thepigeoncoop

Musings about life in the Pigeon household


Leave a comment

The Coddling

I’ve written before about how I want my boys to grow up to be independent people. Able to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Be courteous and respectful. Treat others as they would like to be treated regardless of race and religion.

And while all that is really important, I think I’m forgetting a few major items on my list.

Like doing your own laundry. Making lunches for school. Being able to decipher your own activities listed on the fridge calendar. Go out on a limb and put your brothers’ things away at the back door – yes, even if it isn’t your stuff. Wipe the table without me having to remind (aka nag) eight times.

In other words – don’t depend on me for the rest of your life. I guess that goes back to the very first sentence in my post. Be independent. I need to remember this.

But I think I perpetuate their dependence. I’m up in the mornings, making a big breakfast before school, making sure everyone has a fruit and a veg in their lunches, reminding kids three times over to put their glasses on and remember their school books and wear boots rather than sandals because it is monsoon season on the prairies, at the end of the day, I’m making dinner on my own while everyone else in the house is in front of a screen…

And where does that get me? Most breakfasts go half-eaten and dishes remain on the kitchen table. Lunches come home with everything eaten but the fruit and veg. Kids head off to school with glasses in their pants pockets and books remain on the floor at the front door so I can stare at them all day, determined to have the boys pick them up when they get home from school… only to forget myself and then they end up sitting in the front hall for three weeks…

Hubby gets miffed because I’m coddling. I’m spoiling them. I’m doing too much for them. They don’t appreciate the effort.

True, true and true.

When hubby is at home with them in the mornings he has them make their own breakfast. He still makes lunches, but doesn’t give as much food so they will hopefully be hungry enough to eat the fruit and veg. Books still don’t always seem to make it to school – it doesn’t matter who is in charge.

But the last person in the world to give me a hard time about coddling shouldn’t be hubby. Seriously.

I’m going away for the weekend tomorrow. And I really do wish hubby was coming with me – he would have a hoot visiting my family. But his work and our childcare situation just aren’t meshing for us this time around and he’s staying home with the kids.

Do I worry about him with them? No way.

He took them all on his own to Edmonton (three hours away) for a soccer tournament weekend.

I was out of town (yes, again. No judging in my posts, thank you very much).

He shuttled them to and from the pool, to West Edmonton Mall, back to the hotel, to the pool, to restaurants and to the pool again and to a few soccer games in between. He did great.

And when I told friends and family that he was doing this all on his own, they were amazed. They were impressed. They looked upon him with a new-found respect.

Now let’s be clear here. Hubby is an awesome Dad. Always has been. Since the boys were born, hubby has been in the trenches changing diapers, cleaning spit-up, wiping pureed-carrot out of baby-crevices that no one should have to wipe pureed-carrot out of…

But does going away with three boys for a weekend make him super-dad? Not in my mind. Not in his either. He can’t believe the fuss my friends made over him doing this on his own.

To be honest though, I did build him up at the time and oohed and aaahed along with my besties over how great it was that he did all that work and travel on his own with three boys.

Otherwise known as parenting.

I’ve traveled on a plane and in a car and public transit by myself countless times with these same three ankle-biters. No medal was presented to me!

And hubby thinks the same way. You do whatcha gotta do for your kids.

Which is an awesome attitude and very true and makes me love him even more.

He is a capable, responsible man.

That’s why I’m a little shocked by the both us this past week. I think we’re reverting back to the ’50s style couple with me going away this weekend.

Why you ask? Because last week, hubby was talking to me about everything that needs to be done in this joint and my impending trip came up. And he said to me, ‘can you try and get this house in order before you leave?’

And at the time I took a bit of offense to that. Yes I’m not working and yes I have pretty much all day to clean. But I’m not the only one living here and a little help from the other inhabitants would be handy.

Then I took a step back… I think he meant could I get everything in order in the house for while I’m away…

So I took that to mean organize soccer gear for the boys so everyone can find it, pre-make dinners so when hubby comes home from work he can just re-heat food. I even asked him if he’d like me to make up a schedule of everything going on this weekend so nothing is missed… and he said yes…

On a side note, I have to say that out of all the weekends in June for me to go away, this one is probably the worst. Busy busy busy. With everyone in soccer – one is winding up with his team, the other is in City Championships this weekend, there are birthday parties, hang outs and don’t even get me started on the class activities taking place for the last week of school….

So while I drew the line at making dinners for the lads before I take off, I did actually make a schedule. And I will try my hardest to organize and clean the house today before I leave tomorrow.

Am I perpetuating the dependence of hubby? I think I absolutely am.

And I’m pretty darn sure there were no meals or planning or anything done before he left for his golf trip two weeks ago, or for any Grey Cup since I’ve met him, if memory serves…

Coddling?

Hello, Pot? What colour is that kettle over there?

On the other hand, the man will get the lawn cut for me before he heads out of town. And before his last trip away he put together our new patio table for me to enjoy while he was away… and literally just ten minutes ago he was out in the muck and wet changing the tire on my van so he could take it to the garage to be fixed.

So there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that gets done on both sides. Coddling? Maybe. Depends on your point of view.

