Musings about life in the Pigeon household

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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.


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…


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.


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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.