, on behalf of my kid, in depth. I am just absolutely amazed by their stamina.

I yelled at the girls last night. First time laying into the quad of teens – a signature mom move “I don’t care who, I don’t care when, I don’t want to hear why, I don’t need to know what – all I need is to tell each of you this one time and one time only: go. to. bed.”

Period.

Thing is – I don’t do well on little sleep. Any spat David and I have can for sure be assumed to have some degree of “Erin needs to go to bed” at play. My mind gets overwhelmed, I can’t spit words out, I just need people to understand and all I want to do is close my eyes.

So, naturally, when back to school hits and your job as parent becomes: Tech Support, Task Manager, Snack Guardian, Waitress, Secretary, and Accountability Partner (all which are going on my LinkedIn) on top of Cook, Household Operations Manager, General Keeper Upper of Things and Loving Devoted Wife *on top of* a 40 hr week full time job supporting four priority efforts on a team that is new and requiring massive change management communication and your teenagers wake you up at midnight laughing about the internet? Yeah. You take them to task.

If I were a teacher, I think it’s possible I would yell at my students if I was tired.

The one thing I am being careful about is not feeling sorry for myself. I can feel the tendency and I can even, sometimes, feel David’s expectation that maybe I’m in a funk. But even when I am doing something that is not, technically, “my task” – I am doing it not to be proud but because it’s when I need the task done, so I will do it, reminding myself that I am choosing to do it.

I also feel that it is an honor to be trusted with people. Kind of a slap in the face to be be trusted with 3 cats but 6 people? That’s kind of amazing.

And that isn’t me being sunshine and rainbows. I like them feeling both guided towards expectations (really with the Ritz cracker crumbs on the floor? You didn’t see that and clean up after yourself?) as well as cared for and allowed to focus on the things they need to. I care about these things as much as I value a well run house, finished laundry and stocked toilet paper.

I love the feeling of accomplishment, certainty and seeming control that fresh towels in all the bathrooms provides; especially during a global pandemic. During a time where so much is just, well, chaotic; a perfectly folded stack of towels and reliable source of washcloths – inclusive for everybody – is a really meaningful thing to be able to provide.

In a time where I am not “doing my best” only “doing”, towels cleaned and available is my bar.

Ok, my friends. It’s 7:15 and the taste of the fly that drowned in my strawberry, lemon & basil seltzer is finally out of my mouth. The weird “is that taco or is that a fly” sensation still looms a little on my tongue, but it is nothing a four click user path to get to a zoom call link and passcode can’t top as the worst thing ever.

To all the parents out their distant learning, I hope you don’t also have flies in your house.

Honestly? Where did they come from…

Reality Check One Two, One Two @ Waiting on the Coffee, Sitting on the Couch – Webster

I was so excited to sit and write a post that started with something like “everybody agrees how bad I am at Mario Kart makes zero sense given how good (actually I would say stellar) I was driving through Idaho’s curves”.

But the reality is this post is coming by way of early morning time to write due to household cat management. It’s not really an inspired moment of reflection on our road trip home. (Trust me when I say, I have a lot to share on the days in between now and the post I wrote sitting on the couch on the front deck of our house in Bellingham.)

As I am writing this, I am interrupted by our resident cat coming *out of nowhere* and screeching as she pounced on new comer cat’s paw curiously poking out from the bottom of the basement door. Cat. Management.

We have this circus cycle of cats to litter box, cats to outside, cats to basement rotation going on as we (please dear God make this work) acquaint and blend our combined three cats.

Kids are blending fine. So fine that they apparently do not sleep and I hear both sets of new sisters rounding out their “all nighters” upstairs. Good. Grief.

Personally, I am recognizing this cat wake up call this morning as an introduction to being in front of a computer screen at 5:30a as I plan to work early once the kids are back in school so I can break mid day for a couple of hours to do the whole lunch, “what are you learning”, “let’s do science” thing.

The lunch part of that equation is especially important as the teens “free feed” which, you know, makes everything harder (per a cat article on how to introduce new cats…) The weeks we did an established lunch time during quarantine seemed to work out well.

….Except now I am not sure what meal you call what they eat at noon… per some quarantine inspired song lyrics I wrote, “dinner is breakfast, and breakfast is dinner, and lunch is all the time….”

All of this to say – The reality checks will happen. All nighters will meet all day zoom school starting Monday. The cats will eventually cross actual paths. My work schedule is going to have to get serious.

And with those upcoming cruxes (life is really just a climbing route), there are plenty of other new, less challenging, realities: that I am deeply charged by when all 5 kids are together, the humor David and I find in our combined calico of cats and kids, and the confidence we have in our current phase… being in the same bed every night. These are rich, live-giving things.

I, of course, have a short list of observations and sentimentalities to explore and share. I, of course, have things I am learning and leaning into. Specifically, this notion of “being the generous and just queen” and handling blips a little better… like when my stepdaughter assumed my chimichanga was hers and asked me to remove the toppings. Rather than being a generous and just queen “oh! I thought you had your dinner, here, let’s split it”, I forfeited my longed for Mexican, nearly cried and let that moment mean more than necessary.

I had the hardest time falling asleep that night processing how I wished I had assumed my power as the woman who will be showing this young girl how to be kind and fair and generous. Then feeling the relief that I get to try again the next day. Then the wash of “man, why did I act like one of the kids”, with then the relief of “now you know”.

Ah, the cycle of process and growth…

I do need to acknowledge the role of fatigue and hunger in those moments; causing me to not handle things as well as I did the winding roads in Idaho. It’s just plain science that I will have moments where reactions are human reactions and not the strategies of well rested royalty. It’s just, I suppose, a reality check to self care and to fold in and to communicate gently.

Anyway. It’s been a couple of days so I have a lot starting to bubble up and work itself out in words and phrasing. But it’s time to wrap it up and have a little coffee time with the husband.

…It is such a neat season to be paying attention. //

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According to Ellen (who did not sleep and is walking to Starbucks as we speak with Aria), I am waiting to knock out some cats with my Captain America shield.
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Scene from last night while three pizzas, 30 toasted raviolis, 1/4 watermelon, a quart of strawberries and salad were put out on the buffet. :)