We’ve been married for almost 16 years now and together for 19. I think its okay once in a while to do something for the other person that makes their day/weekend/life a little easier and a little better.

That includes the kids too. Just wish that little exchange went both ways a little bit more than it does… maybe in time…

And hey, if it eases my mind to make a schedule while I’m away so I can concentrate on my cousin’s birthday party bash? All the better!

And on that note – Happy Birthday Grant – start decanting the wine… I’ll be there soon!


4 Comments

Karma

What goes around, comes around.

I tried Googling other phrases to describe Karma and the best I could come up with was some granola-crunching statements that left me wanting… so I searched the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s iconic song Turn Turn Turn, only to find out it is actually the Byrds’ iconic song and then the powerful statement of ‘a time to plant, a time to reap’ while still potent, lost a bit of its sparkle for me…

But wow, searching through Simon and Garfunkel’s library of songs made me realize how many hits they truly had… they were pretty amazing…

Anyway. Karma.

I believe it is a bitch.

And I have been trying to live my life lately truly believing that every good turn deserves another.

Or as Oprah said (cue the Google search again), ‘what you put out, comes back – all the time.’

So I have been trying hard to put out the good. Not always easy. But maybe if I put it out there, it will be for a purpose and good will come back.

And this idea has been in the back of my mind for quite a while and I’ve been trying to put out the good to family and friends and in general when dealing with people and making choices on how to live my life.

So it really pisses me off when I try to get all Pollyanna on people and they end up screwing me in the end.

And I’m left feeling let down, frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned…

And that’s when I call on all the cosmic forces of the universe to rain down some good old-fashioned bad-ass Karma on those people so intent on causing drama and strife in my life.

It has been my mantra that what goes around, comes around. I repeat it over and over and I need to believe this. Sometimes it is all you have left because there is nothing else for you to do in a situation and if you don’t believe that something out there will ensure the scales of justice will once again balance (preferably in my favour), then you can drive yourself crazy with thoughts of how unfair everything is.

And I’m not the only one grasping at the Karmic straw. There are a bunch of others out there diligently believing in this idea. Just last night I saw a post on Facebook where a friend wrote that she hopes that what goes around, comes around.

Vehemently hoping.

Hope is powerful. Vehemently hoping has got to work sooner or later because you are hoping for something with every fibre of your being. It is pretty intense stuff.

I find that I do the same. I hold fervent, zealous hope.

I will focus my Karmic power, as it is, and ask it to go forth, search out any wrong-doers in my life and smite those that pissed me off.

But for all my rambling and hoping and Karma-ray-gun-shooting, I think there is a fine line to tread with this.

Because some people out there scoff at the Karma idea. If in fact it doesn’t exist, does your particular situation whittle down to just you being petty and wanting revenge?

At least with calling it Karma, then you don’t seem like such a pathetic weenie hell-bent on ensuring someone else’s doom.

And I have a question here. What does it mean when you’re the one being treated like crap? Is that Karma coming back to bite YOU in the butt?

What did I do to deserve this? Why me?

We all know those questions that rattle around in our heads. Some days those whiny demands roll around in my noggin more than ‘what goes around comes around’…. and everyone needs a good-old-fashioned pity party once in a blue moon. I would never deny anyone the chance to sit on the couch, stuff their face full of the kids’ chocolate bars and watch a marathon of Sex and the City. You can’t pay for better therapy in my opinion. Yet another cog in the wheel of dealing with what life (or Karma or what have you) dishes out.

And on that note, I think I need to mention while searching websites for different sayings on Karma, I found one that stuck with me;

‘Worthless people blame their karma.’

Ouch.

Fair enough, I guess.  I can’t go around spouting out about how Karma is in charge and the grand scheme of the universe changes every time someone does or doesn’t do a good deed or recycle or use leaded vs. unleaded…  At some point we are responsible for our own actions.

So now this means I have to delve inside, review my past actions leading up to the bad treatment I’ve recently received and wonder if I could have changed things… could I have done something different? Was the treatment really all that bad? Maybe I’m to blame for what ultimately ended in my self-perceived notion of unfair handling…

Maybe my behaviour within the situation led to the way things turned out.

If I want to believe in Karma, could it be that maybe something from two years ago played a role in what happened?

Maybe something as far back as ten years?

If we go back any further, I could seriously be screwed for life…

 


Leave a comment

Get Ready, Get Set…

So this is me; not working.

My job ended about three or four weeks ago… I’m not sure. It has all been a blur of house cleaning, shopping, running errands, kids’ activities, a couple of lunches here and there, trips to the gym, field trips, planning for other trips…

As a friend asked the other day – how in the world did I ever find time to work?

And I was only part time!

Since the job ended, I have been looking for work in between all the other stuff going on. I’ve sent in resumes, talked with contacts, met with a couple of people over possible opportunities…

But I have to be honest here – as much as I like money, the idea of not working over the summer is hugely appealing. The chance to have one more summer with my boys interferes with the thought of how much the extra cash would be so incredibly helpful…

And the further into June we get, the more I think about this.

The days that aren’t filled with monsoon-like weather, where I actually get to see the sunshine… yeah, working in an office right now isn’t quite as appealing as say, heading to the beach with the Pigeon boys, getting out to our trailer, going for a bike ride, or even just sitting in the backyard eating popsicles and hanging out…

How many more summers will I have where I get to be with my kids like this?

How many more summers will I have where they’ll actually want to be with me?

My problem is, I have these great ideas of what summer could be – a fun-filled, adventurous-yet-relaxing two-months with my boys.

But already, being back at home is proving to be a little less than rewarding…

Case in point – breakfast. I believe most days in sending the ankle-biters off with a big breakfast. Smoothie, eggs, toast, whatever fills you up and isn’t going to make you crash ten minutes after the school bell rings (like the kind of cereal they beg for, but only get when we’re camping; sugar-laden and hunger-inducing)…

So I spend most of my mornings catering to the boys. I don’t mind doing this. Being off work means I get to do this and I enjoy it for the most part. I drink my coffee, I talk with the boys (as much as you can chat with them while they are engrossed in some cartoon), I scramble eggs, cook bacon and toast bagels…

And then it starts.

Maybe it is because it is June and everyone is losing their minds waiting for school to end.

Maybe my boys are just useless, spoiled pinheads.

Regardless, the battle ensues to get dishes put away, the table cleaned off, teeth brushed, hair brushed, faces washed…

Basic stuff they’ve been doing since they were kindergarten-age… and I still have to nag over this?

Really?

They are eight, nine and almost eleven. Are you kidding me with this?

Coddling. That’s my problem. I think I coddle too much.

I figure I’ll either do it myself (martyr) or I’ll do it myself (easier than yelling) or I’ll do it myself (and yell the whole time while doing it)…

Some days I really miss working.

Okay, so am I going to go through the summer like this? I think not.

I enjoy doing things for my family, but I’m drawing some boundaries now. I am not a rug to be walked all over.

So if you don’t clean up your spot at the table, the crumbs will be there when you have your next meal.

If you don’t put your clothes in the hamper, they will stay dirty.

Like that mom who went on strike…

Maybe the threats need to stop and I actually need to do it…

Follow through. Yeah.

I have all kinds of lovely thoughts of throwing toys in the garbage, banning video games and taking away play dates and bike time…

But what kind of summer would that give me? Three days into summer vacay and I’ll be praying for September to start.

So as excited as I am that I could actually not be working this summer (shhh… don’t tell hubby), a plan needs to be put in place. Definitely need a plan. One where I don’t lose my mind over the state of this house and the laziness and mindlessness (is that a word?) of my children…

A plan is forming… wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

 


Leave a comment

Strike Time (aka Need and Want)

I don’t have elaborate social circles, but in the ones I consider myself belonging to, there has been a lot of talk lately about the Calgary Mom who went on strike. In her own home.

She posted a blog about it and even got on the Today show with this ingenious idea.

I’ll be honest; I’m not up on all the current events of the day. I’m not the most with-it when it comes to goings-on in our world.

In fact, I didn’t even hear about doing anything Gangnam-Style until about two weeks ago.

So I finally heard about this blog through word of mouth and on Facebook. I checked it out. I didn’t read it all to be honest, but I skimmed through and it looked pretty funny. I’ve been meaning to get back on there and go over it more thoroughly, but it has been a crazy couple of weeks around the Pigeon Coop (somehow I’ve managed to see the Psy music video about three times via my kids in the last two days though… hmmm…).

But this thought about the mom going on strike. I found it intriguing.

So the jist that I got from it is – a Mom was tired of cleaning and doing it all. So she went on strike and refused to clean her home anymore, leaving the job to the rest of her family…

Now let’s back up a bit here. I’ve been back in the work force now for a full year. And while I’m a consultant and can choose my own hours, projects have been bombarding me at work.

I relish the responsibility being handed to me, but it is non-stop and my idyllic part-time job of three days a week has exploded into almost full-time hours and I’m even thinking of going in Sunday to try and catch up…

Where does this leave the state of my house?

Well, let’s just say that as much as I’d like to go on strike around here, I honestly don’t think anyone would notice a difference.

And I’m not kidding.

I can hear it now with my announcement to hubby, “Hey. I’m sick of the state of this house and having to pick up after these three boys of ours.”

“I hear you, honey.” (He’s always so attentive and never on his cell phone, so he actually hears me the first time in my daydreams, “here, have some peeled grapes. Let me feed them to you.”

My daydream. Go get your own.

“I’ve had it.” I’ll continue, “I can’t do this anymore. This place is a dump. I’m working all day and none of these kids lift a finger to help clean up our home. I’m tired of the whining… the complaining when they’re asked to help. This place is a sty. I’m going on strike.”

Hubby pauses. And backs away a few steps. “Strike? Going on strike?”

“Yes.” I respond, thinking that this is exactly the sort of shock value I’m after. “I’m going on strike. I’m not doing this anymore.”

“Soooo… you aren’t cleaning the house anymore?”

“Right on. Now be a good daydream-hubby and give me a back rub.”

“You refuse to clean? You aren’t cleaning? Right… so what else is new?… Hey… where’s my cell phone?”

And that’s when I come hurtling back to reality.

Truth is, I will never be remembered for my cleaning capabilities. Or even my desire to clean.

I have a strong desire for a clean home; but I don’t want to be the one doing it.

Ever.

Back in the day when the kids were young, I would clean and keep the place tidy…

Or at least it seemed a lot easier back then some days.

Okay, not really. I wanted to spend my days with the boys and more often than not we’d be out all day and by the time hubby walked in the door exhausted from long days spent working, he would be faced with a messy home.

I now know how he feels.

I need a cleaning lady.

But for that, I need to clean up first. I can’t have someone see my house like this.

I would be way too embarrassed to have someone come into my home with the way it looks right now and expect them to clean it.

I would at least need to pick up everything off the floor.

What I need is an organizer.

One of those people who come into your home to help you find a place for everything and everything goes in its place.

Maybe that would keep things off my floor… and the couch… and the kitchen stools and kitchen table and kitchen island…

 

Kitchen Island – typical day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You mean you don’t shove all the papers collected on the kitchen island into a drawer?

Boots, shoes, backpacks and jackets don’t need to be hauled into a closet?

Anything with a door is my friend.

That includes my bedroom door. The worst offender for hiding things from family and friends when they come over.

Our master bedroom is used for everything from homework papers and books to toys to laundry to Halloween decorations to tools (and I ain’t talking about the fun sort of tools you want in the boudoir)…

So I definitely need an organizer.

But it just seems like a lot of work to research companies and find someone… and then try and find the time to fit them in to our busy schedule to come and give us a consultation and then set up an appointment with them to come and actually do the work… and what is the cost of all that?

Maybe I don’t need an organizer as much as I just need a bigger home.

I need a four bedroom house.

A house where the boys can each have a room to themselves and all their junk. A bigger home where things don’t look so cluttered.

Three days ago we put seven garbage bags of ‘stuff’ out on our front step to be hauled away for whatever charity it was. It was a great feeling to clean up and clean out and purge.

But we still have a pile of other ‘things’ around here and I sometimes feel like I belong on that show Hoarders.

Maybe that’s what I need. I’ll watch that show and then I won’t feel so bad.

I need to sit and relax. Sitting on my butt and watching a show sounds way better than having to dust and sweep….

What I need is motivation.

That’s what I need. Something to kick-start my cleaning.

I need to have some people over. That always puts me into high gear with the cleaning.

That is also when those papers get ‘filed’ away into drawers never to be seen again… and actually, my closets are already brimming with crap…

And the next day after having friends over, my house is an even bigger mess. The basement is littered with popcorn, chips and juice boxes and the upstairs floor is full of crumbs…

Don’t get me started on the empties…

Sigh.

I need to cut back my hours. Clearly.

I need to stop working so much and spend more time at home…

So I can clean.

Har har.

I can’t believe I even typed that… as if I ever meant it. And there it is, staring at me in black and white.

Staying home so I can clean.

I kill me. That was a good one.

Cleaning would be the last thing I’d do in a day! I would maybe spend an hour or two tops tidying and then what would I do? Go to a spa or go shopping or sit on my rump watching Hoarders…

So where does that leave me?

It leaves me with one option.

Know what I need?

I need to enlist child labour.

One of my favourite pastimes.

I have three able-bodies boys in my house. Who apparently ‘don’t have anything good to play with and nothing to do’….

Plus, they are so much closer to the ground and can pick up all the crud littering our floors way better than me.

And video game play is a huge commodity in the Pigeon Coop. Threats and bribes work – especially when screen-time is involved…

Phew. I feel better. I feel a bit relieved. Now I can differentiate between need and want.

What I want is to twitch my nose a certain way and have my house appear before me, clean, sparkling and organized.

What I need is to just clear a path in the mess for now. And then I’m gonna go veg on the couch…. Until our next guests come over.


Leave a comment

This Is Me At 40 – Part Deux

Further to my post from the other day about this whole being 40 thing.

I was talking in my last post about how I had this notion once I got to a certain age that I would be a certain way.

And I really did not turn out that way. I’m way too loud and high strung to be a quiet, serene woman…

So another part to this whole being 40 thing, besides officially being Over the Hill (thanks Mother-In-Law for those kicky napkins at my birthday party reminding me of just how old I really am)… is how with age comes a certain freedom.

Freedom from what you used to care about.

I used to hear about how women got to a certain age and could say what they want because they just didn’t care anymore.

They could hang out with who they want because they didn’t have enough precious free time to spend it with people who weren’t true friends.

My mom told me when she got to a certain again, she didn’t’ care what people thought or said. She would live her own life, say what she liked and to hell with anyone who didn’t like it or agree.

What freedom!

So when does that start?

I’m in line. Sign me up.

I’m a people pleaser and I’m sick up-to-here of it.

I want to be one of those Grande dames who don’t give a flying fig over whether you think I could lose ten (or fifty) pounds. I’ll wear my hair long dammit and cover the gray for as long as I can.

Wear a mu-mu to dinner, you say? Lovely idea. Don’t mind if I do and screw you if you can’t appreciate my fashion sense.

Yelling at the kids? Letting them watch TV and play with toy guns? Puuullllease.

You trying to swindle me, you little fart? I’ll tell you off to your face and call the manager over to get him in on the action too!

I demand satisfaction! I demand service! I demand respect!

So does it start at 40?

I think I’m still waiting.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

We were at our campground and the whole area was putting on an early-Halloween night for all the ankle-biters. They could dress up, go trick-or-treating from site to site and at the end of the night, there would be prizes for best costumes and best site decorations.

My middle son was soooo gung ho over this. He worked all Friday afternoon on his costume. All by himself. He painted it, he even gave up time to run around and bike with the other kids so he could work on his masterpiece. I was so proud of him! He did a super job all by himself.

The next day he wolfed down dinner and went running off to meet up with his two brothers and some friends to go trick or treating. On his way, in his costume (which he really couldn’t run in – he mostly just walked very awkwardly because it was all cardboard boxes) a little boy passed by him and I could hear this little snot yell to my boy, ‘you look stupid!’

My son just walked past him, ignoring him. He was on his way to get candy! Nothing was stopping him! I wonder in fact, if he even heard this brat?

Momma Bird did.

And then the little bugger saw me looking at him and from the road by my campsite yelled to me, ‘he looked stupid!’

And that’s when my 40-year-old-hey-you’re-finally-a-grown-up voice came into existence. Something snapped inside me.

And I said to the little kid, ‘actually, that’s my son. So you called him stupid? Guess what kid? You just lost out on candy at my site. Whose stupid now?’

No response. He just walked away. I like to think it was because he was shocked into silence, but maybe he just didn’t give a crap.

So I was sitting at our site for a bit, figuring I would go walk around the area with my friend and then my boy comes back to our site in tears. Everyone had taken off on him and he was left all alone.

My heart ached for this poor boy who was so excited one minute and a broken spirit the next.

Kids are so thoughtless and mean. And I was pretty darn mad that two of those kids were my own children – his brothers! Grrr!

So I took the boy out and we made the rounds of the campsite and everywhere we went, kids slowed down to look at his costume and proclaim, ‘wow, cool costume!’ ‘Best costume ever!’

My son was getting his mojo back… and the fact that he was filling his bag with candy didn’t hurt either. And this started to soothe the raging Momma Beast seething inside me. Carrying a solo cup of red wine during our rounds didn’t hurt either…

After all the candy harvesting, we made our way to the costume contest. There were a bunch of great costumes – you could tell that these were worked on primarily by parents and older siblings. There is no way that while the Rubik’s cube costume was really cool, that the five year old inside of it created that all by herself. I hoped the judges would notice. What would be better revenge for all the rude and ignorant kids out there – my own two included – than to have my middle boy win a prize?

He won first place in his age division! A medal which he proudly displays to this day!

One of the other gals over there started lamenting that the Rubik’s cube didn’t win.

‘Four weeks… four weeks of work and he wins?’

And I lost it again. Pigeon Momma was livid at this point.

I started talking about how at least you could tell that my son’s was homemade and that’s when my friend suggested we go back to our campsite.

Wine might have helped my tongue that night, but now since I heard that little ‘snap, crackle & pop’ inside my head that night, I’m less inclined to put up with crap from other people where my children are concerned.

I still realize they aren’t angels, but I won’t let them be treated poorly anymore without at least sticking up for them.

This is leaps and bounds for the chick who used to quiver over any sort of conflict… actually, I still really do in any other part of my life. Except when it comes to hubby… but after being together for 18 years, we’re on pretty even playing ground when it comes to dealing with stuff. He doesn’t put up my crap, and I don’t put up with his… actually, we’re pretty easy going people and what I consider to be a really good match… ish…

Now if we could just find some time in this crazy life for a date night and get to know each other again…

I digress… Freedom…

So is that a bit of the freedom? I think it might be.

Could it be in the fact that I weigh more than I have in my life, other than when I was pregnant, and I usually don’t have an issue with wearing a bathing suit without being totally covered up?

Let’s be honest here, bathing suits aren’t going back to the long sleeves & bloomers fad anytime soon. So I think I’ve decided to suck it up and just don the bathing suit and be done with it.

Back in my twenties, I didn’t have the best bod, but holy hell, it was a thousand times better than what I’m sporting now – and I would cover it up!

If I had advice to give my younger self, it would definitely be to cherish what I had then in terms of my body. Why in the world did I cover up my bathing suits with t-shirts and shorts? How sad.

So maybe my little piece of freedom for now is being able to embrace all my hills and valleys without caring too much about what people think.

Let’s be honest – they aren’t looking at me anyway unless it is to harpoon me and drag me off the beach to put me out of my misery!

Seriously though – what will this body be like in another 20? Might as well enjoy it while I still can.

Talk about freedom though – in twenty years I might be a drooling forgetful mess. More than I am already.

So maybe I’ll forget to care by then and be hitting the nude beaches for all I know…


2 Comments

This Is Me At 40

Wow. I seem to write a lot about age. And aging.

Yep… ah well… here’s another one:

Yeah, baby. Forty.

Frigging fantastic!

Actually, not much different than 37, 38, or 39…

Definitely different than 23, that’s for sure.

Even 28, thirty… and 35…. Sigh.

Officially Over the Hill.

If you believe all those dollar store banners and cocktail napkins.

This whole middle-age thing is a factor that didn’t really occur to me as forty started to approach. Yes, it is a milestone and it is a big birthday. But I was too interested in the party aspect of it all.

Finally, a big birthday celebration in my honour!

Let’s rewind back to age thirty to give you some background as to why I was so excited about forty.

Thirtieth birthday. Big milestone right there. Up until then I had experienced the tenth birthday (double digits for the rest of my life – pretty big deal). Then sweet sixteen. Followed by eighteen where half my friends weren’t old enough to get into the bar but we still managed to get in a pretty darn good birthday. And then twenty-one – legal everywhere. Don’t really remember much about that birthday. Twenty-five was a good one too if I can recall that far back…

And thirty.

I was about 8 months pregnant with my first child and stone-cold sober.

And while it was an incredibly exciting time in my life, it was not quite what I had in mind for a major-milestone birthday.

And yes, I know you don’t have to drink to have fun… well, maybe YOU don’t…

It was a May birthday – so it was pretty hot. And I was as big as a whale, so no matter what the temperature was, I was overheating.

And watching others getting more and more drunk while they celebrated my big day…

Did I mention I was sober the whole time?

And hubby will be upset that I’m bringing this up (again, for the 100th time)… but the party was at our place.

I actually had to help organize and clean.

My house.

On my birthday. My thirtieth birthday.

While pregnant.

I ended up stomping off in all my glowing, graceful pregnantness (which actually was non-existent with the swollen ankles and huge ass) and stalked over to the local spa and got a pedicure instead.

Then we had the party and I was still sober.

Sigh.

So this year, for my fortieth, it was done up right. Oh sweet lord, hubby redeemed himself and more.

Yes, we still had a party at our place, and yes I did help clean a bit. But hubby took over and I was instead put in charge of picking up booze and food.

Having to go out shopping and not clean for my own party? Sign me up!

And we had a great time. We even moved furniture around to create a dance-floor.

My kind of house party.

Oh! And no children.

My kind of house party!

I love my boys dearly. But there is a time and a place; and by the time I was on my fourth glass of wine, it was neither the time nor the place for my boys…

What a night. Thank you hubby.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the teensy weensy fact that earlier in my birthday-month-extravaganza hubby actually whisked me away on a surprise trip to Vegas?

I didn’t write about that? Really?

How could I possibly forget to print out the most fun-filled, exhilarating yet relaxing, extravagant and amazing birthday weekend ever?

Hmmm… My apologies.

Wanna hear about it now?

Kay!

He had been planning this trip for about 4-5 months and just about everyone I know in this world knew about it!

And it isn’t like I was oblivious. I was on the lookout, waiting and wondering if he could possibly do any better than my thirtieth birthday… I was searching for signs, watching him a bit closely, looking for information…

And nothing. I was completely blind-sided!

We had three couples join us on this once-in-a-lifetime birthday trip. It was incredible!

Limo rides, a gorgeous hotel room, a booked cabana with our own personal incredibly-built-and-very-young-pool-boy-server, an amazing Cirque show (you GOTTA see Ka), a fabulous night of partying in a nearby Irish pub, seeing Jersey Boys – one of my favourite all time musicals for sure (you really really GOTTA see Jersey Boys), and partying with such fantastic friends and the best hubby in the world…

Yep. A trip to Vegas. It was kick ass! Absolute best birthday EVER!

And now that the glitz and glamour and trips and well-wishes have faded into my now middle-aged memory, I realize that there is a bit of tarnish to this whole being forty thing.

Yeah yeah, there was a lot of stuff leading up to being forty. Aches, pains, unwanted hair in places that will never be mentioned here and a plethora of other ailments and annoyances that seems to come with getting older.

Like not sleeping. And not being able to remember much of anything from one day to the next.

Which is scary when I go to work. It seems every time I step into the office, I feel bombarded by people asking me about things that happened just last week but for all intents and purposes, my Swiss-cheese brain remembers it only as something that may have vaguely occurred… are they talking about a report done up in 2004 or a note passed to me in grade nine? Wait… I wrote that email? At work? Was I coherent? Did I happen to answer my own question in that message or by any chance include my grocery list in there somewhere?

And did I drive to work today or take the train? One of my biggest fears is rushing home on the train to pick up the kids only to realize at the last stop that my car is downtown in the parking lot by my office building…

Maybe I need to play Sudoku. Doesn’t that help retain memory loss? Yawn… if anything will help my sleep issues…

Maybe I need to play the Memory game. Sounds like more fun than a math game. Just saying.

Maybe my memory problems have to do with lack of sleep. I don’t even want to go into that.

I’ve just come to accept that I’m a cruddy sleeper and so are pretty much all the other women I know around my age and older.

Doesn’t help me to repeat that mantra at 3:30 in the morning, but what are you gonna do?

Besides pop Melatonin. Which doesn’t help anyway…

And actually, I find I do a lot of my best thinking at night. I keep pen and paper by my bed to jot things down… doesn’t help me fall asleep, but the next day when I read my list, I’m giving myself a mental pat-on-the-back for being so brilliant…

And you know, actually, being forty… I had a picture of what it would be like.

I liked to think I would be blissful and calm and relaxed and in control…

And what the hell is with my acne? Are you kidding me?

If anything makes me feel less relaxed and frigging blissful, it would be the massive break out I’m currently experiencing on my forty year old face! And my back. What the hell?

Doesn’t help that as I sit here and type, my muffin top has turned into a baker’s dozen… holy hell, my jeans are shrinking… I always heard that the metabolism goes when  you turn forty… crap. They were right.

Things like that make me wonder who in the world coined the term ‘growing old gracefully’… is there such a thing? Do you actually achieve that at any point or does it only happen when you stop bitching and griping in public (and in blogs)…

Guess it won’t be happening for me anytime soon because I’m just getting started.

I haven’t even mentioned anything about how I sometimes find music too loud in pubs now. What is up with that? Since when have I ever complained about loud music? And the movies. The sound is way too loud in there too. We are all going to damage something. Do the hearing-aid companies have stock in THX or something?

And I’m starting to wear sensible shoes.

Not that I’ve ever been a stiletto babe (more like Birkenstocks, thank you very much), but now I can’t get away with those cute little flip floppy sandals at Wal-Mart and Payless. Now I need something sturdier. With more support.

Sexy.

Not to say my Birkenstocks are the least bit sexy, but I feel like I’m reliving my university days while still wearing something orthotically correct… I truly believe in my own little illusion that I’m somewhat cool. If that ain’t a middle-age cornerstone, what is?

And I should remind myself that just because I can still hairspray my bangs within an inch of their life and wear blue eyeliner like I did in the ’80’s doesn’t necessarily mean I should walk down that particular memory lane… so should I ditch the comfy Birks?

That’s another thing. Am I even relevant anymore? Was I ever?

Like for instance, when it comes to fashion… ha ha ha – I think we all know the answer to that if you’ve seen me… I’m not even going to continue down that precariously long and windy road…

Or what about current events or even current music?

When I was in my early ’20’s I was out in the world, learning about art, going to galleries and museums and soaking up culture and checking out bands and heading to concerts and traveling…

And now all I want is a good glass of wine (it doesn’t even have to be that good – just basically red… ish) and a good book (and no, I definitely don’t mean 50 shades of Gray;, but I am however really interested to see the movie)… and I really really crave a good night’s sleep…

Cool? Cutting Edge?

I think not.

Listening to the only alternative-rock station in Calgary doesn’t necessarily make me edgy. I mean really, does that even sound like a sentence a non-middle-aged person would write?

If I ever had that edgy, cool side to me, it is absolutely lost to me now…

Not like I don’t feel young some days. Some days I have energy and I’m confident and even my disgusting BMI count doesn’t bother me…

And some days… not so much.

I haven’t even started on what is to come.

Hot flashes. Sweet lord. I am a-feared of the hot flashes.

That whole menopausal adventure seems to loom before me like some great desert-scape of hormonal hell… I dread it.

I’m probably already pre-menopausal and don’t know it.

Do you think?

Maybe…

I could be…

Whatever. I’m going to bed.


1 Comment

Is Enough Ever Enough?

I had lunch with a friend the other day and it really stuck with me. I can’t stop thinking of her. It was such a sad time for me to see this wonderful person just break down and become so upset over trying to find balance in her life. And I can relate.

Or I think I can.

I’m a consultant part time at a job. I make my own hours and try to keep it to a three-day week, but things have been so busy lately, I’ve been doing four… and some weekends. The money is great, but I find when I’m at work, I feel like I should be home.

Not when the kids are at school (even though apparently they think I should be sitting around the house pining away for them and waiting for them to come home every day), but when I know they are home and I am at work trying to finish a project… or on the weekend when I’m so swamped and just need to go in for a few hours to clean things up. Or early in the morning when I’m not there to ship them off to school with a hug and a hearty breakfast in their little tummies.

Other than those times, I’m enjoying being downtown and working for a wage that allows us to pay down some of the debt we accrued during my years staying home with my boys. And the fact that I can leave anytime I want (within reason) and not feel obligated to be there, like a full time employee, is such an amazing freedom. I really am lucky.

But back to my friend. Who is a full time employee and trying very hard to juggle kids and home and all the stuff that goes with it – cleaning, shopping, school work, activities… not to mention fitting in an 8 hour day at the office. And don’t forget a 45 minute commute each way…

We started talking and she just broke down.

Sometimes it all just comes crashing down on you, doesn’t it? And it all seems so overwhelming. I could almost see the waves pulling at her, all around her, and my friend trying to stay afloat through all the obligations and responsibilities of being a full time mom and a full time employee.

And not being understood by some people in her company. Again I go back to how lucky I am to determine my own hours and actually have a company be flexible enough to accept my hours that I can give. Not everyone has it so lucky and I acknowledge that and no matter how busy I get, I always remember this and know that the pressure is not there for me to put in a certain number of hours if I have family commitments, etc.

As long as the work gets done, I’m good…

Of course the work is never ending, but I think that’s usually the way it rolls in a job. If you’re ever completely done everything, I’m pretty sure you might be unemployed soon…

September is hard too. As much as we pine for school to start again so the juggling of kids throughout the summer can finally end, the proverbial can of worms opens up with the inevitable onslaught of activities and homework and play dates and frigging groceries (what? We’re completely out of food? Again? What’s that you say? Only mustard and orange juice left in our house?)…

And as busy as it is, I am trying to slow down once in a while and enjoy my boys. And also be thankful that none of them are in hockey.

Then we would never ever see each other.

At least now, play dates are happening constantly with my boys, we have freedom to go for walks after supper (which we should really do more often, and once in a blue moon we manage to do it – but the option is there at least, right?)… we have our weekends to head out to our trailer and see friends and work on our house (again, something that really should be tackled way more than it is, but hopefully with cold weather coming soon – and my income working for us – renovations started a year ago will actually come to fruition sometime… soon… ish…)…

So my friend.

Who is swamped and stressed.

And misunderstood by people in her company too. Not only is oil and gas still very much an old boy’s club, but I think it becomes that much more difficult to be in a company when you’re the only one with a young family.

You can’t pull twelve hours like some single employees. It just isn’t happening. And I wouldn’t want that to happen. Neither does my friend. So where does that leave her? In a metaphorical Siberia.

And some of these executives (who aren’t that much older than me nowadays) don’t always seem to appreciate the fact that while they can go home and have their dinners made and laundry cleaned; this friend of mine is going home and still having to do all that.

When I mentioned this to hubby last night, he asked, ‘well, doesn’t her husband help out?’

He raises a really good point. It is all about partnership when both adults in the house are working.

And we’ve had a few blow-outs ourselves over who is doing what and what we thought the other person was doing.

Example? My favourite.

School lunches.

My jaw clenches a little even thinking about our battle of the school lunches which wasn’t even really about that, but don’t tell hubby that because he just doesn’t see it my way. I don’t see it his way either. So we’ve kinda let that one go and just moved on and sucked it up.

Sign of a good marriage? Letting things roll off your back.

And having a fully stocked bar.

So I’m sure my friend’s hubby is helping. But really, more often than not, who is the one worrying on the way home from work about what to make for dinner when all you have is mustard and some orange juice in the house?

As much as both of us would be thinking ‘take out’, I can usually pull something together that is edible (not always according to all three boys, but the whining doesn’t bother me so much anymore).

Yet another valid argument for wine…

But in my house hubby can cook and will cook. And when he doesn’t, he cleans. Actually, I’d much rather cook than clean and he knows this and is fine with it and really pitches in and does so much in the house.

And the kids help too… sometimes. There is usually more whining involved, but I’m almost immune to it now after so many years of listening to it.

Would you look at that? Wine apparently helps a happy marriage AND raising responsible, well-adjusted kids… I bet it helps with other things… gargle with it and it kills germs? Use it in the garden?

Maybe I’ll just stick to drinking it. After two glasses, my garden starts to look pretty anyway and suddenly I don’t seem to care so much anymore about having germs.

I digress.

My friend.

Who is wondering whether to stay at her job. And struggling with the age-old issue of being torn in different directions all at the same time.

She has responsibilities at home that she is giving up for work. She needs the money and needs to work, so things at home need to be put on hold.

But when a company professes to be family-oriented, where does it begin and end?

Don’t you hear that so much nowadays? All these companies are so in touch with everyone and feel absolute empathy to parents that they’re just so darn flexible because family comes first…

At what point is it okay to say that you need to leave early to catch little Billy’s assembly at school and when does it become too much? Can you volunteer for fun lunch day or just limit it to a graduation ceremony? Go with your child’s class to the science centre or can you only leave work because of a broken arm?

Forty hours a week dwindles pretty quickly when you leave for very important family commitments. Like dentist appointments. So when you are invited to the Mother’s Day Tea… do you go?

What will the backlash be?

I dunno. I don’t have any answers.

As usual.

I felt like a schmuck sitting there at the table too because I wasn’t sure if I should give her a hug or if I should make a joke…

So I told her I know how she feels.

And I do.

There have been tears of frustration and exhaustion in the Pigeon Coop as well.

As much as I find work to be an escape from home where I can use another part of my brain after ten years of being a stay-at-home-mom, it is really tough to manage absolutely everything.

Like getting the orders in on time for those frigging Entertainment Books that every single school seems to be selling right about now…

Remembering to look at my kids’ classroom blogs every single night.

Remembering to take something out of the freezer for dinner the next day so I’m not stuck making orange juice smoothies with mustard on crackers for supper…

So as wonderful as things are right now with my boys being such awesome ages and being able to work with people I enjoy seeing every day and where I call the shots on my hours worked so I have time to volunteer at school and be home when my kids get home… phew… it really is still a daily juggling act, isn’t it?

I guess we just suck it up?

Some days it is easier said than done.

Just know all you Mommas out there – you’re not alone. Does that help at all? It helps me to know that I’m not the only one feeling stressed… hope it helps you too.

Take care of yourselves. You’re doing an awesome job.

And when life beats you down and things get too busy and everything is just too much…

I dunno… can’t help you there. If I ever figure it out, I’ll pass it along.